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Historical Broederstroom Observatory

This observatory, situated on the present-day Toppieshoek Outdoor Leadership Development Centre near Hartebeestpoort Dam in a nature reserve area, was started in 1954 as the result of the increasing light pollution around Johannesburg. First the Franklin-Adams telescope was moved there and this was followed in 1957 by the Rockefeller telescope, which belonged to the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands. Also, at that time, the Leiden "light collector" telescope and its five-channel VBLUW photometer, built under the direction of Th. Walravens and his wife, was brought into use. In 1975 a more complex spectrophotometer was installed. In 1978 the flux collector was transferred to the ESO site at La Silla in Chile. The Rockefeller telescope was made over in 1982 to the CSIR.

The December issue of MNASSA has an aerial view of the Observatory, showing the location of the Franklin-Adams telescope, the building of the Rockefeller telescope, the building that housed the Leiden flux collector and the Director's house.

Mr Jan Wolterbeek provided the following information about the telescopes:

Franklin-Adams: The main camera has a lens diameter of 25cm with focal length 112.3 cm (f/4.5). The guiders both have objectives of 15cm diameter and 174cm focal length. There is a small camera with 90 mm aperture and f=508mm, giving a plate scale of 405 arcsec per mm.

Rockefeller: Has two cameras, each of 40cm aperture and f=229cm. The guider has 20cm aperture and f=345cm, and the finder has 10cm aperture and f=120cm. There are also two objective gratings.

The future of the telescopes is uncertain as the site is now owned by the Tshwane University of Technology (formerly Technikon Pretoria) and is used by the Toppieshoek Leadership Development Centre.

For further historical information, see [http://www.saao.ac.za/assa/html/his-pl-obs_-_leiden.html]

(Ian S. Glass)

[From mnassa, 63(11&12), 170-171] (includes photographs)
 

 

 

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