Article ID: CBB488911807

A tale of two telescopes: North Queensland and the 1882 transit of Venus (2017)


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 obser-vatory 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.

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Authors & Contributors
Orchiston, Wayne
Orchiston, Wayne
Bònoli, Fabrizio
Bucciantini, Massimo
Camerota, Michele
Chauvin, Michael
Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage
Journal for the History of Astronomy
British Journal for the History of Science
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Science and Education
Cambridge University Press
Bishop Museum Press
Harvard University Press
Museum of Victoria
Astronomical observatories
Eclipses; transits; occultations; conjunctions
Instruments, astronomical
Cook, James
Galilei, Galileo
Wales, William
Solander, Daniel Charles
Joseph Thomas Ward (25 January 1862 – 4 January 1927)
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
17th century
20th century, early
New Zealand
Great Britain
Osservatorio astronomico universitario di Bologna

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