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UC Alumnus helps save historic quake-damaged telscope

UC Alumnus helps save historic quake-damaged Christchurch telescope

The University of Canterbury has announced that the quake-damaged Townsend Telescope will again search the starry skies above the Arts Centre in central Christchurch, thanks largely to the generosity of an American alumnus.

UC Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr has announced that the telescope will be renamed the Townsend Teece Telescope.

Based in Berkeley, California, noted economist and UC Alumnus Professor David Teece, his wife Leigh Teece and their family have donated funds to restore the historic telescope so that people will once again be able to view the stars above Christchurch city. For more than a century, the telescope was available to the public on clear Friday nights and introduced people of all ages to Astronomy as a subject.

“We like the fact that on Friday nights, and perhaps Saturdays too, it will bring young kids to the old gothic tower to view the heavens,” Prof Teece said. The Teece family was also pleased to be part of the Christchurch and University rebuild.

“We are thrilled and grateful for the support that the Teeces and their family have given the University of Canterbury over many years,” Dr Carr said. “We hope to continue this close relationship and look forward to seeing the telescope restored to its rightful place in the University’s historic base in the central city.”

Prof Teece studied at the old University town site and received an Honorary Doctorate from UC in 2007.

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About the Townsend Teece Telescope

A rare scientific instrument, the telescope was made in 1864 by Thomas Cooke and Sons of York, England. It was gifted to Canterbury College in 1891 and has been housed in the Arts Centre Observatory Tower since it was opened in 1896.

Despite being damaged when the Arts Centre Observatory Tower collapsed in the February 2011 earthquake, the telescope’s six-inch refractor lens miraculously survived intact.

The Townsend Teece Telescope will be restored over the next three years by Graeme Kershaw, Senior Technician in the UC Physics and Astronomy Department. The telescope will then be reinstalled in the Observatory Tower after it is rebuilt.

The telescope campaign fund remains open to donations to support education programmes and future maintenance at


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