This page has been validated.



Of course he was only writing in fun, but an old proverb says that "There's many a true word spoken in jest," and so it proved in this instance.

Soon after this the Czar of all the Russias wished to have the largest lens in the world for his observatory at Pulkovo, near Petrograd. The Alvan Clarks were given the order for a 30-inch lens, and at the same time the machinery for the telescope was to be made by the brothers Repsold at Hamburg. As a young man beginning astronomy, I had the privilege of seeing this great telescope in the workshop at Hamburg in 1884, and I well remember my astonishment, not only at the size of the telescope, but at the number of beautiful devices for working it, especially at the eye end. When an astronomer is looking through a telescope, it is a great convenience to him to be able to make notes and measures of what he sees without taking his eye away: William Herschel had his sister Caroline to make the notes for him, but other astronomers have not had such devoted sisters. The Repsolds had accordingly arranged for the observer to do all manner of things by pressing this button or turning that screw, while he was still looking continuously at the star or planet under observation. But no arrangements are perfect, and an eminent German astronomer who was inspecting the telescope when I was there pointed out that this complicated apparatus would infallibly collect much cigar ash!

The Czar was not allowed to remain long in possession of the largest lens: one of 36 inches was ordered for the Lick Observatory and again the Alvan Clarks succeeded in making it. James Lick