Orange Twp. Bicentennial Marker placed


By Kayla Hawthorne - Special to the Sentinel



Bicentennial Ambassadors Mattison Finlaw, Brielle Newland and Cooper Schagel are pictured at the Bicentennial Marker unveiling in Orange Township.

Bicentennial Ambassadors Mattison Finlaw, Brielle Newland and Cooper Schagel are pictured at the Bicentennial Marker unveiling in Orange Township.


Kayla Hawthorne | Photo

The 10th Bicentennial Marker commemorates the life of George Willis Ritchey.


Kayla Hawthorne | Photo

ORANGE TWP. — The tenth Bicentennial Marker, this one honoring George Willis Ritchey, was unveiled Wednesday night at the Orange Township garage.

Ritchey was born in Tuppers Plains in 1864 and became an astrophysicist, telescope designer and photographer.

Ritchey’s father and grandfather, who immigrated to America from Ireland in 1841, were cabinet designers and founded a furniture company in Pomeroy, according to Bicentennial Ambassador Brielle Newland.

“Initially, Ritchey followed his father and grandfather into the cabinet making business, but soon enrolled in the University of Cincinnati where he took two years. One year was for drawing and design and the other one was for science,” Newland said. “In his college years, he studied and was an assistant at the Cincinnati Observatory, where he studied the writings of pioneer makers and the reflecting telescopes. He began making his own telescopes.”

The marker states “Some of his telescopes were the largest in the world at the time they were built. Telescopes designed by Ritchey are still in use across the world today. In fact, the Hubble Telescope contains optical components designed by him.”

After Ritchey married in 1888, he and his wife moved to Chicago where he taught himself all there was to know about shaping telescope mirrors.

“While he was in Chigago in 1890, Ritchey met George Hale, a graduate of M.I.T. that came from a wealthy family that had a private observatory at his family’s mansion,” said Ambassador Cooper Schagel. “Ritchey and Hale were in agreement that the next generation of giant telescopes would be reflectors, a design that used a large mirror instead of older designs that used refractors with the purpose of collecting light.”

Ritchey believed he could make bigger and better telescope mirrors than anyone had before him.

“Together, Hale and Ritchey received funding for a new observatory on Mount Wilson in California,” Schagel said. “The duo manufactured both 60 inch and 100 inch refractor telescopes. However, they had a falling out before Ritchey was able to use the 100 inch reflector telescope to take pictures of space. He left the mountain observatory and his partner to never return.”

Ritchey’s legacy continues today and one of his telescopes now rests in the Smithsonian.

Ritchey was arguably one of the greatest astrological photographers in history. He used his telescopes as lenses to take better celestial photos.

“He took the best photographs of stars, nebulae and galaxies,” said Ambassador Mattison Finlaw. “He captured the beauty of space and that is what drove him toward his success.”

Ritchey has craters on both the Moon and Mars named in his honor.

The last two Bicentennial Markers will be placed on the third Thursday of November and December with locations in Chester and Rutland Townships to be announced at a later date.

Bicentennial Ambassadors Mattison Finlaw, Brielle Newland and Cooper Schagel are pictured at the Bicentennial Marker unveiling in Orange Township.
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2019/10/web1_10.18-Bicentennial-1.jpgBicentennial Ambassadors Mattison Finlaw, Brielle Newland and Cooper Schagel are pictured at the Bicentennial Marker unveiling in Orange Township. Kayla Hawthorne | Photo

The 10th Bicentennial Marker commemorates the life of George Willis Ritchey.
https://www.mydailysentinel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/14/2019/10/web1_10.18-Bicentennial-2.jpgThe 10th Bicentennial Marker commemorates the life of George Willis Ritchey. Kayla Hawthorne | Photo

By Kayla Hawthorne

Special to the Sentinel

Kayla Hawthorne is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.

Kayla Hawthorne is a freelance writer for The Daily Sentinel.