A major project to overhaul the Sydney Observatory’s 11.5? Schroeder Telescope has been recently completed. It coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Observatory on 5 June 2008. The key aim was to return the telescope to its 1870s appearance and configuration. New operational and maintenance plans were also developed.
The telescope has been well maintained as an operating instrument of the Sydney Observatory. It was painted the same colour grey as the other operating instruments at the Observatory during the 1960s and 1970s. The telescope is classified as one of the museum’s most significant objects and is currently used to demonstrate the observational technologies of the 1870s and 1880s.
The project started in April 2008, when the main lens, eyepiece, focusing assembly, the sighting scope and the other brass components were dismantled and brought back to the Museum’s conservation workshop.
Damaged lacquer and corrosion were removed from these brass components, which were then treated for chlorides and coated with a clear protective lacquer.
The optics and the telescope drive were carefully dismantled, cleaned and realigned ready for installation.
A new eye piece was modified to fit the telescope as the original eye piece was too damaged to be dismantled and realigned.
Original areas of paint on the telescope tube and pillar were identified, samples taken, colour matched and documented.
The telescope tube and pillar were then painted in their original colours (Bristle Green and Monarch Red) in a readily available paint system which can be easily maintained. The telescope was reassembled and on display for the Observatory’s 150th Anniversary weekend and is again part of the Observatory’s public viewings and programs.
The conservation work was undertaken by conservator Timothy Morris with assistance from conservator Skye Mitchell and registrar Carey Ward. Images were taken by conservation photographer, Chris Brothers.