Sir Patrick Moore described Herschel as ‘the greatest telescope maker of his day.’ The quality of the optics and highly polished telescopic mirrors made from speculum, allowed the observer to see objects in deep space with remarkable clarity for the first time. He supplied his seven foot model to other astronomers, also selling parts for assembly. He went on to build ten, twenty and twenty five foot telescopes, all to a similar design with octagonal mahogany tubes supported on a stand. He may possibly have started work on his twenty foot telescope whilst living in New King Street, but it was not used until he moved to Observatory House in Slough.
‘A Wonder of the World’ - Herschel’s forty foot telescope was the largest telescope in the world for at least half a century, it even appeared on Ordnance Survey maps. It was not his most successful telescope, it was cumbersome and the huge mirrors often cracked or tarnished. The telescope was damaged in a gale in the mid nineteenth century and was subsequently demolished. The museum has a scale model of the forty foot, and an early photograph of it taken by Sir John Herschel framed with wood from the actual telescope.
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