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Physical Sciences Collection - Surveying and Geodesy

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Geodetic Transit

Catalogue number:

"Fauth & Co. Washington, D.C." and "U. S. C. S. No. 15"

height 15 inches; length 32 inches; width 12.5 inches


"This is an entirely novel form of Transit made by us for the United States Coast Survey, and designed by G. N. Saegmuller, Chief Mechanician, U.S.C.S. It is intended to be set up in the prime vertical, so that the telescope points due east and west. By the use of a prismatic objective, any star that passes the meridian will be reflected and seen in the field...." With these words Fauth & Co. described the Coast Survey Prismatic Transit in 1877. Saegmuller would later acknowledge that Carl August Steinheil in Munich had suggested this design as early as 1849.

This example belonged to the United States Coast Survey. It was made after 1874, when Fauth & Co. began in business, and before 1878, when the Coast Survey became the Coast and Geodetic Survey. With a telescope of 2.5 inches clear aperture, two eyepieces, illuminating and reading lamps, and all accessories, it cost $790.

Ref: Fauth & Co., Catalogue of Astronomical and Surveying Instruments (Washington, D.C., 1877), pp. 22-23.

George N. Saegmuller, Description and Price-List of First-Class Engineering & Astronomical Instruments (Washington, D.C., 1894), p. 72.

C. A. Steinheil, "Ueber einen neuen Meridiankreis," Astronomische Nachrichten 29 (1849): 177-186.

Further Information:

Geodetic Transit