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Web Extra: Rebirth of a legendary telescope

At many observatories, the mantra seems to be: “Out with the old, and in with the new.” But at Wesleyan University’s Van Vleck Observatory, restorers are breathing new life into a century-old refractor.
RELATED TOPICS: TELESCOPES | REFRACTOR
VanVleckObservatory
Olivia Drake/Wesleyan University

In June 2014, Chris Ray and Fred Orthlieb began the arduous task of restoring the 20-inch refracting telescope at Wesleyan University’s Van Vleck Observatory in Middletown, Connecticut. The team retained the scope’s major components — including the classic 20-inch lens crafted by Alvan Clark & Sons, the optical tube assembly, and the pier — while updating the operating system to the 21st century. Now, in August 2015, the restoration is nearing completion and should be finalized in time for the observatory’s centennial in 2016.

Wesleyan University has recorded the process in a series of videos.

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