6 inch Reflector by Short

6-inch Reflector by Thomas Short, London. 1768/1769.

2/1371 - 24, 2 feet focal length. Includes 5 eyepieces, 1 slide filter, and angled mirrors. Used by His Majesty King George III to observe the 1769 transit of Venus. This telescope could be adapted to Newtonian, Cassegrain and Gregorian systems. M92.2 contains an old page of instructions for using the telescope, possibly by Short.

Rebekah Higgitt of the National Maritime Museum has compiled the following catalogue entry for the telescope:

"This telescope, with a 6-inch mirror and 2-foot focal length, was used by King George III at Kew Observatory to observe the 1769 transit of Venus. It consists of a brass tube supported on a brass pillar and tripod, with interchangeable eyepieces, surmounted by a smaller finder telescope. There is a focusing mechanism on the side of the tube and the angle of the telescope can be altered with the adjustable arm fixed to the pillar base and eye-end. The accessories include a solar filter. An unusual feature is that its optics are adaptable to Newtonian, Cassegrain and Gregorian systems.

The maker, Thomas Short, was brother of the much more famous and fashionable telescope-maker James Short. The telescope is marked with a serial number, 2/1371 24, which continues the series begun by James. This suggests that the order for the instrument was given to the elder Short but undertaken or completed by Thomas when he came down to London on his brother's death in mid-1768. Prior to this Thomas Short had been an optician and instrument maker based in Leith, near Edinburgh."

See also: Accessories for the telescope

Last Revised: 2011 August 24th