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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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Naval Gazer: 1924

Naval Gazer: 1924

August 18, 1924. "Prof. Hall of Naval Observatory with 26-inch telescope." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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nds, nice observation on the control knobs!

People don't realize how big these refractor 'scopes are. Think about it: A glass objective lens 26" in diameter. Insanely expensive to make. Also very heavy (I'm guessing the weight of the objective lens for this telescope is 80-100kg). Finally, the optical tube assembly has to be really long. The largest refractor ever made was 40", and this 26" unit was the largest in the world when it was made.

That's why they fell out of favor over (mirror-based) reflector telescopes. But for pure mechanical and technical coolness, the old refractors are the best.

Plus, you get to look straight through it, like a "real" telescope (and unlike a reflector).

$125,000 for the telescope

$3.95 for the chair.

Astronomy Legacy

This is Asaph Hall, Jr. (1859–1930). He worked at the Naval Academy on several occasions during his career. He was about 64 when this picture was taken, five years before he retired and six years before his passing.

His father, Asaph Hall III (1829 – 1907), was responsible for the USNO getting this 26-inch telescope. He later found the two moons of Mars with it.

Low Tech

You'd think that somebody could have found a more appropriate viewing chair!


It is devices like this that prompt Martians to keep their shades drawn.

Astronomer's hat

Should be pointy with stars/moons/comets/etc. on it.

The knobs

Note how each of the adjustment wheels has knobs of a different shape (stripes, flats), to identify them by feel.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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