Picture Number:10323764 Credit:Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
Sir George Shuckburgh commissioned this telescope from the famous London instrument maker Jesse Ramsden in 1781, but it was only completed in 1791. It is the world's first example of a large equatorial telescope, namely an instrument mounted for making accurate measurement of the position of the stars and planets. The telescope has a lens of 4.1-inch aperture and is carried on an equatorial mounting made of tapered brass tubes. After Shuckburgh's death in 1804, his heir donated the telescope in 1811 to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Though designed for angular measurement, the mounting of the telescope proved too flimsy and was little used despite later improvements. The instrument was finally dismantled and donated to the Science Museum in 1929.