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Printing Plate - Great Melbourne Telescope Visitors Ticket, circa 1890 Object Reg. No: ST 024202

Summary:
Hand engraved copper printing plate, for printing admittance tickets for public viewings of the Great Melbourne Telescope.

There was onsiderable public demand for viewing the telescope and looking at celestial objects through it. Melbourne Observatory offered night-time public viewings during the phase of the full moon, when conditions for research observations were poor.
Description:
Rectangular copper plate.
Statement Of Significance:
This printing plate is significant for demonstrating the huge public demand to gain access to the Great Melbourne Telescope for demonstrations and viewings. The demand was such that in the 1880s and 1890s Melbourne Observatory instituted a booking system, with visitor's passes indicating the date and number of people in the group.

Withing a few years of the telescope's installation, Government Astronomer Robert Ellery complained: 'The great demand made by visitors on his [the Great Melbourne Telescope observer's] observing time is, however, a serious hindrance, for although 3 or 4 nights a month are usually set aside for visitors, a month seldom passes without other nights also being taken up with them. I have used every reasonable means of limiting this encroachment on our working power, with some little, but not sufficient, success.' (Robert Ellery, Report of the Government Astronomer, 28 May 1874.)

In 1880-81, 82 nights were occupied with visitors, due to the number of visitors in Melbourne for the International Exhibition.

When the telescope ceased to be used for research work on nebulae, from 1888, it was primarily used to demonstrate to visitors. By 1895 public visits were curtailed due to the reduction in staff resulting from the 1890s depression.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Victoria: Local Government Department Office of Trade Measurement (formerly Weights & Measures Branch), 1957
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 1 mm (Height), 98 mm (Width), 68 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: observatories, printing, telescopes
Themes this item is part of: Great Melbourne Telescope, Information & Communication Collection, Positional Astronomy at Melbourne Observatory, Weights & Measures at Melbourne Observatory, Melbourne Observatory & Standard Time in Victoria, Astrographic Catalogue, Transits of Venus, 1874 & 1882, Buildings at Melbourne Observatory, Star Observations & Personal Equation, Meteorology at Melbourne Observatory, 1863-1908, Melbourne Observatory, 1863-1944, Geodetic Survey of Victoria, 1858-1872
Primary Classification: COMMUNICATIONS
Secondary Classification: Printing
Tertiary Classification: printing type, blocks & plates
Inscriptions: Copper printing plate inscribed: 'Great Melbourne Telescope / Admit M________________ / Number of persons in party _____ / Date ________ 189 '.
User: Melbourne Observatory, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia, 1890s

Comments

Barry Clark Posted on 10 Feb 2011 9:21 PM
The GMT was used for drawing the surface details on Mars in 1894, so it's not correct to say its research use ended in 1888.

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