The Townsend Telescope is a historic 6-inch refractor telescope made by Thomas Cooke and Sons of York, England in 1864. Gifted to Canterbury College in 1891, the telescope has been housed in the Observatory tower since it was opened in March 1896. Today the telescope is the only part of the Arts Centre still owned by the University of Canterbury. It is open to the public on clear and partly cloudy Friday nights during New Zealand Standard Time. These public viewing sessions are operated free of charge for the promotion of astronomy.
In 2011, the UC Department of Physics and Astronomy undertook a project to restore the optics and mechanics of the Townsend Telescope after it was damaged during the 22 February 2011 earthquake. The telescope was damaged when the Observatory tower collapsed, and then again when a digger searched the rubble for trapped individuals. Miraculously the objective lens was found unscathed, meaning that the instrument can be restored. The Department plans to rehouse the restored instrument in the newly built Observatory tower at the Christchurch Arts Centre, returning the working telescope to the Christchurch community.
This collection holds material about the history of the Townsend Telescope, the impact of the Canterbury earthquakes on the Observatory and telescope, and the project to restore the telescope.
- Townsend Telescope: Earthquake Impact
- A collection of material about the impact of the 22 February 2011 earthquake on the Townsend Telescope and Observatory tower at the Christchurch Arts Centre. The collection holds photographs of the rubble of the Observatory tower, the damage to each part of the telescope, and Technician Graeme Kershaw with the damaged telescope parts.
- Contains 116 items in 3 collections
- Townsend Telescope: Historic Material
- A collection of photographs and documents about the history of the Townsend Telescope. This collection holds pre-earthquake photographs of the telescope, newspaper articles, documents outlining the history of the telescope, and the Stars in a Cluster book.
- Contains 20 items in 3 collections
- Townsend Telescope: Restoration Project
- A collection of material about the Townsend Telescope restoration project. The project was undertaken by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Canterbury after the Townsend Telescope was damaged during the 22 February 2011 earthquake. This collection holds a copy of the mechanical repair strategy for the telescope and a UC Alumni pamphlet promoting the restoration.
- Contains 2 items