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Walking on the Moon

A couple of Secretan Telescopes

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Well, I've found the bigger 120cm telescope, and what a beauty she is!


She's very much alive and well at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence in the south of France. The telescope was originally installed in the Paris Observatory in 1875 and was in use there from 1879 and 1897. When the OHP was created the telescope was restored by Secretan which worked on the mechanics in 1941 and the optics in 1942. The telescope saw first light in its new location the following year. The first mirror, cast by the Compagnie Saint-Gobain in 1863 and worked by Adolphe Martin in 1876, was apparently unsatisfactory and was repolished by  André Couder in 1931. Unfortunately the mirror was accidentally chipped in 1945 but a second mirror, cast by Saint Gobain in 1877 and polished by Couder, was installed in 1953.


The Observatory and telescope in the 1940s






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And an update!

I'm now in contact with Sergio Ilovaisky who is an astrophysicist at the Observatoire de Haute-Provence. Hopefully I will be able to buy the photograph of their telescope for the Observatory's archive - it's certainly where it deserves to be!

Monsieur Ilovaisky also asked me to post a link to the Observatory, which of course was my omission but is now my pleasure. The home page of the Observatoire de Haute-Provence is:


General information in English can be found at:


and there is a page on the history of their telescopes, in French, at:


If you're in the area (about 50 miles north of Marseilles), general public visits on Wednesdays can be booked through the local tourist office at Saint-Michel-l'Observatoire until 6th July, and from 7th September to the 2nd November



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A fascinating thread and some lovely old photographs. I'm glad you've tracked down one of the telescopes.

I am not much help to you with regards the other, but I've sent two emails to two other Society for the History of Astronomy members (one being the president) who I know are interested in the history of old telescopes and mounts, so hopefully they may be able to offer some further information.


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