Alvan Clark

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Alvan Clark
1891 AlvanClark Boston.png
Born (1804-03-08)March 8, 1804
Ashfield, Massachusetts
Died August 19, 1887(1887-08-19) (aged 83)
Nationality American
Fields Astronomy
Notable awards Lalande Prize (1862)

Alvan Clark (March 8, 1804 – August 19, 1887), born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, the descendant of a Cape Cod whaling family of English ancestry,[1] was an American astronomer and telescope maker. He was a portrait painter and engraver (ca.1830s-1850s), and at the age of 40 became involved in telescope making. Using glass blanks made by Chance Brothers of Birmingham and Feil-Mantois of Paris, his firm Alvan Clark & Sons ground lenses for refracting telescopes, including the largest in the world at the time: the 18.5-inch (470 mm) at Dearborn Observatory at the Old University of Chicago (the lens was originally intended for Ole Miss), the two 26-inch (660 mm) telescopes at the United States Naval Observatory and McCormick Observatory, the 30-inch (760 mm) at Pulkovo Observatory (destroyed in the Siege of Leningrad; only the lens survives), the 36-inch (910 mm) telescope at Lick Observatory (still third-largest) and later the 40-inch (1,000 mm) at Yerkes Observatory, which remains the largest successful refracting telescope in the world. One of Clark's sons, Alvan Graham Clark, discovered the dim companion of Sirius. His other son was George Bassett Clark; both sons were partners in the firm.

Two craters bear his name. The Clark on the Moon is jointly named for him and his son, Alvan Graham Clark, and one on Mars is named in his honor.

Alvan Clark Refractor Telescope at Lowell Observatory

See also[edit]

Image gallery[edit]

Portraits by Clark

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • "Recent Deaths. Alvan Clark." Boston Daily Evening Transcript, 19 August 1887.
  • "Autobiography of Alvan Clark." New-England Historical and Genealogical Register 43 (January 1889): 52-58.
  • Warner, Deborah Jean. Alvan Clark & Sons, Artists in Optics. Washington, 1968.

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