A Tour of Optical History at the Astronomical Lyceum


An online presentation hosted by Skyscrapers, Inc. on Zoom

Presented by John Briggs


Our forefathers in optics allowed a revolutionary ascendancy of American astronomy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Astronomical Lyceum in New Mexico, originally built in 1936 as a theater and gymnasium, now houses a collection of telescopes, optics, archives, and literature from this ascendancy. Its volunteer staff find the artifacts and associated history surprisingly engaging for visitors of all interest levels. The presentation will include unusual items, large and small, created by some of the America’s greatest early optical artists, including Henry and Harry Fitz, Alvan Clark and Sons, Carl and Robert Lundin, John A. Brashear, George Willis Ritchey, and the pioneer of astronomical spectroscopy and photography, Lewis Morris Rutherfurd.

John W. Briggs of Magdalena, New Mexico, has lived and worked at far-ranging observatories in various technical capacities, including Mount Wilson, Yerkes, National Solar, Maria Mitchell, Venezuelan National, Chamberlin, and South Pole Station.