Marcus Granato† and Márcia Pinheiro Ferreira*

† Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (MCTI/MAST) – Rua General Bruce, 586,

Bairro Imperial de São Cristóvão, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, 20921-030

* Fundação Casa de Rui Barbosa (MINC) – Rua São Clemente,

134 – Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil, 22260-000

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Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (MAST) is a science and technology museum located in Rio de Janeiro.  It shares a campus with the National Observatory.  The observatory’s buildings were completed in 1921, including the observation pavilions, three of which are shelter meridian telescopes.  Part of the National Observatory’s tangible heritage was transferred to MAST for its preservation when the museum was created in 1985.  All the buildings, collections and archives have been listed in 1986 by the federal heritage protection agency IPHAN.  This research focuses on one historical scientific instrument in particular, addressing the timeline of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope, part of the MAST collection, with the aim of gathering knowledge and information to help in the restoration of this instrument.  The methodology used in this study was a literature review, an analysis of primary and secondary sources and interviews with specialists who could contribute with their experience to the development of these studies.

Keywords: scientific instruments; astronomical instruments, observatory, scientific heritage; Bamberg transit; conservation; MAST; Zeiss; Brasil.

MAST and the historical site for observing the sky

The Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (MAST), a science and technology museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was inaugurated on 8 March 1985 with the mission of preserving Brazilian scientific memory.  To this end, it engages in preservation activities, historical research and the development of educational resources (ref.1).

MAST and the National Observatory occupy a 44,000 m^2 campus on Morro de São Januário (São Januário hill) in Rio de Janeiro, which preserves the historic buildings that comprise the museum’s original built heritage.  Fig. 1 shows a labeled site plan of MAST and the Observatório Nacional.

MAST site plan

Fig. 1: Labeled site plan of MAST and the Observatório Nacional (Designed by Ivo Almico, 2015)

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The buildings and collections from the National Observatory were listed by the national heritage protection agency (IPHAN) on 14 August 1986 and the state heritage protection agency (INEPAC) on 9 October 1987 1.  It is one of the very few science and technology collections protected by law in Brazil.  The set of pavilions that make up the observing site, with their respective astronomical instruments, is a unique feature of the site, not least because the instruments have never been modernized and remain where they were originally installed.  Fig. 2 shows the MAST main building, originally the Observatory’s administrative building.

MAST main building

Fig. 2: MAST main building (Photo: Jaime Accioly, Mast Archives, 2010).

The pavilions for the 32 cm, 21 cm and 46 cm equatorial telescopes are set at the highest elevations to ensure the horizon is free of visual barriers.  The architecture in the complex is harmonious, with a consistent layout and spatial composition, the same overall proportions, and similar decorative elements and surface materials.  The domes or pavilions all have a main space with a circular floor plan in which the instruments are installed, raised off the ground by a functional basement, and a vestibule with a rectangular floor plan that gives access to the inside.  The pavilions under the care of MAST (for the 21 cm and 32 cm telescopes) are used for permanent exhibitions designed to take advantage of their circular format and other peculiarities 2.

The pavilions for the meridian instruments, with a rectangular cross-section, were built at the same time, and house the Askania, Bamberg and zenith telescopes.  There is also a pavilion for the Gautier meridian circle, which was partially demolished by the National Observatory in the 1960s.  Its deplatated state impaired the harmony of the set of buildings until 2003-2005, when MAST undertook a careful restoration project for the Gautier meridian circle and the rehabilitation of its pavilion, reconstituting the group of buildings 3.

There are reports of termite infestations affecting different parts of the observatory dating as far back as 1935 4.  Morize 5 mentions the disposal of documents rendered irretrievable by moisture and the action of termites at the observatory’s former premises on Morro do Castelo (Castelo hill).  Official correspondence from the National Observatory to the Ministry of Agriculture reports the disposal of two new instruments from the time when it was already at São Januário hill because their metal structure had been corroded by the liquid secreted by termites.

Different correspondence and reports by the observatory document a shortage of staff to conduct the research, maintenance and cleaning required for an institution of such importance. Termite infestations, successive leaks, funding gaps, the conscription of personnel and political, institutional and federal upheavals meant that many documents were not preserved, making it hard to reconstitute the history of the observatory, despite the best efforts of archival inquiry.

This study presents the findings of research undertaken using primary and secondary sources with the aim of collecting data to establish the timeline of the use of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope (also known as a broken axis or axis-view transit telescope), an object from the MAST collection which is being appraised for potential restoration.  As such, the context of its use and the values attributed to the museological object are fundamental aspects to be taken into consideration.

The Astronomical Observatory of Rio de Janeiro

Throughout the eighteenth century, the Portuguese government did little to encourage the development of science in Brazil.  It was only with the arrival of Dom João VI, fleeing the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal, and his successor Dom Pedro I that this state of affairs changed in any significant way.  Rudimentary astronomical observations were conducted from the early 1800s at Escola Militar (the military academy) in Rio de Janeiro, but it was only on 15 October 1827 that the emperor decreed, that an astronomical observatory should be created with the objective of producing astronomical and meteorological data, and to give courses in astronomy to students of the military and naval academies (op. cit. ref. 5).

For multiple reasons, the astronomical observatory only began its activities in the mid-nineteenth century.  Based at Escola Militar, it was first directed by Soulier de Sauve, who was appointed in 1845 by Jerônimo Francisco Coelho, the Minister for War (op cit. ref. 5).  The Imperial Observatory inherited its first instruments from the military academy, but as its observation tower did not provide suitable conditions for observing the sky, these instruments were left idle.

In 1846, the name of the observatory was changed by official decree to the Imperial Observatory of Rio de Janeiro 6.  The same decree established the institution’s purpose, rules and regulations: to conduct astronomical and meteorological observations; to educate and train students from Escola Militar (military academy) and Academia da Marinha (naval academy); to publish an astronomical yearbook; and to provide the correct time for ships moored at the port.

Only in 1874 were instrument shelters built on Castelo hill (Fig. 3), in the premises of an abandoned Jesuit church.  However, the derelict state of the building and the significant increase in the glare from the city around the hill prevented the observatory from conducting its activities satisfactorily.  With scant political support, the observatory lacked the resources it needed to renovate its premises or to move to a more suitable site.

Imperial Observatory of Rio de Janeiro, Castelo hill

Fig. 3: Imperial Observatory of Rio de Janeiro, Castelo hill. The pipe frame to the left
of the dome is for the time ball. (MAST collection, second half of the nineteenth century).

When Brazil became a republic in 1889, the Imperial Observatory was renamed the Rio de Janeiro Observatory.  In 1909 it was transferred to the Department of Meteorology and Astronomy and renamed the National Observatory 7.  Its main task was to organize a meteorology service for the whole country – much against the will of its director, Henrique Morize.  Many of the meteorology instruments acquired at this time are now part of the MAST collection.

The ministerial report for 1907 cites the acquisition of new instruments, while the observatory awaited a larger space and investments in new technical personnel.  Controversies about the observatory’s premises on Castelo hill had already been voiced since the mid-nineteenth century.  Reports by its directors repeatedly stated that the land was unstable, which meant large astronomical instruments could not be installed there.  Ultimately, a mixture of political factors and the need to modernize the city conspired to determine that São Januário hill, in the aristocratic neighborhood of São Cristóvão, should become the new premises for the observatory 8.  Fig. 4 shows the set of pavilions after their construction in 1922.

Bamberg elbow transit telescope dome

Fig. 4: Set of pavilions for observing the sky; at right pavilion for the
Bamberg elbow transit telescope between two other pavilions
(Photo: Tulio de Candia, Observatory Archives, 1935).

Some important technical and research work was done at the observatory, especially in determining the official time, weather forecasting, preparing astronomical ephemerides, demarcating the borders of Brazil, making systematic observations of solar eclipses in national territory, and mapping the magnetic properties of Brazilian soils (op. cit. ref. 8).  A great many scientific instruments were used in these tasks, which now form a valuable historical collection.

The study of the collection of instruments at MAST originating from the National Observatory reveals much of the important role of the institution and the scientific methods and practices used in its research, geodesy and meteorology activities and astronomical observations.

Zeiss pavilion for the Bamberg transit telescope

With a metal structure lined inside and outside with horizontal wooden slats and raised on a masonry basement with a rectangular floor plan, the pavilion for the Bamberg elbow transit telescope has large windows opening northwards and southwards used for observations of the sky and to calibrate the instrument, employing a condenser lens and viewfinder, contained inside special shelters in front of the pavilion.  Fig. 5 shows the transit pavilion and condenser lens shelter before restoration.

The pavilion, built by Zeiss 9, has a domed roof with a movable slit which can be opened manually.  The pavilion is accessed by a flight of stairs whose handrail has an art nouveau design, while the basement is accessed by a small door under the stairs.

Bamberg elbow transit telescope pavilion

Fig. 5: Pavilion for the Bamberg elbow transit telescope prior to its restoration
(MAST collection, date and author unknown).

There are two Zeiss pavilions at the observatory’s observation site: a large pavilion built for the Gautier meridian circle, and this medium-sized pavilion – variously referred to as the medium-sized room, room 37 or pavilion 7.  It had initially designed for the Heyde meridian circle.

There are signs that two meridian circles (the “Talcott meridian” and the “time meridian”, as they were known in 1917) were used at São Januário before the Zeiss shelters were completed, but their completion was delayed by the First World War.  Official correspondence no. 84 written by a ministry engineer to the Observatory on 6 September 1917 with later pencilled notes detailed the work yet to be done.  Indeed, the notes are of greater historical value than the official content of the document: “Time meridian room still to be painted, and rack and pinion to be replaced.  Emperor’s dome yet to be painted, including door and window.  All paintwork of Talcott merid room still to be done10.  Note that in 1917, the mechanics working at São Januário drew a distinction between the time meridian and the Talcott meridian.

In 1921, the Bamberg elbow transit telescope was installed in the Zeiss pavillion (op. cit. ref. 4), even though, as already mentioned, it was working at the São Cristóvão hill as of 1917, and which the astronomers were already familiar with and knew how to handle when they were on observation duty 11.

It was with the Bamberg elbow transit telescope that the National Observatory inaugurated the medium-sized Zeiss pavilion in the celebrations to mark the centenary of the nation’s independence, where the instrument was actually used for a longer period of time with the help of a Marconi electric chronograph (registration no. MAST1996/586) and a Strasser pendulum, which was later infested with termites and replaced by an L. Leroy & Co. pendulum (no. MAST1994/426) (op. cit. ref. 4).  In 1963, a small fitted cupboard was built in the pavilion for the workshop staff to store maintenance equipment.

Establishing the age of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope and retracing its subsequent use

It was at the turn of the twentieth century that the Bamberg factory started to produce “elbow” (broken) transit telescopes.  At the universal exhibition held in 1904 12 in Saint Louis, USA, the company exhibited an elbow transit telescope for the first time 13, although it cannot be stated categorically that they did not make any sales of the equipment prior to the event.

Bamberg was established as a scientific instrument maker by Carl Bamberg (1847- 1892) in 1871 14.  In 1921, with the war over and profits steadily dropping, Bamberg’s son-in-law was forced to merge with other makers, resulting in the formation of Askania Werke A.G.  Incidentally, the MAST collection also contains an Askania elbow transit telescope.

Transit telescopes, meridian instruments or geodetic transits are instruments used to determine latitude and longitude and to observe the passage of astronomical objects – stars or planets – across the meridian of an observatory.  Observing the passage of stars across the meridian was the way the time was determined before quartz clocks were introduced, and subsequently atomic clocks, which allowed for far more precise timekeeping.  These instruments could be fixed, sheltered in a pavilion with a slit facing northwards and southwards in its roof, or portable, for use on expeditions.

The historical research first undertaken to make informed decisions about the restoration of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope in the MAST collection indicated that the instrument had been acquired between 1904 and 1907.  However, there is a similar instrument at Washington University, supposedly manufactured in 1904, which has the series number 13,324 engraved on it 15.  As the series number of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope at MAST is much lower (10,783), it is not unreasonable to suppose that Bamberg’s exhibit of the instrument at the universal exhibition resulted in multiple orders and that the MAST telescope was ordered immediately.  The other interpretation is that the maker was already selling the instrument before the 1904 exhibition.  The documents analysed in our research do not indicate that the National Observatory received its “Talcott meridian” before the universal exhibition.

Ministerial reports 16 from the period have been consulted, from which the earliest mention of a transit telescope with special devices and an electric micrometer 17 is from the 1908 report on the activities undertaken at the observatory the year before.  The retailer’s plaque, which is screwed into the base of the instrument, reads as follows: “Suppliers – Janowitzer, Veit & Cia – Rua da Candelária, 11 – Rio de Janeiro”.  This information is very important, because it limits the period when the instrument could have been acquired, since Janowitzer, Veit & Cia (JV&C) changed its name to Janowitzer, Wahle & Co at the end of 1907, after 23 years in business 18.  The quest for more information about JW&C from the company’s heirs has so far failed to yield much in the way of progress.

This 1908 ministerial report is the oldest document about the Bamberg transit so far identified.  We highlight the following passage:

“There is a telescope for the observation of meridian passages with special devices for Talcott latitude determination and an electrical recording micrometer ready to be assembled.  Nevertheless, little may be expected of the Astronomical Observatory until it is properly installed in a larger, better suited building, and staffed with skilled technical personnel in sufficient number.” (op. cit. ref. 16).

The Talcott method of determining latitude depends on levelling the instrument along two axes.  Two spirit levels would be needed, similar to the ones used in civil construction, set in orthogonal directions.  The second level were not attached to the telescope when it was accessioned to the MAST collection at its creation.  However, a memorandum written by mechanic Alfredo de Castro Almeida in 1917 – when the observatory was already operating from its new premises in São Cristóvão – states that the screw for the spirit level had cracked 19.

After 1917, the only documents that mention the Bamberg transit refer to its use in determining official time, longitude determination, observation of stars and planets, determining the irregularities of the Earth’s movement, and so on.  No receipts or customs documents have been found for the period studied.

No proof of purchase from a retailer has been found to confirm the date of acquisition or delivery of the telescope.  However, a report on a technical visit dated 1 February 1910 written to the director of the observatory, Henrique Morize, includes some interesting information for the research of this instrument: “with a relatively inexpensive building, similar to that at the National Observatory, for the Bamberg, it would be possible to mount the transit telescope” 20.  We can therefore deduce that a Bamberg elbow transit telescope was already being used prior to February 1910 at Castelo hill, and the use of the term “the Bamberg” indicates that this was the only instrument by that firm at the National Observatory 21.

In our research, we encountered two reports on Talcott latitude determinations dated 1909 and 1912.  The transcription of the report by the assistant of the Astronomy and Geodesy Department, Domingos Fernandes Costa, does not describe the manufacturer’s number of the “telescope for passages manufactured by Bamberg” 22, but does indicate that the technology was new to the institution and that the model was the same as the instrument we are studying, because the focal length and diameter of the objective are the same:

From 3rd September to 16th October 1909 Professor Morize made 39 observations of 11 different pairs of stars, on 9 nights, with the purpose of determining the latitude of the Castelo Observatory by the Talcott method.  For the observations, he used the telescope for transits manufactured by Bamberg and installed at the SW of the observatory building on the same pillar from which the American Commission made observations in 1878, which determined the geographical position, considered fundamental.  The diameter of the instrument’s objective lens measures 80mm and its focal length is 90cm.  Besides the indispensable ocular micrometer, the device for using the Talcott method has two levels whose constants, determined by Prof. Morize, are as follows: Level B 1 division – 1’’.156 Level C 1 division – 0’’.842 (op. cit. ref. 22).

In the report transcribed by Morize it is possible to note that in 1909 the instrument was being used at Castelo hill, that it was installed in the south-west, and that it continued to be used at the same location in 1912.  According to archive reports, the Bamberg elbow transit and the equatorial telescopes were already installed in the cramped observatory at Castelo hill.

From 24th June to 6th September 1912, the 1st class Assistant of the Astronomy and Geodesy Department, Domingos Fernandes Costa, observed and made a new determination of the latitude by the Talcott method, making 163 observations of 30 different star pairs, on 16 nights, with the same instrument and at the same SW pillar (op. cit. ref. 22).

Two books on the history of the National Observatory describe the instruments in service in further detail (op cit. ref. 4 and op. cit. ref. 5).  Morize (ref. 5) notes that between 1921 and 1922 the observatory was working at the São Januário hill, with an elbow transit telescope whose maker’s series number was 10,783.  This is the Bamberg instrument from the MAST collection, the object of this study.

Brandão (op. cit. ref. 4) writes that in 1962 the smaller meridian pavilion was prepared and the electrical wiring of its viewfinder was renewed to adjust the Askania elbow transit telescope, which was “recently acquired from Germany, while the Bamberg instrument was removed to the storeroom, where its objective lens was later removed to be inserted into a small telescope mounted in the workshop under the supervision of an air force colonel” (op. cit. ref. 4).

The instrument was still being used in February 1971, as it can be checked in the document shown at Fig. 6.  The catalogue entry for the Bamberg transit at MAST records its objective lens from that time (1993).

Meridian observation table

Fig. 6: Table with meridian observations values
(Photo: Selma Junqueira, 2015, Observatory archives).

Many documents have been retrieved by MAST.  Although it is very laborious work, the data from the remaining ministerial reports are gradually being cross-referenced.  There are many gaps in the available information, even though we can deduce that the Bamberg elbow transit telescope in the MAST collection was used for at least six decades.  The main points in its history are set forth below:

1904 – Bamberg launches its elbow transit telescope at the Universal Exhibition in Saint Louis (though the instrument was known in the literature before 1904) 23;

1904 to 1907 – a Bamberg elbow transit telescope is acquired from a local supplier, Janowitzer, Veit & Cia, whose premises are at no. 11, Rua da Candelária;

1907 – an elbow transit telescope with a dual level device and electric micrometer is ready to be installed in the ruins of the church on Castelo hill;

1909 (September to October) – latitude determined by Talcott method; the Bamberg instrument mounted in the south-west of the building on Castelo hill;

1910 (February) – in a technical report, the recommendation is made for “a relatively inexpensive building, similar to that at the National Observatory at the west pillar of Castelo hill, for the Bamberg” (op. cit. ref. 20);

1912 – latitude is determined using the Talcott method from the same pillar at Castelo;

1917 – screw for the spirit level of the Bamberg instrument is broken; the Bamberg instrument remains on the workshop’s list of jobs to be done; subsequently the Bamberg instrument no longer on the workshop’s work list;

1917 – at the new premises in São Januário, the time meridian room and the meridian room for the Talcott instrument have to be painted and the Talcott’s rack and pinion is changed;

1921 – the Bamberg elbow transit telescope is operated with a Marconi chronograph (MAST1996/0586) and a Strasser pendulum, which is retired because of infestation;

1921 / 1922 – the Bamberg elbow transit telescope (10,783) and the Bamberg portable meridian circle (11,845) are used at São Januário to determine the difference of longitude between the SW pillar of Castelo hill and the pillar of the transit used for the official time service at São Januário;

1962 – the Askania elbow transit starts being used in the smaller pavilion and the Bamberg elbow transit telescope is removed to the instrument storeroom;

1967 – the Bamberg elbow transit telescope loses its original objective lens to a handmade telescope built and taken by an air force colonel working at the National Observatory;

1970 – fault in the wiring of the micrometer for the Bamberg transit;

1971 – last report on observations of the sky using the Bamberg elbow transit telescope encountered thus far;

1976 (or slightly earlier) – number of astronomers reduced to three and, as a result. the Bamberg elbow transit telescope is retired (according to Oliveiros Tavares in an interview) (op. cit. ref. 11);

1986 – the Bamberg elbow transit telescope is included in the MAST collection of scientific instruments and listed by the national heritage protection agency, IPHAN;

1993 – parts of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope are catalogued by museologists from the MAST technical processing and conservation team;

2010 – research (historical context and functioning) of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope is begun with a view to its restoration and the production of a virtual 3D model;

2015 – virtual 3D model prepared and analysis for conservation nearly complete.

The research of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope has revealed the historical context in which the instrument was employed, demonstrating its use in determining the official time in Brazil throughout much of the twentieth century and helping in the decision about whether to restore it or not.

Preliminary stage of restoration of the telescope

The incorporation of an object into a museum collection marks a new, symbolic function in its story, but must not undermine its previous record of use.  The historical research of the objects from the collection not only enables the context for their use to be established, but helps in decisions about what restoration investments should be made.

In this new phase of its story as an accessioned historical object, the Bamberg elbow transit telescope has been selected by the MAST museology team as a potential object  for restoration, in parallel to the project to restore another of the meridian pavilions.  Fig. 7 shows a video with a 3D model of the Bamberg instrument.

Fig. 7:  Video with a 3D model  of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope  (video: Ricardo Marroquim, COPPE/UFRJ, 2015).  To download a PC version of this video click here:  Granato avF7

In 2003 MAST established a policy 24 of conservation of the artefacts from its collection, which serves to orient work on instruments such as the one described in this paper.  Research on the materials, function, operation, manufacture and history of the objects in the collection constitutes the daily work of the LAMET team.

This Bamberg elbow transit telescope, probably manufactured in the first decade of the twentieth century, is made of a combination of different metals and glass.  Copper alloys, most commonly brass, were widely used for scientific instrument parts, even in the early 1900s.  Steel and aluminum were rare except in small components, like screws, washers, nuts and bolts.  Glass, commonly used for unpolished lenses, optical windows, concave and convex translucent lenses in optical systems, is also a component of mirrors on the elbow transit telescope and in micrometers.  Compared with the golden colouring of the instrument, the scales engraved in white metal (probably silver) are very discrete.  Meanwhile, the structural iron is coated in a paint of the colour in vogue in industry at the time.

The systematic recording of information is standard practice in the conservation work done by professionals of this area.  This is fundamental for the subsequent stages of the process to ensure the correct conservation of the instruments.  When the Bamberg transit was disassembled, interventions made by people who had used it were revealed, such as those shown in Fig. 8.

Bamberg elbow transit telescope details

Fig. 8: Detail of a part from the Bamberg elbow transit telescope with markings
engraved in the varnish (photo: Ricardo Dias, MAST Archives, 2015).

The astronomers involved in the research together with MAST’s conservation team are checking the inscriptions in the varnish (see Fig. 6) to see whether they match the electrical wiring of the meridian instruments from the National Observatory in the archives of the National Observatory’s Time Service Division in an attempt to understand what they mean.

At every stage of disassembly, the parts are labelled, photographed, drawn and described and each part is treated without erasing any traces of its history.  We have not yet managed to diagnose the state of the telescope’s electrical and optical systems.  Meanwhile, we have identified the poor state of conservation of the graduated glass plate and its support, which are “peeling”, and the fair state of conservation of a metal plate, which are stored separately.

The second spirit level which was used at Castelo hill seems not to have been used at São Januário hill, which is why the transit’s counterweight was also removed.  When LAMET acquired a precision balance, it was possible to identify the counterweight amongst the parts in the museum’s archives still awaiting identification, it corresponds exactly to the weight of this spirit level from the Bamberg elbow transit telescope.  It had been catalogued in 1993 as a separate acquisition without any relation to the telescope.  The colour of the varnish and the way it has aged is the same on both parts, as can be seen in Fig. 9.

Counterweight / level for Talcott latitude determinations

Fig. 9: Counterweight and level for Talcott latitude determinations
(photo: Ricardo Dias, MAST Archives, 2015).


Looking at the distribution of the areas of corrosion, it was possible to observe that the instrument operators physically manipulated the actual tube of the telescope and not just the circle.  There is uniform surface oxidation on the lever at the base and on the verniers of the micrometer – parts used to manoeuvre the instrument – but the corrosion patterns also reveal that the telescope was made to rotate by pushing anywhere along its side.

At the time of writing, all the parts and components of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope are being evaluated for their state of conservation and to decide what interventions should be made.

Concluding remarks

The timeline of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope is still incomplete.  The gaps in the documentation are owing to multiple factors, including insufficient care on the part of scientists or historians in dealing with these objects.

In our research, we found that elbow transit telescopes were very well received by Brazilian astronomers for the greater comfort of use, notwithstanding the problems caused by the skeleton staff of researchers and technical personnel at the National Observatory, which throughout its history represented an obstacle to the use of large, complex meridian circles.

The timeline of the Bamberg elbow transit telescope, part of the MAST collection, studied here for the purposes of defining the best method of restoring it, has been reconstituted through observing the complex, dynamic interactions between inventors, instrument makers, scientists, maintenance professionals and conservation experts.  The greatest quantity of information possible has been sought from work reports, annual reports, management reports, ministerial reports and official correspondence, memoranda, publications and now, historical and conservation research results.  With this, we were able to estimate when the instrument was delivered to the National Observatory and to ascertain that it was used for several decades to calculate the official time in Brazil.

Having obtained this information, we feel justified in proceeding with the restoration of this instrument because of the values attributed to it within the context of Brazil’s scientific heritage.  All that remains is to finish the examination of the state of conservation of the parts to determine what interventions will be made – which will soon be undertaken.




  1.  Marcus Granato and Claudia Penha dos Santos, O Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins e suas Coleções.  In: Granato, M., Lourenço, M. C. (Orgs.), Coleções científicas luso- brasileiras: patrimônio a ser descoberto.  1ed., Rio de Janeiro: MAST, 2010, vol. 1, 47-68.  Available at  Accessed 10 October 2015
  2.  Marcus Granato, Jusselma Duarte and Cristiane Suzuki, “Restauração do Pavilhão, Cúpula Metálica e Luneta Equatorial de 32cm – Conjunto Arquitetônico do Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins MAST”, Anais do Museu Paulista, São Paulo, 13 (2005), pp. 273-314.  Available at  Accessed 8 August 2015
  3.  Marcus Granato, Ive Luciana Coelho da Costa, Antonio Carlos Martins et. al., “Restauração do círculo meridiano de Gautier e reabilitação do pavilhão correspondente – Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins – MAST”, Anais do Museu Paulista, 15 2007, pp. 319-357. 2007.  Available at  Accessed 8 August 2015
  4.  Odílio Ferreira Brandão, Os Meus 40 anos de Observatório Nacional.  Rio de Janeiro: MAST (1999)
  5.  Henrique Morize, Observatório Astronômico: um Século de História (1827-1927), Rio de Janeiro: Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (1987)
  6.  Antonio Augusto Passos Videira, Os 175 anos do Observatório Nacional, Rio de Janeiro: Observatório Nacional, 2002 
  7.  Brazil, Decree 7672 of 18 November 1909
  8.  For further information on the period prior to the existence of the observatory, see: Marcus Granato and Françoise Le Guet Tully, “Les principes de la restauration d’instruments scientifiques: le cas du cercle méridien Gautier de l’observatoire de Rio de Janeiro”, In Situ. Revue des Patrimoines, 10 (2009), pp. 1-34.  Available at:  Accessed 5 August 2015
  9.  Founded by Carl Zeiss (1816-1888) in Jena, Germany.  See Wolfgang Mühlfriedel &  Rolf Walter, Carl Zeiss, die Geschichte eines Unternehmens, Bd.1, Zeiss 1846-1905 (Vienna–Köln–Weimar: Böhlau Verlag, 2015).
  10.  Official correspondence to National Observatory no. 84, 6 September 1917, MAST Archives.
  11.  Oliveiros Cardoso Tavares and Odílio Ferreira Brandão, Entrevista com Oliveiros Cardoso Tavares e Odílio Ferreira Brandão no Pavilhão da Luneta Meridiana Bamberg. (23′ 25″)  Filmed by Durval Costa, (44 m 39 s.).  Edited by MAST.  Rio de Janeiro: MAST, 7 April 1993.  The video contains the testimonials of Oliveiros Cardoso Tavares, Odílio Ferreira Brandão, Vera Pinheiro, Jusselma Duarte and Cláudia Penha dos Santos.  Interview by the Documentation Department of Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (MAST)
  12.  Available at:  Accessed 21 July 2015.
  13.  Official Catalogue of Exhibitors.  Universal Exhibition. St. Louis, U.S.A. 1904, p. 75. Available at:  Accessed 21 July 2015
  14.  Available at:  Accessed 21 July 2015.  See also Gudrun Wolfschmidt, “Telescopes Made in Berlin: From Carl Bamberg to Askania”, in From Earth-Bound to Satellite: Telescopes, Skills and Networks, ed. Alison D. Morrison-Low et al., History of science and medicine library, v.  23, Scientific instruments and collections, v. 2 (Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2012), pp. 177-194.
  15.  Available at:  Accessed 17 May 2015.  After Carl Bamberg’s death in 1892, the firm was continued by his widow and son Paul.  The high serial numbers reflects the broad range of survey and navigational instruments being produced by the firm apparently all of which were numbered in the same sequence
  16.  Observatório Nacional, Report to the Ministry of Industry, Transportation and Public Works, 1908, for the activities performed in 1907.  Available at Available at:  Accessed 25 February 2015
  17.  The electric micrometer sends electric pulses from the transit telescope to the chronograph.  The chronograph is a recording mechanism.  It is driven using weights and gears.  It has two pencil holders on a piece that travels down a track as the drum turns.  One pencil would be connected with the clock and the other with the micrometer which is attached to the transit telescope.  This method substitutes the “eye-and-ear” method, where the astronomer experience and abilities of hearing and seeing were fundamental
  18.  Impressões do Brazil no Seculo Vinte, a book published in 1913 and printed in the UK by Lloyd’s Greater Britain Publishing Company, Ltd., devotes pages 573 to 626 to trade in the capital city, and on page 585 it provides a summarized history of JW&C, stating that JV&C had existed from 1886 to 1907.  Available at:  Accessed 12 December 2014
  19.  Observatório Nacional, Memorandum no3, from the chief mechanic Alfredo de Castro Almeida to the Observatory Director, 25 August 1917
  20.  Observatório Nacional, Report to the Director Morize, of the technical visit made in 01 February 1910, about the installations of the Naval Observatory at Rijo Island
  21.  The disassembly of the instrument at the MAST Laboratory for the Conservation of Metal Objects (LAMET) has revealed the number 1 punched into its parts, which normally relates to the number of parts in the batch.  No other numbers have been found
  22.  Henrique Morize, Observatório Astronômico: um Século de História (1827-1927), Rio de Janeiro: Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (1987), p.170-171.
  23.  G.W. Myers, “Sketch of the Astronomical Work at Munich”, in Popular Astronomy 4 (1896, November), 229-233, at p.231
  24.  Marcus Granato, A restauração de instrumentos científicos históricos. 2003.  Thesis (D.Sc.) Programa de Engenharia Metalúrgica e de Materiais – COPPE/ Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro