Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Tour of Theodor Jacobsen Observatory, University of Washington - April 19th, 2017

(from the I Love Telescopes department)

Hi everyone,

We had an opportunity to take a tour of the Theodor Jacobsen Observatory, located on the campus of the University Of Washington.

(University photo)

From the University website:  Built in 1895, the Observatory with its 120-year old, 6-inch refracting telescope is still offering celestial views of the wonders of the Universe.

The telescope and dome have been restored.  Sadly - there's too much light pollution to really use this telescope too much anymore - but the Seattle Astronomical Society does have viewing nights there.  Click this link for more info: TJO Evening Public Talks

After attending a presentation by the University staff about the Sun, we followed the sign on the stairs to the top of the dome.  (No more than 12 at a time, though!):

And there it was! Fully restored!

This telescope was built before electricity was readily available.  There is a clock mechanism that moves the telescope to track celestial objects.  You crank it up on the side - note the weights down below to keep it moving:

There is also a secondary telescope in a special room called the Meridian Room.  Instead of a standard dome, this room had a slit in the roof precisely aligned with a meridian.  The telescope in this room was connected via wires to a type of chart recorder.  What you did was point it at a place along the meridian, and wait for a star to transit the telescope.  When it did, it set the clock in the room and that established precise time.  This was used for years to set time in Seattle for the trains, etc.  Sadly - this telescope isn't used anymore - they weren't even sure if the roof opened - but it's been restored so you can see how it used to work.

All in all - a great night.


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