Audio description content. Set on a thick metal pedestal around two metres tall is a large telescope. It is 3 metres from tip to tip, painted glossy black, with bright bronze fittings. It would be necessary to stand on a step ladder to comfortably use the eyepiece. Tucked up under the length of the telescope and attached to it at the midpoint, are three wooden poles with egg shaped knobs at the near ends, appearing to function as steering poles to enable the users manipulate the angle of the telescope.

Panel text content. The Cooke Telescope had been in residence at the Nelson Observatory until recently when it was replaced with a new state of the art telescope. Thomas Cawthron, the businessman and philanthropist responsible for the establishment of the Cawthron institute was passionate about physics and astronomy. In the early 1880s Thomas Cawthron and Arthur Atkinson imported this telescope, which was based at Fairfield House until the turn of the century. Since then, the telescope has been housed in several locations, including Alton Street, Emano Street, and Pipers Park, before being moved to the Cawthron Atkinson Observatory at Clifton Terrace School. The Cawthron Institute, Nelson Science Society and the Nelson Museum are working together to dismantle and store the Cooke telescope until a suitable viewing space is available at Cawthron Institute.

Audio description content. On the wall beyond the telescope are three black and white photographs and a wall display. The photographs show: A portrait of Arthur Atkinson. A single-room, octagonal wooden building with a pointed roof. Sections of the roof have open shutters, and a telescope can be seen through the gap. A view of Fairfield house with [to be determined] a group of people gathered on the steps. Next image group, a large colour photograph contains three superimposed images. A time lapse photograph of the movement of the stars, shown as short dashes of light in rotation around the centre of the photograph. An older man, smiling, bundled up in a thick jersey and woollen hat. A large telescope pointing directly upwards.

Panel text content. Arthur Atkinson had little formal schooling but made up for this with a deep curiousty and love of learning. He migrated from England to new Zealand with his brother, his sister and her husband’s family in 1852. They first settled near new Plymouth. Arthur studied maori language and tikanga but also fought for the government in the taranaki wars. Arthur moved to nelson in 1868 and built Fairfield house in the 1880s. The house included a distinctive tower, built so Arthur could observe the heavens through his telescope. The Atkinson family were free thinkers, supporting education and votes for women.

Panel text content. Nelson man Albert Jones was an amateur observer of the universe who discovered two comets and one supernova (a super-powerful explosion of a star). He built his first telescope in the 1940s from a mail order kit and a tube from his mother’s vacuum cleaner. Albert spotted his first comet in 1946 and his second in 2000. He is still the oldest person in the world to discover a comet.

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