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South Carolina State Museum Acquires World Class Telescope Collection

The stunning collection of historic telescopes donated to the South Carolina State Museum by collector Robert Ariail of Columbia is more than merely a group of scopes gathered randomly over a lifetime, according to Director of Education Tom Falvey.

“Astronomy experts say these telescopes represent the finest collection of 19th- and 20th-century American-made telescopes in the United States,” said Falvey. The firms include Alvan Clark & Sons (the world’s finest lens makers), Henry Fitz, his son Harry Fitz, John Byrne and John Brashear. The works of numerous European craftsmen, including the famous Zeiss company, also are included in the collection.

The 200-plus-piece collection of telescopes and astronomy equipment joins more than 5200 rare books and star atlases, scientific journals, rare offprints and manuscripts housed at the University of South Carolina to comprise the Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy.

The two institutions will operate a joint Web site that will highlight the collection. It can be found at or at

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