George Ball

(1910-2007) A well-known Victoria Centre member with a gift for design and fabrication. Received the Service Award in 1968.

GEORGE BALL (1910-2007) is well-known in the Society for the superb instruments he designs and fabricates in his basement workshop. Usually these incorporate some unique features. His observatory, outside his Victoria home is a case in point Instead of having the usual rotating dome, his entire observatory rotates. Instead of having wheels running on a circular track, here the track is above the wheels to prevent dirt from falling onto the rails. To form the circular track, Ball built a tool specially for the purpose. Inside the observatory is a 30-cm Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope built entirely by Ball including right ascension and declination scales with verniers, engraved and nickel-plated by himself. The telescope can be smoothly moved along either axis by variable-speed motors easily controlled from Bali's comfortable observing chair complete with a crank by which he can raise or lower himself at the eyepiece. Other equipment he has designed and built include a mirror grinding machine, an aluminizing apparatus, a lensless Schmidt camera, a cold camera and special silicon rubber molds to make pitch laps used in mirror polishing.

Obviously, all this has required a great deal of talent and time, but George Ball has never shirked from helping others. A year after joining the Victoria Centre in 1955, he was on the Council and in the years since has been National Council Representative, Vice-President of the Centre, Director of Telescopes and Observations, and National Co-ordinator for Instrumentation. He has used his own equipment to aluminize many mirrors for others and supervised and instructed dozens of members in the construction of their own telescopes. For years he has hosted public observing nights, arranged for displays at hobby shows and assisted at the DAO on public evenings. He received the Service Award in 1968.

Peter Broughton (from Looking Up)

Further Reading

  • Victoria Centre Condolences page
  • R.A.S.C. Papers- An Amateur's Aluminizing Apparatus, JRASC (December 1962)
  • International Union of Amateur Astronomers, Fourth General Assembly, NNL (June 1979) pp. L42-44
  • The Double Star Sirius, NNL (August 1979) pp. L53-54
  • A Visit to the Ball Observatory, NNL (June 1986), pp. L35-36
  • Moving George Ball's Observatory, Victoria Centre (2004)

Ball, George