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Telescope Admired from Afar Is at Last Viewed Close Up

from the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Registration Required)

WILLIAMS BAY, WIS. - Late one sunny afternoon in April, Kyle Cudworth, director of Yerkes Observatory complex, opened up the door leading into the main observatory.

Shuffling behind Cudworth, 86-year-old Rolf Riekher ... smiled with unalloyed delight. His eyes darted around the circular room, a vast space - and then they fixed on the massive, dark metal pier at the room's center. Looking up, he saw it: a slender, gracefully canted 63-foot-long white tube.

Built in 1897, at the apex of the Victorian age, this mighty telescope was the international space station of its time. It remains the world's biggest refracting telescope. ... What delayed the prominent telescope expert from seeing the important telescope was Riekher's unusual, isolated life and career in Germany under the Nazi and East German Communist regimes.

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