SILVER AND GLASS
THE TWENTIETH-CENTURY TELESCOPE
Monsieur Foucault was not amused. 'Le télescope de Lord Rosse est un blague,' he fumed. 'Pour les anglais le mien n'existe pas…'.
Lord Rosse's telescope is a joke. For the English, mine does not
exist: it has been, it is, it will be for some time as if it had never hap-
pened; in spite of it they made me an honorary doctor.
Written after a visit to Ireland in 1857, Foucault's words were understandably bitter—even if he had rather got hold of the wrong end of the stick regarding the exact nationality of his hosts at Dublin University.
Léon Foucault (1819–1868) was a physicist who, in that same year of 1857, had completed a refined 33 cm (13 inch) aperture reflecting telescope on a sturdy fork-type equatorial mounting. Refined it might have been, but surely, if it were compared with Rosse's 6 ft Leviathan, wouldn't the joke be on Foucault? But Foucault's little telescope boasted something
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Publication information: Book title: Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope. Contributors: Fred Watson - Author. Publisher: Allen & Unwin. Place of publication: Crows Nest, N.S.W.. Publication year: 2007. Page number: 248.
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