Hand engraved copper printing plate, for printing admittance tickets for public viewings of the Great Melbourne Telescope.

There was considerable public demand for viewing the telescope and looking at celestial objects through it. Melbourne Observatory offered night-time public viewings during the phase of the full moon, when conditions for research observations were poor.

Physical Description

Rectangular copper plate.


This printing plate is significant for demonstrating the huge public demand to gain access to the Great Melbourne Telescope for demonstrations and viewings. The demand was such that in the 1880s and 1890s Melbourne Observatory instituted a booking system, with visitor's passes indicating the date and number of people in the group.

Withing a few years of the telescope's installation, Government Astronomer Robert Ellery complained: 'The great demand made by visitors on his [the Great Melbourne Telescope observer's] observing time is, however, a serious hindrance, for although 3 or 4 nights a month are usually set aside for visitors, a month seldom passes without other nights also being taken up with them. I have used every reasonable means of limiting this encroachment on our working power, with some little, but not sufficient, success.' (Robert Ellery, Report of the Government Astronomer, 28 May 1874.)

In 1880-81, 82 nights were occupied with visitors, due to the number of visitors in Melbourne for the International Exhibition.

When the telescope ceased to be used for research work on nebulae, from 1888, it was primarily used to demonstrate to visitors. By 1895 public visits were curtailed due to the reduction in staff resulting from the 1890s depression.

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