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Charles Messier, in his active observation life, used quite a number of different telescopes. Here follows a list of telescopes Messier listed and stated he used in 1765-69, published in the Connaissance des Tems for 1807 (here taken from Kenneth Glyn Jones' book; FL means "Focal Length", "Mag." Magnification, unfortunately he normally doesn't give the aperture):
1. Ordinary refractor of 25 foot FL, Mag. 138x 2. Achromatic refractor, 10.5 foot FL, owned by M. de Courtanvaux, Mag. 120x 3. Achromatic refractor, 3.25 foot FL (Dollond), owned by Duc de Chaulnes, Mag. 120x 4. Ordinary refractor of 23 foot FL, Mag. 102x 5. Ordinary refractor of 30 foot FL, owned by M. Baudouin, Mag. 117x 6. Campani refractor, owned by M. Maraldi, Mag. 64x 7. Gregorian reflector ('Short') 6 feet FL, owned by M. Lemonnier, Mag. 110x 8. Gregorian reflector 30 feet FL, 6 inch aperture, Mag. 104x 9. Newtonian reflector 4.5 foot FL, Mag. 60x 10. Refractor 1 foot FL, 3-inch aperture, owned by M. de Saron, Mag. 44x 11. Refractor 19 foot FL, of the Paris Observatory, Mag. 76x
It must be a trip to see a 30 foot refractor with an aperture of 6 - 8". Do any of Messier's scopes survive, or do you know if anyone has tried to reproduce one? Grinding the lens for such a scope must take a deft hand. I wonder if they ground the lenses and then measured the f/l, rather than grinding a lens to a specific f'l? What a PITA it would have been to move such a scope manually.
He was probably using Huygenian or similar eps, too. I wish I could go back and give him my f/9.5 105mm acromat. He'd be very happy.
Yeah. The 30' scope caught my eye, too. I wonder what he'd say (aside from Holy Merde!) about my little $350 4.5" grab and go with GoTo? I bet that would be freaky enough. A 9.25" SCT on CGEM with an Ethos would probably blow his brain out his ears without even getting to the EdgeHD optics.
Does anybody know of a definitive biography? I am on the hunt...
Last Edit: Mar 27, 2012 22:31:59 GMT -6 by patrickm
Only one I can find is in French: Jean-Paul Philbert "Charles Messier: Le Furet des Cometes" (Charles Messier "The ferret of comets"). My French is tres rusty, but I believe they would translate this as "comet hunter" ("ferreting out"). I will anyway, because it makes sense. Bummer my French is so dusty or I'd take a crack at it.
So, Paulie, you have your opening!
Last Edit: Mar 31, 2012 8:34:55 GMT -6 by patrickm