Can you identify this instrument?

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    David Arditti

    From the estate of the late Ian Miller, a stalwart of the VSS, I have been passed a number of instruments for disposal, including this item, which I cannot identify.

    It has a power supply that can be connected to the mains, but on doing so, there is no sign of life. The brass tube on the right would appear to fit a 1.25-inch focuser, and on the left would appear to be an eyepiece. It quite heavy, and in a flight case.

    I suspect it is some sort of visual photometer, long superseded in use.

    Does anybody know what it is, and does anybody want it?

    I am at a loss what to do with it, and may have to throw it away.


    Rob Januszewski

    Hi David,

    Looks like a Zollner type photometer which would fit with Ian being a variable star observer. If I recall correctly the observer adjusts an artificial star brightness to match the star in the FOV.

    Rob Januszewski

    Daryl Dobbs

    Ian built a photoelectric photometer in the early 1980’s but couldn’t get any useful observations from it, I think this could well be it. What I don’t know is why he couldn’t get it to work as he intended, it would be a shame to throw it away if someone could investigate it further. Perhaps Roger Pickard or Gary Poyner could shed some light on to why it didn’t do what he expected it to do?

    He was a lovely chap and the VSS and Swansea AS do miss him.

    Denis Buczynski

    Don’t thow it away just offer it for sale to members, highest bid wins. Even as a curiosity it worth more than putting it in the bin.

    David Arditti

    I’m happy to give it away to a member and even pay carriage out of BAA funds. I’m just trying to establish what interest there is in it.

    James Dawson

    David, is it possible to see some more images of the device to see all sides of it and get any idea how it might have been used. The turning know suggests a focus or a means to act as some kind of comparator.


    Melvyn Joslin

    It  looks very similar to something I have used in the past. When looking through the eyepiece a loop of wire is in focus and when a current is applied it glows red and the more current will turn it to orange then all the way to white hot. When placed in front or next to a heat source which in my case was a small furnace the wire would appear lighter or darker than the heat source. Then when a current was adjusted  you could match the colour perfectly and it would tell you the exact temp of the inside of a hydrogen furnace. This device may have worked in a similar fashion.

    Gary Poyner

    I remember chatting with Ian about his early days with PEP over lunch in some bar in some city years ago, and he did indeed have problems with his home built kit, but it’s been so long ago that we had this conversation that I can’t recall details.  When CCD’s became available, Ian would have packed the PEP away (working or not) and gone with the new tech as soon as he was able, to that I’m sure.

    David.   I’ll be happy to take it off your hands to keep it within the VSS at least.  I’ll drop you an email about it.


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