Presenting Wayne Orchiston : ‘Joseph Ward and the Historic Cooke Refractor’

A Sydney City Skywatchers Presentation held at Sydney Observatory

6:30pm, Monday 2 March, 2015
Professor Wayne Orchiston (National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand) presents:
‘Joseph Ward and the Historic Cooke Refractor at the Wanganui Observatory, New Zealand’
Joseph Ward c 1921. Image source http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/biographies/3w4/ward-joseph-thomas

Until quite recently, the historic 9.5-in Cooke refractor at the Ward Wanganui Observatory in the North Island city of Wanganui was the largest refracting telescope in New Zealand. Manufactured in 1859, this is an internationally-important telescope since it is a ‘type specimen’ (in zoological parlance) and features the first all-metal English equatorial mounting ever made. The telescope was used for serious research in England during the nineteenth century, and subsequently in New Zealand after it transferred ‘down under’ in 1902. The man responsible for bringing the telescope to New Zealand was Joseph Ward (1862–1927), who is a remarkable character. He not only discovered many new double stars with the Cooke telescope, but also made refractors and reflectors on a commercial basis. His largest telescope was a 20.5-in Newtonian reflector, which has an interesting history. Professor Orchiston will discuss the English and New Zealand histories of the historic Cooke refractor, and Ward’s bid to make astronomical telescopes more widely available throughout New Zealand at a reasonable price.

Sydney City Skywatchers are very grateful to the Donovan Astronomical Trust for helping fund Professor Orchiston’s visit to Sydney.

Bio: Wayne Orchiston was born in New Zealand, but grew up in Sydney. In 1959 he joined the NSW Branch of the British Astronomical Association, was elected to the Committee at the age of 16, and eventually served as President. Later he was elected an Honorary Life Member when the Branch closed and the Sydney City Skywatchers was formed. Wayne’s early observational interests were in sunspots, meteors, the planets and variable stars, but he also developed a passion for the history of Australian astronomy and particularly the achievements of the Branch’s first President, John Tebbutt of Windsor.

Wayne has B.A. Honours and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Sydney and formerly worked at the CSIRO’s Division of Radiophysics, Sydney Observatory (part-time), Victoria College (later Deakin University, in Melbourne), the National Observatory of New Zealand (as Director), the Anglo-Australian Observatory and the CSIRO’s Australia Telescope National Facility (in Sydney), and finally James Cook University (Townsville) before joining the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) a little over two years ago, where he is a Senior Researcher. He is co-founder and Editor of the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, and in 2013 the IAU named minor planet 48471 Orchiston after him.

SYDNEY CITY SKYWATCHERS welcome members, new members and those interested in astronomy in the city to this presentation. There is a small supper charge $2 Members/ $5 non-members.

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