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The Troughton and Simms transit circle of Coimbra Astronomical Observatory from the 1850s: An example of the dissemination of technological developments

Authors: Bonifacio, V.; Malaquias, I.; J. Fernandes

Ref.: Astronomische Nachrichten 330, 544 (2009)

Abstract: Yesterday, as today, technological developments led by large and expensive instrumental projects are later on disseminated to smaller and more affordable devices. In 1847, Airy requested a new transit circle for the Greenwich Observatory. When the first observation was performed, on 4 January 1851, Airy ´s Greenwich Transit Circle (ATC) was the largest instrument of its class in the world. The construction of the ATC implied solving several technical difficulties, for example, the maintenance of the instrument rigidity and the illumination of the graduated circle and telescope field of view. After the ATC completion Troughton and Simms stand at the 1851 Great London Exhibition included two small transit instruments which were praised for their telescope field of view/eyepiece wires illumination. One of which, was based upon the design implemented beforehand on the ATC. In this paper we will discuss the field and eyepiece wire illumination innovations introduced on the ATC and the Simms transit instruments exhibited in 1851. We will also describe the small Troughton and Simms transit circle currently belonging to Coimbra Astronomical Observatory collection that is, we believe, one of the earliest implementation of this ATC lead development.

DOI: 10.1002/asna.200911214