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Quartz Optical Fibres


This is a bundle of a large number of thin hollow fibres, likely of quartz. Each of these is 46 centimeters long. They are wrapped in plastic, taped up, and packaged in a purpose-built wooden shipping box. The “box” consists of a piece of wood with a space cut out of it that exactly fits the bundle of fibres. At one end, this space is wider and this end of the package is open, with a piece of paper put over the end of the fibres. Each end of the wooden block has been blocked off by rough pieces of wood screwed on to the centre block.

Accession Number: 2018.ast.106 (DAA-0015)

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials:

Wood, Quartz, Plastic, Metal: Iron Alloy

Markings: None.

Dimensions (cm): Length = 49.5, Width = 9, Height = 5.2


These quartz fibres seem to have been manufactured to permit multiple object spectroscopy, in which the spectra of multiple celestial objects could be captured or viewed separately, but simultaneously. It is unclear if they were ever used.


Excellent. The fibres are still in their original packaging and do not appear to have been used. The piece of paper used to cover the open end of the plastic package is fragile and yellowing.

Associated Instruments:


Thermal American Fused Quartz Company or General Electric Lamp Glass Department

Date of Manufacture: 1966


These fibres were probably shipped by the to the Dunlap Observatory in 1966. They were moved from the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill in 2009, upon the sale of the observatory. It was stored at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics until 2017, when it was moved to a new storage location in McLennan Physical Laboratories.

Additional Information and References:

Two letters in the collection appear to be related to this package. One, from Donald A. MacRae to the Thermal Americal Fused Quartz Co., inquires if the company can provide quartz fibres. Another includes a response from the company to MacRae and an attached shipping document (from General Electric Lamp Glass Department) shipping fibres matching the object description to Mr. S. (Sidney) Van Den Bergh.

Historical Notes: