View of the Great Melbourne Telescope during its erection at the Melbourne Observatory.

The 48 inch equatorial reflecting telescope was constructed by Thomas Grubb, Dublin and installed at the observatory in 1868-1869. The telescope was used at Melbourne Observatory from July 1869 to 1892 to observe changes in the nebulae of the southern hemisphere. Thereafter it was used only intermittently.

Components of the telescope shipped in wooden crates arrived in Melbourne in November 1868. Assembly started by the end of the year and was completed around April 1869, with the telescope beginning regular operation in July. The photograph shows workers involved in the assembly of the telescope and construction of the purpose-built telescope house. It also depicts a figure leaning against the north pier who is believed to be Albert Le Sueur, the first observer appointed to work with the Great Melbourne Telescope. Le Sueur had been appointed in September 1866 and was present in Dublin during the final stages of manufacture and testing of the telescope, before proceeding to Melbourne to supervise the assembly.

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Workers posing with the partially constructed Great Melbourne Telescope at the Melbourne Observatory, circa January-February 1869. The telescope was erected in the open air, with the building that eventually housed it constructed around the telescope once the main components of the instrument had been assembled. In the background there is a stiff legged derrick or tripod crane, with block and tackle, that was used for lifting the major telescope components into position, including the large riveted lattice section of the optical tube, which had just been fitted prior to the taking of this photograph. One worker is siting astride the optical tube on top of the telescope and another sits on top or the south pier. Other workers are standing about the telescope on either side and to the front and rear, with two men seated in the foreground on the edge of the foundation wall for the telescope house. The partially completed telescope including the polar and declination axes and optical tube have been mounted on two bluestone masonry support piers - set with the polar axis at an inclination of 37.814°, equivalent to the latitude of the observatory. The smartly dressed gentleman with waistcoat and jacket leaning against the north pier of the telescope is believed to be Albert Le Sueur, the first observer appointed to work with the Great Melbourne Telescope.

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