Astronomy at the Maverick Carter House
Manufacturer/Model: Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. New York
Serial Number: 1020
Optical Design: Refractor
Focal Length: 60” or 1524mm
Focal ratio (f-ratio/f-number): f/15
Aperture/Diameter: 4” or 101.6mm
Power/Magnification: 1.125” Eyepieces #?
Mount Type: German Equatorial
Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. New York
Refractor Telescope Circa 1918
Aline B. Carter (1892-1972) purchased the Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. Refractor Telescope circa 1918 and subsequently installed it in the rooftop observatory built in 1925. The octagonal structure, designed by local San Antonio artisan and friend Ethel Wilson Harris, features a manually rotated and gravity mounted dome affixed to a track and wheels. The original altitude-azimuth tripod mount was replaced with an equatorial mount in August 1945 with the assistance of a young lawyer passerby. Aline’s son, David P. Carter (1921-2013), installed the present fluted column base in a later restoration. The 2017 addition of the parquet wood floor of white oak, maple, and mesquite parallels the first floor entry design.
In 2016 the UTSA Department of Physics & Astronomy and San Antonio League of Sidewalk Astronomers, initiated the full disassembly and restoration of the telescope and mount at the direction of Bryan Tobias and fellow associates. The process included sodablasting and powder coating of the main tube and mount as well as delicate cleaning of the glass lens. Additionally, the removal of the original black anodized rear focuser provided for the exposure of the fine polished brass now seen in protected clear coat.
Carter House Observatory
Design: Ethel & Arthur Harris Circa 1925
Aline B. Carter (1892-1972), Poet Laureate of the State of Texas (1947-1949) and astronomy educator, established this small observatory in the middle of downtown San Antonio with the goal of advancing knowledge of the universe for her students. A 4-inch telescope was installed in the observatory in the 1920s. Students at the Witte Museum were introduced to the Moon and stars in the early 1960’s. Carter’s enthusiasm for the universe was a natural adjunct to her religious spirituality, in addition to her humanitarian activities. She believed that God meant for people to appreciate the wonders of his work. This was emulated by the phrase “When I Consider Thy Heavens O Lord” that was engraved on the interior of the Dome.