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Telescope Control Handset


This object is a small hand-held control panel. It consists of a rectangular face with eight yellow buttons, four of which have convex tops (on the left), four convex tops (on the right). These are described by labels in white writing. Attached to the face there is a handle, out of the bottom of the handle there is a thick cable that has been cut off after 15cm; inside the grey plastic coating (and additional translucent coiled coating around this), nine wires in different coloured insulation are visible.

Attached to the top of the controller there is a hook. Attached to the coiled wire there is a paper label that is held onto string with a wire twist-tie.

Accession Number: 2019.ast.126 (DAA-0051)

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials:

Plastic (Bakelite, Other), Metal (Copper Alloy, Iron Alloy)


Handwritten in pen on the paper label attached to the cable: “Original handset of the 74-inch”

Etched into the control panel face: “CRUBB PARSONS

Other labels on the panel read:

Dimensions (cm): Length = 34, Width = 12, Height = 3.6


This handset was the original interface used to control the 74″ telescope at the David Dunlap Observatory. It could be used to set the right ascension and declination of the telescope.


Good: The cable attached to the handset has been deliberately cut. The buttons on the handset are very dirty, particularly the concave ones. The labels on the handset are worn; in places, the white enameling of the letting has been worn away. There is a blue mark on the left edge of the handset’s face. The surface of the handle and back of the handset is scratched.

Associated Instruments:


Sir Howard Grubb, Parsons and Co. Ltd., Newcastle-on-Tyne, England

Date of Manufacture: c. 1933


This handset was used to control the telescope at the observatory from its opening. At some point, it was replaced and stored at the observatory. This object was likely moved from the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill in 2008, upon its sale. 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:

Historical Notes: