German Telescope is UNIQUE in Design (Aug, 1930)

Sure, it’s a “telescope”.

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German Telescope is UNIQUE in Design

ANEW departure in the way of design and operation of high power telescopes has been effected at the Treptow astronomical observatory, near Berlin, which is one of the best in Germany. Of a design that is distinctly unique—it might be called modernistic—the new mammoth telescope, shown in the photo at the left, has many features that add immensely to the facility of star-gazing.

One of the chief features of the new telescope is the barrel. It is built in sections, and resembles at a distance a war time “big bertha.” Because of this the inhabitants of the surrounding territory have given it the name of the “Peace Gun.” The barrel is 70 feet long, with a weight of 22 tons; the lenses have a diameter of 28 inches and are a foot thick. Three months were required in the grinding and polishing of the lens which magnify the stars to a size where all the details of the surface of distant planets are plainly visible.

The mechanism for focussing the telescope on the distant stars merits special attention. The entire instrument with its subsidiary equipment hinges on a huge axle 8 feet long which supports both the barrel and two eleven-ton counterweights. This axle is geared to a powerful motor which gives elevation to the barrel, while rotation is achieved by rotation of the platform. The mechanism is so arranged that once a star is brought into focus it can be followed in its course through the heavens without further adjustment. The astronomer is thus relieved of the necessity of changing his position as the position of the observed planet changes. He merely needs take a single position for observation and the mechanism keeps the star in focus. Steel girders form the major support of the entire construction, and the barrel of the telescope is braced rigidly with heavy cables. The total weight amounts to more than 130 tons. The instrument is protected by a gigantic canvas cover during storms.

7 comments
  1. wormhole says: March 4, 20091:03 am

    A “”NEW”" departure! that telescope went up in 1896 and amazingly its still there in working order.
    http://www.sdtb.de/The-…
    Keep up the good work i learn something every time i visit here.

    wormhole

  2. Torgo says: March 4, 20091:08 am

    Thanks for the link, Wormhole. Very interesting.

    You saved me from making a joke about being able to shell Paris and study the damage at the same time.

  3. Jeff says: March 4, 20093:01 pm

    The “new” telescope was built in 1896?!

    It often strikes me how badly these old articles address the fundamental questions I was taught in 5th grade – who, what, where, when, why and how?

    Often their are no names, no location, no dates.
    For example: Battery-Operated Hearing Aid Is Easily Concealed.

  4. MrG says: March 4, 20095:53 pm

    The objective lens was 28 inches in diameter and … 12 INCHES THICK?! Ahhhhhhh … I suspect not.
    I bet someone mixed up 3 centimeters (bit over an inch) with 30 centimeters (a foot). Cheers — MrG / http://www.vectorsite.n…

  5. StanFlouride says: March 4, 20099:50 pm

    MrG-
    Unfortunately the link does not reveal the thickness of the lens but its diameter is 68 cm, about 28″. I sent them an email asking about the lens thickness and will post the results when the respond.

  6. Toronto says: March 4, 200911:35 pm

    Stan/MrG: wouldn’t a refractor of that vintage have achromatic elements that might cause it to be a stack of glass 30cm or so thick? (And a telescope of that huge magnification surely ought to be color corrected.)

    Thanks for the link, G. That’s a neat story.

  7. MrG says: March 5, 20098:43 am

    You might be right, Toronto, I forgot about that — you have a composite lens with multiple layers made of glasses with different indexes of refraction that cancel out color dispersion. But a lens almost half as thick as it is wide still seems a bit excessive. That’s a lot of very-high-quality glass. MrG / http://www.vectorsite.n…

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