Once in a while it's nice to be given the V.I.P. treatment. On Saturday night, August 30, we received such a treat. During our vacation visit to Cincinnati I wanted to show Sweetie the historic and beautiful Cincinnati Observatory Center. There were no public hours that day. Because I had visited there during an observatory conference in May, however, we were put in touch with the observatory's historian who invited me to stop in and witness installation of a newly-refurbished telescope in a long-unused and very unusual observatory space! That made for a most excellent afternoon even She enjoyed.
I must have looked sad eyed enough when I learned there would be no public observing on the hill that night… John, the historian, invited us to return after dark and enjoy a private viewing of Jupiter through the 11-inch Merz und Mahler refracting telescope. That telescope went into operation on April 14, 1845 in Cincinnati and has been in use since. Saturday had been a very hot and moderately humid day so it took some time for the atmosphere to settle and for the dome to cool. While we waited for things to settle down our host conducted us on a detailed historical tour of the two buildings that comprise the Observatory Center. What a fine place it is with such history — all concerned should be commended for their efforts in its rescue and ongoing restoration. She very much enjoyed the historical aspects of the place.
After the tour we returned to the Mitchel Observatory where the visit had begun for us and we were treated to a fine view of Jupiter and its Galilean moons. I was allowed to move the scope around a bit and fished for nearby objects. In over 160 years of use the telescope has outlived it's German makers and the American astronomers who installed and first used it. It has outlived hundreds and possibly thousands of people who, over the years, have scientifically or more casually gazed at the heavens thorough it's beautifully crafted lenses. That night the opportunity came to me as, momentarily, its most current user. To touch and operate such an instrument; to look with it at the wonder and inconceivably ancient beauty of the cosmos; to share that honor and a privilege with those many who have gone before was a moving and memorable experience. Thank you John and Craig for your kindness and generosity in hosting our visit.
What an interesting tour. I called my husband to look at the larger photo of Merz Telescope and he said "awesome". He was looking at it from the scientific perspective; I looked at it aesthetically and love the look of the timber and brass.