Saturday, 20 February 2021

The Largest Telescope in the World made in Manchester in 1881


The Largest Telescope in the world made in Manchester

Manchester Courier Wednesday 23rd February 1881

Messers, Galloway of Manchester, have just completed the manufacture of the largest telescope in the world. It has been made for Sir Henry Bessemer, (1813-1898) who had an observatory specially erected for its reception in Denmark Hill, a suburb on the south side of the Thames. The room in which it is to be placed with dome and windows so arranged as to revolve and keep pace automatically with every motion of the telescope. The upper end of the telescope will reach a height of about 45 feet.

Bolton Evening News Wednesday 23rd March 1881

Sir Henry Bessemer has, it is understood almost completed the construction at his home in Denmark Hill, of a telescope at which he has been working on for nearly 2 years. The instrument will be of such power that Sir Henry expects to be able by means of it to read a newspaper placed against the Crystal Palace, 3.5 miles distant.

The 40 inch Bessemer Telescope 

The telescope was a fully steerable 50 inch reflecting telescope with the mirror being made by George Calver. This mirror was not a success and was replaced by a 40 inch mirror. The telescope was mounted on a massive concrete foundation. There were two 6 inch Cooke refractors used as finders. The main telescope structure weighed around 12 tons. The dome had a clear internal diameter of 36 feet. The dome rotated on bearings powered by a turbine.

I have no idea what happen to this massive instrument, after the death of Sir Henry the instrument was offered to the British Astronomical Association however the running costs for such a large instrument were to high.

Sir Henry Bessemer was born near Hitchin in Hertfordshire and made his fortune in the iron and steel industry with large factories based in Sheffield.

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