Historical telescope returns to the Foundations

About us
The valuable instrument was lost for over 50 years.

Historic telescope on the viewing platform of the Historic Orphanage

It was lost for over 50 years, but now a rare telescope has found its way back to the Foundations. According to experts, the history of the astronomical instrument probably begins in the first half of the 19th century in Halle, where the telescope was made in a workshop within sight of the Orphanage. The mechanic G. Kleemann, who was named as a member of the Naturwissenschaftlicher Verein in Halle in 1850, lived and worked there, and a very similar telescope by him is preserved in a German private collection. Further research suggests that the foundations acquired the instrument to use it for astronomy lessons on the roof of the orphanage or the Pädagogium. In a written source from 1831, the then director Hermann Agathon Niemeyer (1802-1851) reports that »the pupils are led to astronomy by the knowledge of the starry sky«. In it, he also speaks of an »optical cabinet«, i.e. a collection of optical and astronomical equipment, to which the rediscovered telescope probably once belonged. The instrument was used for astronomy lessons at the EOS in the Francke Foundations, today's Latina August Hermann Francke, until the 1960s. When a former EOS pupil bought it from his physics teacher in 1966, the telescope and the foundations went their separate ways.

55 years later, an advertisement by the former pupil on the Ebay sales platform attracts the attention of the foundations. The advertisement reads: »The device comes from the Physics Materials Collection of the EOS in the Frankesche Stiftung (Latina A. H. Franke) in Halle/Saale; purchased in 1966«. After contacting and successfully negotiating the price with the seller, the historical object was finally able to resume its original place in the Foundation's collections after a long absence. Once further research into the origin and history of the telescope has been completed, the astronomical instrument will be able to be marvelled at and sometimes used in exhibitions and other projects in the future.