- Alvan Clark & Sons
Alvan Clark & Sons was an American maker of
opticsthat became famous for crafting lenses for some of the largest refracting telescopes of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Founded in 1846 in Cambridgeport, Massachusettsby Alvan Clark(1804–1887, a descendant of Cape Cod whalers who started as a portrait painter, and his sons George Bassett Clark(1827–1891) and Alvan Graham Clark(1832–1897). Five times, the firm built the largest refracting telescopes in the world.
The convert|18.5|in|mm|sing=on Dearborn telescope (housed successively at the
University of Chicago, Northwestern Universityand Adler Planetarium) was commissioned in 1856 by the University of Mississippi. The outbreak of civil war prevented them from ever taking ownership. As a result it was being tested in Cambridgeport when Alvan Graham observed Sirius Bin 1862.
In 1873 they built the convert|26|in|mm|sing=on
objective lensfor the refractor at the United States Naval Observatory. In 1883, they build the convert|30|in|mm|sing=on telescope for the Pulkovo Observatoryin Russia, the convert|36|in|mm|sing=on objective for the refractor at Lick Observatorywas made in 1887, and the convert|40|in|mm|sing=on lens for the Yerkes Observatoryrefractor, in 1897, only ever exceeded in size by the lens made for Great Paris Exhibition Telescope of 1900.
The company's assets were acquired by the
Sprague-Hathaway Manufacturing Companyin 1933, but continued to operate under the Clark name. In 1936, Sprague-Hathaway moved the Clark shop to a new location in West Somerville, Massachusetts, where manufacturing continued in association with the Perkin-Elmer Corporation, another maker of precision instruments. Most of Clark's equipment was disposed of as scrap during World War II, and Sprague-Hathaway itself was liquidated in 1958. Chabot Space and Science Center Percival Lowellusing the 24" Alvan Clark & Sons telescope at Lowell Observatory United States Naval Observatory
convert|40|in|mm|sing=on Refractor Telescope-1897.jpg|1897
convert|40|in|mm|sing=on Refractor Telescope-2006.jpg|2006
Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, California
* Deborah Jean Warner and Robert B. Ariail, "Alvan Clark & Sons, artists in optics" (2nd English ed.) Richmond, VA. : Willmann-Bell, in association with National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, 1995 (1996 printing), 298 p. ISBN 0-943396-46-8
* Timothy Ferris, "Seeing in the Dark" Simon & Schuster 2002; 117p. ISBN 0-684865-79-3
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