The speaker at the May meeting is John Briggs, the title of his talk is "Early American Telescopes and their Makers".
The May meeting will be at 7 pm in room C1154 at the Front Range Community College, 2190 Miller Drive, Longmont. Enter through door C1 which is at the southeast end of the classroom building. A campus map is available here.
American astronomers were fortunate when world-class telescopes and related instrumentation became locally available starting in the 1850s. Before the work of artisan-engineers like Henry Fitz, Alvan Clark & Sons, John A. Brashear, and Warner & Swasey, American astronomers imported European instruments at great expense and inconvenience. But with the rise of instrument making in this country, the situation evolved to a point where European researchers turned to the United States for the largest optics. In a lavishly illustrated presentation, John W. Briggs, a past president of the Antique Telescope Society, will explain the rise of American instrument making, including interesting details from the lives of the pioneering telescope makers who made it possible.
John W. Briggs is Astronomer in Residence at the HUT Observatory near Eagle, Colorado. John’s current work includes CCD photometry for asteroid rotation studies, solar system astrometry, and educational projects involving schools, science centers, and related organizations. Recently a visiting scholar at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, John served for many years as an instrumentation engineer based at the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory. Among projects during that time were pioneering experiments with sodium laser `guide stars' now commonly used in adaptive optics; instrument commissioning for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey; field engineering for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope Site Survey; and three visits to Antarctica, including a winter-over at South Pole Station for Chicago’s Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica. In earlier days John served as a parallax observer at Wesleyan’s Van Vleck Observatory. In residence at Mount Wilson, he observed chromospherically active stars for the long-running HK Project, the results of which suggest that stars have solar-like Maunder minima in their magnetic activity cycles. He also served as an assistant editor at Sky & Telescope magazine in the 1980s. John conducts the Hartness House Workshop series in conjunction with the annual Stellafane convention in Springfield, Vermont, and he was the organizer of the 2012 symposium at Mount Wilson Observatory for the Transit of Venus.