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COLLECTION Identifier: hsi-00002

Harvard College Observatory Blueprints from Oak Ridge Observatory

Overview

The Harvard College Observatory was founded in 1839 in Cambridge, MA. During the 20th century research expanded with observatories in New Mexico, Peru, and South Africa using telescopes ranging from 1” to 61” in diameter. This collection contains technical drawings collected at Oak Ridge Observatory relating to many of the observatory buildings and telescopes.

Dates

  • (1892-1988 Inclusive)

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Appointment necessary to consult collection. Please contact chsi@fas.harvard.edu for further information.

Extent

9 cubic feet (6 boxes and 20 oversized folders)
The Oak Ridge Observatory Blueprints documents the instrumentation used and studied by staff at the Harvard College Observatory (HCO). Comprised mostly of technical drawings of the observatory buildings, telescopes, and other astronomical instrumentation used at various HCO Observatories it also has some notes, sketches, and other related material. The collection includes some plans from other observatories. The collection spans from 1892 to 1988 with the bulk of the collection from the 1950s and 1960s. The collection is mostly reproductions including blueprints, diazotypes, and photostats though it also includes some originals on paper and linen.

The bulk of the collection relates to Oak Ridge Observatory, the site, buildings, and telescopes. In particular, the collection focuses on the 61” Wyeth Telescope located at Oak Ridge. This bias reflects that the collection was found in the 61” Wyeth building at Oak Ridge Observatory after its decommissioning. Other highlights of the collection include plans for the observatory to house the 24” Bruce Telescope in Cambridge and plans for the Baker-Nunn Satellite Tracking Cameras.

Harvard College Observatory

The Harvard College Observatory (HCO) was founded in 1839 in Cambridge, MA as a has been a pioneer in astronomical research since its founding in 1839. During the tenure of the Harvard College Observatory’s first three directors, William Cranch Bond (1839-1859), George Phillips Bond (1859-1865), and Joseph Winlock (1866-1875), much of the Observatory’s research focused on lunar photography and chronometric activities to establish American longitude and to operate a time service for the United States government and commercial interests. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, under the direction of Edward C. Pickering (1877-1919), research shifted from celestial mechanics and positional astronomy to astrophysics. The Observatory developed into a major research institution, focusing on photographic star surveys, spectroscopic analysis, and culminating in the publication of the Henry Draper Catalogue, with spectroscopic classifications for 225,300 stars. In pursuit of this work, HCO expanded beyond its Cambridge home to various locations around the world. In 1973 the Harvard College Observatory merged with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to form the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.
HCO Observatories Represented in Collection
Cambridge, MA
Moved to its current location on Observatory Hill in 1844. Houses the Great Refractor, plate stacks, and director’s residence. Still in operation as the base for the Center for Astrophysics
Boyden Station, Arequipa, Peru
Founded in 1891 with a gift from Uriah A. Boyden this was HCO’s second permanent observatory to complement the one in Cambridge. Instruments included the 24” Bruce, 13” Boyden, 10” Metcalf, and 8” Bache. The station was closed and moved to South Africa to get better weather for observation year-round.
Boyden Station, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Moved in 1927 from Arequipa, Peru to get better weather for observations year-round. Instruments included 60” Rockefeller, 35” ADH, and all the instruments from Arequipa. Harvard withdrew support from the Boyden Station in 1966.
Oak Ridge Observatory, Harvard, MA
Founded in 1933 Oak Ridge gave HCO a site nearby but outside the constraints of Cambridge. The site was known as the George R. Agassiz Station. Instruments included 61” Wyeth, 24” Jewitt, 24” Clark, 16” Boller & Chivens, 16” Metcalf Doublet, 12” Metcalf, and 8” Ross Lundin. The Observatory was closed in 2005.
High Altitude Observatory, Climax, CO
Founded in 1940 as an observation station with a focus on solar observation and incorporated with the University of Colorado in 1946. Harvard withdrew support of the observatory in 1953.
Sunspot Solar Observatory (Sacramento Peak Station), Sunspot, NM
Founded in 1947 to compliment the work of the High Altitude Observatory it was funded by the US Air Force and operated by HCO
HCO Telescopes Represented in Collection
61-Inch Wyeth, J. W. Fecker, Inc., Oak Ridge Observatory
This is a reflector telescope. It is also known as the 61” telescope. Used at Oak Ridge Observatory from approximately 1934-1989. Constructed by J. W. Fecker, Inc., the telescope had modifications by Joseph Nunn and Boller & Chivens, and the observatory building was designed by Coolidge, Shepley, Bulfinch, and Abbott. The plate series of the 61” Wyeth is SH. Related material in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments includes: 4 control paddles for guiding Fecker telescopes
60-Inch Rockefeller, J. W. Fecker, Inc., Boyden Station-Bloemfontein
This is a reflector telescope. It is also known as the Common Telescope or 60” Telescope. The 60” Rockefeller telescope was used at Boyden Station in Bloemfontein from approximately 1933-1995. The mirror for the 60” Rockefeller came from the Common Telescope which the HCO purchased in 1904 and used in Cambridge from roughly 1921 to 1927. The Common Telescope was overhauled by J. W. Fecker, Inc. in 1927 for use in Bloemfontein and included electrical control system created by Willard P. Gerrish. The observatory was designed by John R. Nichols and Lewis J. Johnson. The plate series for the Common Telescope is S and for the Rockefeller SB. Related material in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments includes: 9.5-inch telescope objective for finder to 60-inch reflecting telescope, 15.875-inch secondary mirror for 60-inch reflecting telescope
35-Inch Armagh-Dunsink-Harvard Telescope, Perkin-Elmer Company, Boyden Station-Bloemfontein
This is a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. It is also known as the 35” ADH or 32-36 Baker-Schmidt Armagh-Dunsink-Harvard telescope. The 35” ADH was used at Boyden Station in Bloemfontein from approximately 1949-1981. It was designed by Bart Bok, Eric Lindsay, and James Baker and built by the Perkin-Elmer Company and reused the base from the 24” Bruce Doublet. The observatory was designed by J. Van Der Veek and J. J. v. Voorst. The plate series for the ADH is ADH.
24-Inch Bruce Doublet, Alvan Clark & Sons, Cambridge, Boyden Station Arequipa, and Bloemfontein
This is a doublet type refractor telescope. It is also known as the 24” Refractor and 24” inch photograph refractor, Bruce Astrograph, and Alvan Clark Refractor. The telescope is named for Catherine Wolfe Bruce who gave the money to build the telescope. The 24” Bruce was used in Cambridge from approximately 1893-1895, at Boyden Station in Arequipa, Peru from ~1896-1927, and at Boyden Station in Bloemfontein from ~1929-1957. It was designed and made by Alvan Clark & Sons with a lens blank from Mantois. The observatory in Cambridge was designed by Willard P. Gerrish who also designed an electric control system for it, and the base for the telescope in Bloemfontein was designed by J. W. Fecker, Inc. who also modified the electronics at that time. The plate series for the 24” Bruce is A. Related material in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments includes: 24-inch Bruce doublet photographic telescope optics, plate holder tailpiece for 24-inch Bruce photographic telescope
24-Inch Clark, Alvan Clark & Sons, Cambridge, Oak Ridge Observatory
This is a reflector telescope. It is also known as the 24” Clark Reflector. It was used in Cambridge from approximately 1906-1932 and at Oak Ridge Observatory from ~1932-1970s. It was designed and made by Alvan Clark & Sons and had modifications made by W. W. Baustian. The plate series for the 24” Clark is H. Related material in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments includes: 14 x 17 inch plate holder for Bruce photographic telescope, 14 x 17 inch plate holder for Bruce photographic telescope
16-Inch Boller & Chivens, Boller & Chivens, Oak Ridge Observatory
This is a Cassegrain reflector telescope. The 16” Boller & Chivens was used at Oak Ridge Observatory from approximately 1968-1977 and was designed and made by Boller & Chivens. The plate series for the 16” Boller & Chivens is BC.
16-Inch Metcalf, J. H. Metcalf, Cambridge, Oak Ridge Observatory
This is a doublet type refractor telescope. The 16” Metcalf was used in Cambridge from approximately 1909-1932 and at Oak Ridge Observatory from ~1932-1992. The lens and telescope were designed and made by Reverend Joel Hastings Metcalf. This telescope was adjusted to take curved plates when moved to Oak Ridge. The plate series for the 16” Metcalf is MC.
13” Boyden/8” Boyden, Alvan Clark & Sons, Cambridge, Boyden Station Arequipa, and Bloemfontein
This is a refractor telescope. It is also known as the 13” Clark/8” Clark. The 13” Boyden traveled from Cambridge to Willows CA, to Wilson’s Peak CA from 1888-1890 before going to Boyden Station in Arequipa from approximately 1891-1926 and then to Boyden Station in Bloemfontein from ~1930-1951. The telescope was designed by Edward Pickering and Alvan Clark & Sons and made by Alvan Clark & Sons. It was mounted together with the 8” Boyden which was also made by Alvan Clark & Sons with money from the Boyden Gift. The plate series for the 13” Boyden is X. Related material in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments includes: 8-inch rear doublet for f/16.5 Boyden photographic telescope,
12-Inch Metcalf, J. H. Metcalf, Cambridge, Oak Ridge Observatory
This is a doublet type refractor telescope. The 12” Metcalf was used by Metcalf in Taunton MA approximately from 1905 to 1913 and in Cambridge ~1923-1938 and then at Oak Ridge Observatory ~1938-1983. This telescope was designed and made by Reverend Joel Hastings Metcalf. The plate series for the 12” Metcalf is MA.
10” Metcalf Triplet, J. H. Metcalf, Cambridge, Peru, Bloemfontein
This is a triplet type refractor telescope. It is also known as Metcalf Photographic Triplet Refractor. The 10” Metcalf was used in Cambridge from ~1915-1918, in various locations in Peru from ~1918-1926, and in Bloemfontein from ~1927-1955. This telescope was designed and made by Reverend Joel Hastings Metcalf. The plate series for the 10” Metcalf is MF. Related material in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments includes: 10-inch telescope objective with photographic correcting lens, 10 x 10-inch, 12° objective prism in cell, 14 x 17 inch plate holder for Bruce photographic telescope, 14 x 17 inch plate holder for Bruce photographic telescope
8” Bache, Alvan Clark & Sons, Cambridge, Peru, Bloemfontein
This is a doublet type refractor telescope. The telescope is also known as the “8 inch Bache Doublet, Voigtlander, reworked by Clark” The 8” Bache was used in Cambridge from ~1885-188, in various locations in Peru from ~1889-1923, and in Bloemfontein from ~1930-1954. This telescope used a Voigtländer portrait lens that was reworked by the Clarks who designed and built the telescope. The plate series for the 8” Bache is B. Related material in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments includes: 8-inch crown-glass element for telescope objective, plate holder for 8-inch photographic telescope, plate holder for 8-inch photographic telescope, 8-inch element for telescope objective
8” Ross Lundin, J. W. Fecker, Inc., Oak Ridge Observatory
This is a refractor telescope. It is also known as the 8” Ross-Lundin-Fecker or as the 8” Fecker Astrograph. The 8” Ross Lundin was used at Oak Ridge Observatory from ~1934-1976. The lenses were made by Ross and Lundin with the tube and mounting made by J. W. Fecker, Inc. The plate series for the 8” Ross Lundin is IR. Related material in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments includes: control paddle for guiding 8-inch Ross-Lundin-Fecker astrograph, 8-inch crown-glass element for telescope objective, 2016-1-0049 bronze name plate, 2014-1-0006 Fecker guide scope objective, 2014-1-0016 8-inch objective prism in cell
Patrol Cameras, Cambridge Oak Ridge Observatory
These are a group of four astronomical cameras with focal lengths from 6” to 24” for systematic sky patrols among other uses. They are also known as the Type 22 Patrol Cameras. They were used in Cambridge from ~1901-1932, at Oak Ridge Observatory from ~1932-1948, from Dona Ana NM from ~1948-1958, and at Organ Pass NM from ~1957-1958. The mountings used at Oak Ridge Observatory were designed by Willard P. Gerrish. The plate stack series for the Patrol Cameras is AI. Related material in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments includes: 2014-1-0008 1.5-inch Cooke anastigmatic lens 8x10 inches F/8 13 inches series V
Baker-Nunn Cameras, Joseph Nunn, Multiple
This is an astronomical camera designed for tracking satellites. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory maintained a network of 12 of these cameras around the world from 1958 until 1991. The Baker-Nunn Cameras were designed by Joseph Nunn and James G. Baker and made by Boller & Chivens and the Perkin-Elmer Company. Related material in the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments includes: Baker-Nunn camera model, space-flown Baker-Nunn test glass on commemorative plaque

Appraisal

Finding Aid is incomplete and a work in progress
Title
Harvard College Observatory Blueprints
Subtitle
From Oak Ridge Observatory
Status
in_progress
Author
Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments
Date
August, 2021
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English
EAD ID
hsi00002

Repository Details

Part of the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, Harvard University Repository

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