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Italian Heliostat/Colimator Solar Microscope

This unsigned Italian solar microscope was made sometime in the early nineteenth century. The model illustrated below was redrawn from photographs of the original microscope, which was photographed and described by Gerard Turner in his excellent catalog of microscopes from the Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy.

The body tube and mirror are secured to a brass plate that is fitted over the aperture in a window shutter with the mirror positioned outside to capture light rays from the sun. Covered with dyed green leather decorated in gold tooling, the body tube is fashioned from thin metal and lined with brown paper. The microscope is not equipped with a condenser lens and was probably not designed to accept one. A cap is positioned at the end of the tube to provide a narrow beam of light for experiments. Described as a heliostat in Maria L. Righini Bonelli's book Il Museo di Storia della Scienza a Firenze, the instrument is without a mechanism to follow the sun's movement.


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