A tale of two telescopes: North Queensland and the 1882 transit of Venus

Orchiston, Wayne, and Darlington, Vicki (2017) A tale of two telescopes: North Queensland and the 1882 transit of Venus. Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 20 (2). pp. 223-253.

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Abstract

The 1882 transit of Venus offered the final opportunity for astronomers to use these rare events to pin down the distance from the Earth to the Sun. A British party based itself in southern Queensland, but total cloud cover prevented any observations being made on the critical day. In this paper we trace the preparations of the British party, and then show how they laid the foundations for the development of astronomy in Queensland by selling their two 6-in Cooke refractors before returning to Britain. Both instruments were purchased by a Townsville amateur astronomer, Edwin Norris, and although he installed one in an observatory, he made little use of it. However, he subsequently sold the other telescope to J. Ewen Davidson of Mackay, who also erected an observatory for it. Davidson then used his instrument for cometary astronomy, in the process discovering two new comets, one of which now bears his name. Unfortunately, recent attempts to track down the present whereabouts of the two telescopes have failed.

Item ID: 52618
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-2807
Keywords: 1882 transit of Venus, British transit team, Jimbour, Townsville, Edwin Norris, The Strand Observatory, Mackay, J. Ewen Davidson, Branscombe Observatory, Charles Sydney Norris
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2018 07:30
FoR Codes: 02 PHYSICAL SCIENCES > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020199 Astronomical and Space Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 50%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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