Historical photographs

Parsons telescope. From the Renaissance to today

Parsons telescope. From the Renaissance to today

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William Parsons (1800-1867), third count of Rosse, was a famous British astronomer. Deputy in the House of Commons from 1821 to 1834 and representative of Ireland in the House of Lords from 1845, he was a great fan of astronomy.

Between 1842 and 1845 he built the largest telescope of the entire 19th century, the Lesonthan of Parsonstown, which had a 1.83 m diameter mirror, weighed almost 4 tons and was mounted at the bottom of a 13-meter-long tube that It was only mobile in the direction of the meridian. With this telescope he revealed the spiral structure of some nebulae.

The refinement of the telescope and the construction of increasingly large mirrors allowed to obtain direct evidence on the nature of the spiral nebulae. At the end of the 19th century, William Herschel and William Parsons managed to solve the images of the nebulae in stars similar to those of our own Galaxy. The definitive demonstration that spiral nebulae are effectively galaxies like ours could only be given after the development of spectroscopy, at the beginning of the 20th century.

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Herschel TelescopeMeeting in Berlin
Album: Images from the history Gallery: From the Renaissance to today