Refracting telescope on observatory mounting, 1829.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by J Basire showing a sectioned view of the private observatory of Dr John Lee at Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire. Within the dome, Admiral W H Smyth is shown operating the telescope that was built for him in 1828. Fitted with a 5.9-inch lens by Charles Tulley, the telescope was first used by Smyth at his home in Bedford, England where he systematically surveyed the night sky. These observations were later published in his book, 'A Cycle of Celestial Objects' (1844). The first guidebook of the heavens written for the amateur observer, it was an instant succes. Smyth later sold the telescope to his good friend Dr Lee who let him use it to continue his observations from Hartwell House. In 1874 it was used to observe the Transit of Venus.