Further Resources about Lord Rosse’s Monster Telescopes

I made an audio-narrated, animated, musical flying carpet tour of Lord Rosse’s monster telescopes in Second Life (SL).

Here are some other sources of information about Lord Rosse’s Monster Telescopes.

The Birr Castle Website

Birr Castle is where Lord Rosse lived. The castle is still in use today, being the home of the current Earl of Rosse. They’ve refurbished the Leviathan and also have a science center on the grounds. Parsonstown is now known as Birr.

If you’re in central Ireland and want to visit Birr Castle and the reconstructed Leviathan of Parsonstown (telescope), then you should also check out the other things to do in the area. There’s a Science Center near the castle. If you enjoy gardens, you must also visit the Gardens at Birr, which have some 50 hectares of flowers, rare trees and more. The castle itself also has public events such as musical performances. A good place to find out about all that and more is the website of Lawrencetown Village, East Galway, Ireland (click on Attractions).

Hoskin, Michael, “The Leviathan of Parsonstown: Ambitions and Achievements,” Journal for the History of Astronomy, Vol. 33, Part 1, February 2002, No. 110, pages 57-70.

A great reference if you want more depth on the main stories told during the tour in SL.

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronmical Society, Vol. XXIX, pages 123-30. Strangeways & Walden, London, 1869.  Archived in the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS).

A concise biography of Lord Rosse.

Book:  The Astronomy of Birr Castle, originally published by The Telescope Trust in 1971, and reprinted in June 1981, by The Tribune Printing and Publishing Group, Birr.

Tubridy, Michael. Reconstruction of the Rosse Six Foot Telescope, Birr Castle, 1998.

Tubridy was the Chief Engineer in charge of reconstructing the Leviathan.

Woods, Thomas.  The Monster Telescopes, Erected by the Earl of Rosse, Parsonstown, with an Account of the Manufacutre of the Specula, and Full Descriptions of all the Machinery Connected with These Instruments, Sheilds and Son, Parsonstown, 1845.

Second Edition

Third Edition

Probably the most detailed account of how the telescopes (including the mirrors) were manufactured.  This book is remarkable in that previous giant-telescope-makers didn’t write anything about how they did it.

Observations of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars Made With the Six-foot and Three-foot Reflectors at Birr Castle From the Year 1848 up to the Year 1878, Scientific Transactions of the Royal Dublin Society, Vol. II, 1878

Parsons, Charles. The Scientific Papers of William Parsons; Third Earl of Rosse , 1800-1867, Percy Lund, Humphries & Co., London, 1926.

McKenna-Lawlor, Susan M.P. Whatever Shines Should be Observed, Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands, 2003.

Chapter 1 is about Mary Countess of Rosse, who financed the telescopes.

The BBC Radio science show “The Material World” visited the restored Leviathan in December 2006.  Host Quentin Cooper interviewed the Chief Guide John Joyce and the Chief Engineer in charge of the restoration, Michael Tubridy.  Listen here.

Some Encyclopedia Articles:

Asimov, Isaac. Asimov’s Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, Second Revised Edition, Doubleday & Company, New York, 1982.

More Pictures and Images:


This website has many images of the Third Earl of Rosse and his telescopes.  It also has a list of objects he discovered using the Leviathan.

Image of the four ton mirror being delivered to the Science Museum in 1914.

This image conveys the size of the mirror better than any other image I’ve seen.

Images of the Birr Telescope (modern name) on Flickr.