Model of the Great Rosse Telescope, 1842-1845

1844-1845 in Birr
William Parsons

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Scale model (1:24) of the Great Rosse Telescope with a six foot speculum mirror, built by the Third Earl of Rosse in 1844-45 at Birr, Ireland.

This model of the Great Rosse Telescope was made prior to its construction in 1842-5, as it includes an observing platform that was never built. Constructed in Ireland by William Parsons, the Third Earl of Rosse, it was soon known as the 'Leviathan of Parsonstown'. The reflecting telescope used a 6-foot metal mirror weighing four tons. This was mounted in a 15m tube slung by chains between massive masonry walls. Rosse used his great instrument to try and determine the nature of nebulae, misty patches in the sky. He was the first to discover that some had spiral forms, now known to be remote and massive islands of stars like our own Milky Way Galaxy.

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Object Number:
brass (copper, zinc alloy), iron, lead (metal), plaster, textile and wood (unidentified)
overall (with display case): 2460 mm x 1930 mm x 1020 mm, 377 kg
telescope - reflecting
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  • science
  • natural sciences
  • physical sciences
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  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment
  • optical instrument
  • telescope
Lord Rosse (5th Earl)

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