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The Dome and the Merz Telescope

In the dome, on the last floor of the palace, there is the refractor telescope that was ordered to the German constructor Georg Merz (1793-1867) in 1862 by Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli, the freshly appointed director of the Astronomical Observatory of Brera.

The telescope was placed at the end of 1874 in the new dome opportunely projected and built on the tower north-east of the Observatory.

With this instrument, Schiaparelli observed Mars for a long time, from the particularly favourable 1877 opposition.
In his description of the planet, Schiaparelli drew several dark straight lines producing a complex system, resembling canals; their regularity made him guess that intelligent beings could have projected and built them.

Merz Telescope The Dome


The objective of the refractor has a diameter of 218 mm (8.05 French inches), a focal length of 3.15 m, and it is until today in a very good state of preservation, despite its natural ageing.

The objective presents a slight green colour that was present at Schiaparelli's time already, it turns achromatic in the red-green portion of the spectrum and causes an excess of blue.

Because of this characteristic, the instrument came out particularly suitable to observe Mars, with its peculiar reddish surface.
telescopio Merz
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The Merz refractor telescope

The restoration of the Merz refractor telescope
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