'Fireside, Patricroft' after a drawing by James Nasmyth, c 1840.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This engraving from his autobiography shows James Nasmyth (1808-1890) in the garden of his home in Patricroft, Manchester. Now best remembered for developing the steam hammer, Nasmyth was a successful engineer and industrial entrepreneur. He also had a lifelong interest in astronomy and used the workshops of his nearby factory to build his own telescopes. He is shown seated at his largest telescope, a reflecting instrument with a 20 inch (508mm) metal mirror made of speculum, a bronze alloy. Nasmyth was particularly skilled in the difficult art of casting such mirrors. He made a special study of the Moon with this telescope, and later wrote about his ideas on the lunar surface in his book, 'The Moon', which he published in 1879.