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Unidentified · Astronomy

This is a pink and brown cardboard box that contains two identical small metal pieces. Each piece consists of a fine wire bent into a s-shape, with a ball of metal attached to the top line of the ‘s’. The ‘s’ is attached to a wider metal rod 1.4cm long. On one of the metal pieces, the ‘s’ appears bent.

The box does not appear to have been the original storage location for these pieces. Brown paper tape criss-crosses the box, indicating it once held it closed. This has been torn when the box was re-opened.

Accession Number: 2018.ast.55

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials:

Cardboard, Metal: Iron Alloy, Other Alloy.


Dimensions (cm):

Box: Height = 3.6, Width = 6.2, Length = 9; Metal Pieces: Height = 0.1, Width = 0.8, Length = 2.

Function: Unknown.


Very Good: The box is in good condition. On one of the small pieces, the metal ‘s’ has been bent.

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: Unknown

Date of Manufacture: 20th Century


This object was likely moved from the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill in 2008, 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:

Historical Notes:



Unidentified · Astronomy

Bunsen Photometer
This Bunsen Photometer (, once unidentified, has now been recognised and identified.

While most objects in the collection can be identified through local expertise or research, some artifacts resist identification. During the course of the creation of this online catalogue, an “Unidentified” tag was created in order to group these items in the hopes that they might be recognised–many are, including the Bunsen photometer pictured on the right. In 2013, a workshop, “Unknown”, was held in to allow interested researchers and experts to examine instruments in an attempt to identify items; this was highly successful.

The “Unidentified” objects are not a separate collection. When accessioned, items are catalogued by collection according to their source, usually a known department or–in the cases this is unknown or inapplicable–the IHPST designation. Nor are the items necessarily entirely mysterious–some items are tagged when they are only partially understood, such as this mathematical model.

If you have a correction, suggestion, or insight to offer about any object you find in the catalogue please share it with us at Like the scientific enterprise that this project seeks to document, we see the cataloguing process as a fundamentally open and collaborative effort.