This presentation provides a history, in chronological order, of: The 23” Fecker-Clark Refractor Telescope The Charles E. Daniel Observatory The computerization of the observatory and telescope. Various people and events will be discussed along the way. Some technical information will also be presented.
Who here helped with the acquisition, transport or assembly of the telescope? Who here helped with the construction of the observatory? Hopefully all of us here will share what we know. As result all us will learn about something about the history.
“The New Princeton Telescope” Scientific American; Vol. XLVII No. 14 September 30, 1882 “Large Telescopes in the United States” The Baltimore Sun Almanac January 1886 “Johnson’s Universal Cyclopedia”, Vol. VIII A.J. Johnson Co November 1, 1895
“Joline Dormitory” Princeton Alumni Weekly; Vol. XXXII No. 18 February 12, 1932 “The New Observatory at Princeton University” Frank Schlesinger Science; Vol. 80 No. 2083 November 30, 1934
“Rebirth of a Glass Giant” Doug Gegen Sky & Telscope May 1988 “A Professional Method for Cleaning Optics” Robert B. Ariail Journal of the ATS 1995, Issue #8
“The Stargazers” W. Barksdale Maynard Princeton Alumni Weekly; Vol. 111 No. 1 September 22, 2010 “Princeton and the telescope” Frank Wojciechowski Princeton Alumni Weekly; Vol. 111 No. 1 September 22, 2010 “Looking through a telescope” James D. Sheppard Princeton Alumni Weekly; Vol. 111 No. 4 November 17, 2010
Halstead Observatory Princeton University (1869 – 1932)
Director:Prof. Charles A. Young Dome diameter:39’ Dome composition:Iron A 4 horsepower gas engine was used to: Drive dome and open shutter “Actuate” a small “Edison dynamo machine” which provided power for lights and spectroscopic instruments
March 8, 1804 – August 19, 1887 Born in Ashfield, Massachuetts Portrait painter and engraver Started experimenting with grinding lenses around 1846 Earned his reputation by 1853 when he sold an 8” diameter objective to Rev. W. R. Dawes of the Royal Astronomical Society Also did the grinding of the 36” telescope of the Lick Observatory.
Objective Lens: Type:Achromatic doublet Double convex lens made of crown glass Radius of curvature: Outside surface:265.8” Inside surface:81.9” Double concave lens made of flint glass Radius of curvature: Surface next to crown glass:78.4” Surface facing eye:222.2” Distance between lenses:7.5”
The lenses are ground to a degree of curvature so that the flint glass neutralizes the dispersive power of the crown glass.
Fourth largest refractor in use in the world!
One event:The transit of Venus Date:December 6, 1882 The telescope was at full aperture at the two external contacts. The telescope was stopped down to 5.75” at the two internal contacts. Photographs were taken by means of a “photoheliograph”. Micrometer measurements were made of the planet’s diameter. Note: The transit of Venus between the Sun and Earth would not happen again until 2004!
External contacts:I, IV Internal contacts:II, III
In 1932 work began on demolishing the Halstead Observatory A new observatory would be built in order to make room for the Joline Dormitory. They used the stone from the old observatory to make the new observatory. The new location was better because it was further away from the growing number of lights on the streets and campus. The move started in 1932 and was completed in 1934.
The New Observatory (a.k.a. FitzRandolph Observatory) Princeton University (1934 - 2013)
New Mount and Dome: Designed and installed by J. W. Fecker Used synchro motors to move the telescope Rising floor Used the original: Objective lenses Focuser Eyepieces Cost:Unknown
Not much information available. One of the first to master the construction of the Schmidt camera. Published “Designing Large Telescopes” in September 1929 issue of Scientific American. Died 1945.
J. W. Fecker Company built at least seven models of telescopes from the mid-1920s until the early 1960s. J. W. Fecker Company was also popular for manufacturing rifle scopes.
Featured in Orsen Welles’ “War of the Worlds” radio show on October 30, 1938.
ANNOUNCER TWO: We are now ready to take you to the Princeton Observatory at Princeton where Carl Phillips, or commentator, will interview Professor Richard Pierson, famous astronomer. We take you now to Princeton, New Jersey. (ECHO CHAMBER) PHILLIPS: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is Carl Phillips, speaking to you from the observatory at Princeton. I am standing in a large semi-circular room, pitch black except for an oblong split in the ceiling. Through this opening I can see a sprinkling of stars that cast a kind of frosty glow over the intricate mechanism of the huge telescope. The ticking sound you hear is the vibration of the clockwork. Professor Pierson stands directly above me on a small platform, peering through a giant lens. I ask you to be patient, ladies and gentlemen, during any delay that may arise during our interview. Besides his ceaseless watch of the heavens, Professor Pierson may be interrupted by telephone or other communications. During this period he is in constant touch with the astronomical centers of the world... Professor, may I begin our questions? PIERSON: At any time, Mr. Phillips. PHILLIPS: Professor, would you please tell our radio audience exactly what you see as you observe the planet Mars through your telescope? PIERSON: Nothing unusual at the moment, Mr. Phillips. A red disk swimming in a blue sea. Transverse stripes across the disk. Quite distinct now because Mars happens to be the point nearest the earth... in opposition, as we call it. PHILLIPS: In your opinion, what do these transverse stripes signify, Professor Pierson? PIERSON: Not canals, I can assure you, Mr. Phillips, although that's the popular conjecture of those who imagine Mars to be inhabited. From a scientific viewpoint the stripes are merely the result of atmospheric conditions peculiar to the planet. PHILLIPS: Then you're quite convinced as a scientist that living intelligence as we know it does not exist on Mars? PIERSON: I'd say the chances against it are a thousand to one. PHILLIPS: And yet how do you account for those gas eruptions occurring on the surface of the planet at regular intervals? PIERSON: Mr. Phillips, I cannot account for it. PHILLIPS: By the way, Professor, for the benefit of our listeners, how far is Mars from earth? PIERSON: Approximately forty million miles. PHILLIPS: Well, that seems a safe enough distance. (OFF MIKE) Thank you.
In 1964, the U.S. Naval Observatory purchased the telescope for $45,000. The original plan was to use the telescope to study binary stars. The telescope was moved to Washington. Shortly thereafter, all but the objective lens cell was moved to Arizona. Due to budget cuts the telescope stayed in storage.
In August 1978 the Greenville County School District purchased the telescope for $1. It cost $10,000 to move it from storage to Greenville. The 5” Clark finder and the setting circles could not be found. The telescope was moved to the school district’s warehouse on Artillery Road.
Fundraising began by the “Friends of the Observatory and Planetarium”. In September 1983 the Roper Mountain Science Center Association was formed. In August 1984 the Charles E. Daniel Foundation donated a $500,000 grant to the cause.
The telescope was moved from the school district’s warehouse to Textile Hall (now known as the TD Convention Center) on Exposition Drive in Greenville, SC. This is where the restoration of the telescope was done.
Doug’s article in the Sky & Telescope provides details on the restoration. In spring of 1985 Dick Nelson of Simi Valley, California began supervising the restoration of the telescope.
Founder of Optical Craftsmen Company in Chatsworth, California. This is not a lot of information about Dick on the internet. Apparently he passed away around 1997.
Bob Ariail of Columbia, SC restored the objective lens cell to its original brass finish. Bob also donated the 6” Mogey to RMSC. Be sure to visit: Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy Over 5,000 books, atlases and other items at USC’s Hollings Library 200 antique and modern telescopes and other instruments at South Carolina State Museum.
First light: May 14, 1987 First object:Arcturus Second object:Saturn
The Daniel Observatory Telescope System (DOTS) V1.0 was created by Lee Ott The first computerization of the telescope consisted of: IBM PC XT 4.77 Mhz 8088 CPU 8087 floating-point processor 5.25” floppy diskette 10 Mbyte Hard disk drive PC-DOS
Born in Columbia, SC BSEE from University of South Carolina Moved to Greenville in 1986 Employer:Michelin Since June 1987 Central Engineering for North America Volunteer for RMSC since 1987 Computerized the telescope Became part-time staff member of RMSC in December 2013.
Languages: GWBasic Microsoft Assembler Other hardware: Two Compumotor PC-21 indexers Two Compumotor stepper motors Two BEI incremental encoders Two Termiflex HT-12 handheld paddles Two Vorne GY2200 displays One Opto-22 16-channel I/O module
The Smithsonian Insititute had restored the Fecker Clock Drive. In xxx, 198x the loaned it to RMSC. In February 1988 the Smithsonian donated the Fecker Clock Drive to RMSC after a visit to the observatory by xxxxx. She decided that it belonged with it’s telescope.
In June 1988 DOTS V2.1 was created to support a 10 MHz 80386 processor. Ooh! Aah!
On Thursday nights, John Cessarich with WYFF 4 would broadcast the weather report from the Observatory.
DOTS v3.0 was created in March 2012. New features: Both axes can move easily at same time Remembers telescope’s coordinates Interfaces with Software Bisque’s TheSky TheSky is used to display the current position of the telescope onto a star chart Client – Server Design Other computers can control movement
Upgrades: PC/AT Clone with 350MHz processor Windows XP operating system Compumotor AT6400 controller Replaces the PC-21 indexers Language:C#
DOTS v188.8.131.52 was created in April 2013. Upgrades: Dell T3500 computer system Windows 7 operating system Parker ACR9000 motion controller Replaces the AT6400 controller
Replace Termiflex hand-held paddles with new paddles (wireless preferred). The existing paddles are no longer manufactured. We only have one spare.
Mathematician To help further automate the telescope. Experienced in Path Analysis and Collision Avoidance. Needed to improve movement and safety of movement of the telescope.
Routine Maintenance Plan and Documentation During December 2013 through February 2014 the windscreen, shutter and dome experienced difficulty moving. In February 2014 the chain broke on the windscreen and had to be replaced.
Camera Take pictures for RMSC website Capture video to show on cloudy nights Feed video to planetarium? Research? “Go To” capability?