Inside the Calver Dome

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This telescope built by George Calver in 1883, which was extensively modified in the mid 20th century to a Schmidt design, was returned to its original Newtonian configuration, fitted with a new drive, and rehoused in a new dome.

This account of the history of the telescope was written by WFA Ellison in 1920.

The 18in. Calver Equatorial

As an addendum to the foregoing report I propose to append for information of my successors a history of this fine telescope. It was built by George Calver in 1883 for the late Col. Tupman of Harrow. Col. Tupman, a man of great wealth and scientific tastes, was prominent in the years 1870 - 85, in eclipse expeditions and did much valuable work on the transits of Venus, 1874 and 1882, which may be found in volumes in this library. He spent £800 on the telescope, and much more in providing a dome for it. When the work was finished those enlightened and progressive patrons of science, the local British Bumbles raised his rates, in the pretext of the new building. Colonel T. was so disgusted that he dismounted the telescope and pulled down the dome. The instrument lay many years unused till W John Pierce of the Wexford Engineering Works bought it for £200. W Pierce had previously had an 8in Wray refractor, and had sold it as too large and cumbrous for him. He was now persuaded to acquire this much larger instrument by an engineer in his employment, who promised to oversee the erection of the telescope and dome. When the work was half done the engineer was tempted away by the offer of a lucrative post in Australia and left W Pierce with the instrument on his hands. W P sent for me and consulted me as to the possibility of completing the building and working it. I saw at once that the preparations were on far too heavy a scale, the proposed roof being of steel girders and weighing some tons. After several journeys, and proposing various solutions of the difficulty, Pierce entreated me to take the thing away as a gift. I replied that even to transport it to Fethard would cost more than I could afford. "Never mind that," he rejoined, "I will send the steam lorry and deliver it at your door". In this way I came into possession of the largest telescope in Ireland. The dome of timber and ruberoid which now covers it only cost me £30 and my labour to construct and is perfectly weather proof, which Grubb's dome never was. Before re-erecting the telescope here, I lightly re-figured the mirror, which was rather under-corrected, to its very great benefit.

Wm F. A. Ellison
Oct 25th 1920

See also:

Account by W.F.A. Ellison of the History of the Calver Telescope

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Last Revised: 2015 January 8th