Rev Ellison Telescope

In late 2009 I was given an old telescope to "see if it was any good". It was clearly old, I guessed 50-60 years, custom built, and unfortunately much the worse for wear. The main tube was split & bent, and the finder & focuser had been squashed into the main tube deforming it.

Carefully taking it apart, I was astonished to find that all the optics were original and intact, including both mirrors, the finder, and an eyepiece.

Best of all the primary mirror was signed & dated on the back - Rev Wm F A Ellison, 1912. He had also intriguingly etched his initials in a box with what appeared to be shamrock leaves on either side. (see photo below)

An internet search soon identified the Rev Ellison to have been an important person, including being an accomplished amateur telescope maker, Director of the Armagh Observatory and author of 'The Amateur's Telescope' published in 1920. The Armagh Observatory have a pdf scan of this book on their website, and there at Fig29 was the telescope I had just taken apart!

My original plan was to restore the telescope just sufficiently to check the quality of the optics. This done, I decided to press on and try and restore the telescope to as near the condition the Rev Ellison would have used it in. This is now complete, except for the azimuth part of the mount and the tripod.


The tripod will be easy as it is basically three table legs!

The azimuth mount is missing altogether and so I have nothing on which to base a reconstruction. Theonly known photo is the one in his book, which does not show any details. When I have some more time I will make a replica of the type of mount built by John Browning, who was a contemporary of Ellison.

I would like to thank the following in particular for their help during the restoration, be in advice, time or other help.

The current Armagh Observatory Director, Prof Mark Bailey; and his staff.

William FA Ellison, grandsonof the Rev William Ellison

Julian Ellison, great grandson of the Rev William Ellison;

Gavin O'Shea, Brian Johnson, Graeme Ross & Thales Optronics

Follow the sub-menu links above in the menu bar to check out the whole restoration process!

AstroKeith 2014