Fresnel lens in Old Point Loma Lighthouse museum.

Looking up at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in Cabrillo National Monument.
Looking up at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in Cabrillo National Monument.

Everyone likes to explore the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. You can climb up the winding staircase and peer into several interesting rooms where the lighthouse keeper and his family lived. But the small museum in the nearby assistant keeper’s quarters contains the true marvels of science and art. Come inside and let us have a quick look!

The assistant keeper's quarters next to the lighthouse today contains a small museum.
The assistant keeper’s quarters next to the lighthouse today contains a small museum.
Sign outside lighthouse shows huge Fresnel lens which guided ships with focused light 400 feet above sea level.
Sign outside lighthouse shows huge Fresnel lens which guided ships with focused light 400 feet above sea level.
The heart of a lighthouse is the lens and lamp. 19th century lenses are works of art made of polished brass and glass.
Sign at entrance to museum.  The heart of a lighthouse is the lens and lamp. 19th century lenses are works of art made of polished brass and glass.

The highly polished Fresnel lenses utilized by lighthouses are beautiful objects. They refract and reflect light, creating prismatic colors when viewed from certain angles. It’s almost a miracle that a small flame in a lamp can be magnified to the extent that ships far out at sea can easily see it and be guided to safety. Light intensified by lenses in this museum could be seen 18 to 24 miles away!

This 3rd Order Fresnel lens was used by the New Point Loma Lighthouse, built in 1891 down by the water.
This 3rd Order Fresnel lens was used by the New Point Loma Lighthouse, built in 1891 down by the water.
An optical wonder, this huge lens is an amazing, highly polished light bender.
An optical wonder, this huge lens is an amazing, highly polished light bender.
Diagram shows how a complex Fresnel lens functions.
Diagram shows how a complex Fresnel lens functions.
The base of the heavy Fresnel lens with chariot wheels visible.
The base of the heavy Fresnel lens with chariot wheels visible.
There are different orders of size, as illustrated in this display.
There are different orders of size, as illustrated in this display.
Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788-1827) was an accomplished engineer and scientist. Fresnel lenses are used in many modern applications today.
Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788-1827) was an accomplished engineer and scientist. Fresnel lenses are used in many modern applications today.
Small museum by Old Point Loma Lighthouse contains various very cool exhibits.
Small museum by Old Point Loma Lighthouse contains various very cool exhibits.
This small 5th Order lens lighted the Ballast Point Lighthouse from 1890 to 1960.
This small 5th Order lens lighted the Ballast Point Lighthouse from 1890 to 1960.
Log book of daily expenditures for oil, wicks and chimneys.
Log book of daily expenditures for oil, wicks and chimneys.
This clockwork of gears slowly turned the light above.
This clockwork of gears slowly turned the light above.
The keeper's service box contained cleaning supplies and delicate tools for maintaining the lamp.
The keeper’s service box contained cleaning supplies and delicate tools for maintaining the lamp.
The Coast Guard removed this large Fresnel lens from the New Point Loma Lighthouse in 2002.
The Coast Guard removed this large Fresnel lens from the New Point Loma Lighthouse in 2002.
Looking at the iconic Old Point Loma Lighthouse and small museum beside it.
Looking at the iconic Old Point Loma Lighthouse and small museum beside it.

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Published by

Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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