- The earliest evidence of this instrument comes from Andrew Ellicott, who in 1796 used "a small zenith sector of 20 inches radius" to determine the latitude of the Erie, Pennsylvania (the former French landing at Presqu'Isle). Ellicott used this instrument again in 1796-1800 when he surveyed the southern boundary of the United States. He described it as a "zenith sector of 19 inches radius to be used when the utmost accuracy was not necessary, and where the transportation of the large one could not be effected without great expense and difficulty."
- Ellicott took this instrument with him to West Point, when he became professor of mathematics at the U.S. Military Academy in 1813. A descendant, Andrew Ellicott Douglass, deposited it with the Smithsonian Institution in 1898.
- Ref: Andrew Ellicott, "Observations made on the Old French Landing at Presqu'Isle, to determine the Latitude of the Town of Erie," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 4 (1799): 231-232.
- Andrew Ellicott, "Astronomical and Thermometrical Observations, made on the Boundary between the United States and his Catholic Majesty," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 5 (1802): 204.
- Currently not on view
- Object Name
- zenith telescope
- telescope: 19 in; 48.26 cm
- overall: 29 3/4 in x 9 in x 17 1/8 in; 75.565 cm x 22.86 cm x 43.4975 cm
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.