Lot 9
  • 9

Ellery, Robert John Lewis

Estimate
5,000 - 8,000 USD
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Description

  • Three Lunar Photographs Executed at the Melbourne Observatory, n.d.
  • photographs, cardstock
3 albumen prints (each approximately 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.) mounted on card stock (11 1/2 x 9 in.)  Each with the label of John Browning, 63 Strand London to verso, one with a printed label to front stating "The Moon, From a photograph taken with the great Melbourne Reflector, by Mr. Ellery, F. R. S." Occasional minor scuffing and creasing to photographs, some soiling and wear to card stock.   

Provenance

Ex collection of Ewen Whitaker, lunar scientist and astronomer

Catalogue Note

Ellery was the director of the earliest permanent observatory in Australia — the Melbourne Observatory, established in 1863 — and oversaw the installation and operation of the Great Melbourne Telescope, one of the last of a number of large speculum reflectors which became prominent in the nineteenth century and were especially associated with Irish astronomy. The idea for this telescope was first conceived by T. R. Robinson of Armagh Observatory to continue Sir John Herschel's southern hemisphere observations of nebulae. The initial scheme foundered but was revived with interest from Melbourne in 1862. Ordered from Thomas Grubb of Dublin in 1866, the Cassegrain telescope with equatorial mounting and 48 inch primary mirror was delivered and installed in 1869. Although a number of difficulties with the mirrors and other aspects of the telescope were overcome, and some fine drawings of nebulae were made by Ellery's assistants, the telescope was at best a mixed success. Adequate means were not to hand for publication of the delicate drawings, and, while some fine photographs of the moon were taken, the telescope was not sufficiently stable for the longer exposures required for stellar photography and was unsuited for spectroscopy (DNB).
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