THE WRAY-BRYDON TELESCOPE
HE CENTRE’S prized telescope is a clock-driven 100 mm refractor on an equatorial mount. It goes without saying that it has an interesting history. We know a great deal about its provenance thanks to Dr. Kenneth Wright, a staff member at the DAO and a Victoria Centre president from 1964-66. Dr. Wright’s typewritten notes are stored in the Centre’s archives and the following description and history are drawn from his work.
Who Made the Telescope?
Wray, a famous London lens maker, made the 4-inch main lens, and marked it “Wray, London”. It gives beautiful definition. James Foster made the telescope tube and engraved it with his mark: “J. Foster, 40 Colbourne St., Toronto. “Stewart of London” made the equatorial mounting and the drive clock.
The Telescope‘s History
Alan Frederick Miller, a past president of the Astronomical and Physical Society of Toronto bought the telescope in 1882. That society was the predecessor of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, which obtained its royal charter in 1903, with Miller as one of the charter members.
The telescope is 20 years older than the RASC.
In 1931 Millar lost his eyesight and he sold the telescope to H. Boyd Bryden, who was Centre president from 1934-36. Miller used the telescope for serious research and published several papers on his spectroscopic studies.
Inside Bob Bryden’s Observatory, circa 1931.
This telescope was one of few available to the Centre at that time.
Boyd Bryden mounted the telescope in his observatory at 2390 Oak Bay Ave., and added the spectroscope and grating in order to observe solar prominences.
- On October 1, 1943, the Victoria Centre purchased the refractor, accessories and observatory from Boyd Bryden, but it remained on his property until he died in 1947.
At that time the observatory and the telescope were moved to Robert Peter’s home in Gordon Head. Later, in 1949, the Centre renamed the telescope the “Wray-Bryden” telescope in Bryden’s honour. Robert Peters died aged 93 in 1965 and the Center moved the telescope to the Sooke home of another member, Norman Rogers.
- Another move took place the next year when the telescope was mounted in the Climenhaga Observatory on the Elliott Building’s roof at UVic. Then, in 1973 it was moved into storage inside the Elliott Building.
Installed in the Centre of the Universe
- On June 9, 2001 it was agreed by the Victoria Centre and the Centre of the Universe that the historic scope should be taken out of storage and placed on permanent public display alongside other exhibits in the Centre of the Universe’s main hall.
Telescope and Mount
The telescope tube is brass and its equatorial mount is a mix of gunmetal and brass. It also has a clock drive. A massive 5’6” cast-iron pillar guarantees the telescope’s stability, enabling rock-steady viewing.
When it was originally set up in Victoria, the mount was completely overhauled by S. S. Girling, a former instrument maker at the DAO. At that time a ball thrust bearing was fitted to the polar axis and new clamps and slow-motion mechanisms provided better control from the eyepiece location.
Hour and declination circles are graduated on silver and are provided with verniers to read to five seconds of time and one minute of arc respectively. The hour circle is of Airy’s design, which permits setting the telescope on the desired object without calculation.
The telescope is then swung about the axis until the fixed mark on the meridian reads the sidereal time on the same circle. Both circles are fitted with microscopes and illuminated by low voltage lights. An equatorial mount and clock drive permits tracking celestial objects. The clock drive is weight driven—just like a grandfather clock—and an adjustable governor controls its speed.
The silver setting circles allow an observer to find any object with ease. The astronomer reads the fine right ascension and declination markings with small, illuminated magnifying lenses. Clamps and slow motion knobs make it easy to control the telescope without moving from the eyepiece.
Seven eyepieces giving magnifications of 30, 60, 120, 180, 210, and 300 with a Barlow lens doubling the magnification.
The finder scope has illuminated cross hairs (illuminated cross hairs were still a luxury in Dr. Wright’s day); a Herschel wedge diagonal for solar observation, several neutral filters, an adjustable neutral-tinted glass wedge; a prism star diagonal making it convenient to observe stars that are high in the sky; a Hilger 5-prism McLean spectroscope fits on the eyepieces; a Simms filar micrometer and a Browning spectroscope with Roland-Brashear grating ruled with 14436 lines on metal.