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Thomas Short


? - 1788

Optician and astronomer. Brother of astronomer and telescope-maker James Short (1710 - 68). He became an optician in Leith. When his brother died, Short went to London and retrieved his brother's twelve-foot reflecting telescope and other instruments. Short founded the first observatory on Calton Hill in 1776, with the aim of exhibiting these instruments to the public for a small fee. Short obtained money for his venture from the City and from a fund which had been set up many years previously by Professor Colin Maclaurin (1698 - 1746). He was able to secure a 99 year lease on half an acre of land on Calton Hill and commissioned James Craig (1744-95) to build what is now referred to Old Observatory House as a base for his enterprise and well as a home for his family.

His daughter, Maria Theresa Short created the Camera Obscura in Edinburgh in 1853


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