Some OC Astro History

Posted On January 1, 2000

The Original Home of the 8-inch Clark Refractor

Story by Wayne Johnson Photos and captions by Russell Sipe

The Orange County Astronomers (OCA) is involved in a project to refurbish and move an 8-inch Alvan Clark refractor. The telescope was recently removed by several OCA members from its dome on the roof of the Russell Physics Building at Rancho Santiago Community College. The RSCC campus is located near the corner of 17th Street and Bristol Avenue in the town of Santa Ana. When the restoration of the telescope is complete it will be moved along with its dome, although a new building is to be constructed, to an historical society known as the Discovery Museum of Orange County (DMOC).The DMOC is located in Santa Ana near the corner or Harvard and Fairview.

The intention is to make the telescope more available to the public so that people and especially young students who have never had a chance to look through a telescope at some of the brighter objects in the sky will have a chance to do so.

East end of Bishop Estate
Old Bishop Estate as seen from east end entrance. Arrow points out original location of observatory. The observatory was built over a two stall garage (garage door visible behind car). Later owners removed the observatory and added the second floor living quarters.

The telescope was originally owned by a lawyer named Clyde Bishop who had an observatory built for it in his backyard in the Lemon Heights area. We were invited by the current owner to view some of the original foundation and record its remains for posterity. The new owner is in the process of demolishing and restoring the home to bring the property back to its original state and unfortunately the observatory is not viewed as part of the decor. There had been about a half dozen subsequent owners of the Bishop estate and each person placed his own trademark on the place. The new owner has been searching the libraries and city hall to find pictures of the place in its original condition and has had a limited amount of success.

There will be a more complete story on the history of the telescope and the personalities involved with it in upcoming issues of the OCA's newsletter and this webpage.