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#6160156 Show me a Selfie with your gear

Posted by jrbarnett on 12 August 2014 - 09:46 PM


  • Paul G, paul hart, NHRob and 16 others like this

#6147222 Yeah, it's slow. Yeah, we're missing stuff... Please read...

Posted by Tom T on 04 August 2014 - 05:25 PM

Just an FYI - yup, you may have noticed (by the fact that you are reading this post), that we've reopened the forums.
Well, we have. 
We aren't done with the conversion yet.  Until we do finish, please expect very slow performance, missing and/or broken links, and missing content on all portions of the site.  Please rest assured that our faithful programmer is hard at work trying to get all this fixed.  Be patient with him (and us) and this place will (hopefully) be humming right along in a few days.
Thank you!
Tom T

  • desertstars, Greg K., Lew Zealand and 14 others like this

#6216170 Your First Telescope, You still Have it? Your Story.

Posted by terraclarke on 19 September 2014 - 10:10 AM

My first real telescope was a Japanese-made (APL) Mayflower 60mm x 700mm yoke and clamshell mounted alt-az refractor. I got it for in October of 1965 for my 16th birthday. I had gotten interested in astronomy when I was 14 when one summer evening we went to visit some family friends who lived in the mountains of Southern California. We were there for dinner and their son, who was about my age had a 3" Edmund reflector. (The Space Conqueror I believe). After dinner, we went outside to look through it while the parents visited. From that point  on I was hooked. I got a copy of the little Golden Book, The Stars, by Zim (How many of us started with that?!), and by October, I had talked them into getting me a pair of binoculars, some Japanese 8x40s that my dad ordered from his Herter's catalog. I also got a copy of The Stars by Rey and I was off and running. At Christmas I got the Peterson Guide and by the following birthday, I got the Mayflower. I had wanted a Unitron Model 114 but that was out of the question, the Mayflower cost about half as much at Fedco, our "big box" store back then. I was not disappointed! The first thing I looked at was Saturn! Then I split the double double as Lyra was going down. Then I stayed up late to see the Orion Nebula and the Trapezium! Zowwie! I was in love!


I will have had my little Mayflower 49 years next month! I have had it all of these years. About 10 years ago, (I had a 4" Vixen on a GP by then and a 3" Stellarvue on a TV mount and had sort of moved on) so I loaned to some good friends. Then I moved out of town and I  thought it was gone for good. But two years ago the friend that I had loaned it to, called and said it was unused and in her attic. I asked her if I could swing by her place the next time I was in town and get it, and she said sure. So it came home. It was kind of a sad sight. The yoke mount gearing, which had been showing its age for some time, and broken down. The cast gear housings had actually broken. The finder was gone, so was the accessory tray. But the optics were still perfect, the eyepieces still present, the box and tube in good shape. So I got Danny Crawford to make me some rings and a mounting plate for it (one of Crawmach's last), and I bought a Unitron alt-az mount, tripod and spreader from a friend and member on here. I also bought a little GEM that fit perfect on the original legs from another friend here and made a chain spreader. I also put a vixen finder dovetail on it and a 6 x 30 finder that was way better than the original, and I added a 1.25" Vixen V.B.


Over the years, that was often my one and only telescope. In fact up until around 15 years ago, the only telescopes I had were the Mayflower, the 6" RFT I built a year of so after getting the Mayflower (and still have), and those old binoculars (one of my daughters has those now). The Mayflower always stayed in its box when it wasn't being used. (The box has been refinished once or twice.) So it stayed in good use and was always ready to go, and go it did. It was the family scope, the travel scope, the grab and go scope for over 30 years. With it we saw solar and lunar eclipses, comets, the transit of Mercury, and the S-L impact scars on Jupiter. I indoctrinated by two girls with that telescope to the point that one of them, a film maker, has made an astronomy themed Sci-Fi short film and the other one named her son Orion. Oh the memories that scope holds!


I lost my parents in 2000 and 2001. That Mayflower is especially important to me for that reason. Sometimes, it just takes a while to realize the true worth of things, but as my mentor in grad school used to tell me, "to soon we get old, to late we get smart." I once threw it over (euphamism) for a 4" fluorite Vixen, which is long gone. If someone now offered me the Vixen back in return for the Mayflower, I'd have to say no. It's gone through some changes, but it is still basically the same little scope with that wonderful APL objective that I have seen so many wonderful things with over the years. It's more than a telescope. It's a talisman and a time machine. I will always remember my mom coming out from the kitchen to the backyard to take a look at what ever I was looking at. I can use it now and see her standing right beside me. It will be the last scope I ever let go. Yes, I thought I had lost it but got it a few years ago. But I never realized just how valuable it was to me. I do now, and when I got it back, I vowed it will never again leave me.


PS- I also saw my first comet with this telescope: Comet Ikeya-Seki in December of 1965!

  • Starlon, orion61, roscoe and 9 others like this

#6221082 A conversation with Larry Hardin

Posted by turk123 on 22 September 2014 - 03:37 PM

I just got off the phone with Larry Hardin.  I had written him to see if he was going to renew the  trademark "Astrola".  He called me this afternoon.


Larry is an interesting guy.  He is 71 and head of Hardin Optical company who mostly deals with government and commercial account. As a young man he worked for Cave Optical Company.   We hit it off great.  I had him go to the Cave website to look at some of the historical documents and pictures.  He was rattling off all the name of the men working with Alika Herring and even pointed to a picture of himself in one of the catalogs.


He is a wealth of information for this period of time.  Here is an example. Something I'm ask  all the time:  "Was that Tom Cave's corvette parked outside the Cave store?"  "It is not Tom's Corvette.  He had a Chevy Nomad." Larry said.  "The corvette belonged to Bob Crawford the picture on your website to the left of Herring.  The one where he is facing away from the camera."  Case closed.  :-)


Larry is going to renew the trademark.  I have nothing to fear with the website and now it will be protected from others who may not respect it.  Larry Hardin agreed.  "I just might make a new line of classic telescopes one day." He said.  I've heard that he said this to others before, but never followed through.  I think he has good feelings about the name.  He can keep it a bit longer now.


I ask if he would do an article for the Cave-astrola website.  He said he liked that idea.  When pressed with doing so we kind of "compromised" with me doing several long recorded interviews with him.  He was going to talk to his wife about this.  He said it would be fun to recreate with her the days of him going to work and what all the "guys" did on a day to day basis.  Everything from grinding mirrors, figuring the optics and even the morning coffee breaks with Alika showing off his drawings of the moon.  I told him that would be wonderful.


Hardin still has Evered Kreimer's 12.5" telescope and promised to take pictures of Evered's revolutionary liquid cooled Camera for me. I have an upcoming article on Kreimer along with Jason's article.   Hardin owns several Cave telescopes, 6" - 10" and the 12.5".  They have not been restored.


Larry talked of Parks showing up at the store to deliver tubes to Tom Cave.  He said there was always a lot going on.  


So in the interest of preserving the history, I guess I have another project.





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  • Jon Isaacs, bob midiri, tim53 and 8 others like this

#6204098 Nice Telescope Drawing

Posted by pbealo on 10 September 2014 - 09:28 PM

Just picked this beauty up. This original pencil drawing by Russell W Porter will go together with the matching copper printing plate I have of it that was used to print a page in ATM Book 1.


There's even a handwritten Porter note on the back about how it's going to Ingalls.


I like how the arm extends out of the frame, something the book cut off.


Peter B.


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  • rnabholz, xavier, A6Q6 and 8 others like this

#6194087 Post a picture of your refractors (PART 7)

Posted by opticsguy on 03 September 2014 - 11:24 PM

This is my recently completed 10" on Display at TMSP. 2014

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  • Lew Zealand, ngc2289, rushintuit and 8 others like this

#6175125 A Beginner's Guide To Fall Skies of 2014

Posted by DSObserver2000 on 22 August 2014 - 07:42 PM

September-November marks the start of a new bunch of constellations and events, here is a beginners guide to some of mother nature's goodies. :) All dates are in Central Standard Time



For the friends of the nearest rock in the sky:


First Quarter on September 2nd.

Full Moon on September 9th. 

Last Quarter on September 16th. 

New Moon on September 24th. 

First Quarter on October 1st. 

Full Moon on October 8th. 

Total Lunar Eclipse on October 8th. http://en.wikipedia....4_lunar_eclipse

Last Quarter on October 15th.

New Moon on October 23rd.

First Quarter on October 31st. 

Full Moon on November 6th. 

Last Quarter on November 14th. 

New Moon on November 22nd. 

First Quarter on November 29th. 



For those who enjoy the nearest star:


Partial Solar Eclipse on October 23rd. http://en.wikipedia....ctober_23,_2014




For planetary people:


Uranus at opposition on October 7th



For falling rock fanatics:


Comet Jacques (c/2014 e2) visible through a small telescope into September

Draconids peak on October 8th with a variable ZHR

Southern Taurids peak on October 9th with a ZHR of 5

Orionids peak on October 22nd with a ZHR of 20

Northern Taurids peak on November 13th with a ZHR of 5

Leonids peak on November 18th with a ZHR of 15



For deep sky hunters:


Open Clusters:

M25 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_25

M23 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_23

M18 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_18

IC 4665 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IC_4665

M29 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_29

M39 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_39

Double Cluster http://en.wikipedia..../Double_Cluster

M52 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_52

M11 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_11

M34 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_34

M45 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_45

M36 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_36

M37 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_37

M38 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_38

Hyades http://en.wikipedia...._(star_cluster)


Globular Clusters:

M2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messier_2

M15 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_15

M22 http://en.wikipedia....iki/Messier_22 

M28 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_28

M13 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_13

M92 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_92



M31 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_31

M32 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_32

M110 http://en.wikipedia....iki/Messier_110

M33 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_33

M77 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_77

NGC 253 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGC_253


Diffuse Nebulae

M17 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_17

M8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messier_8

M20 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_20

NGC 7000 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGC_7000


Planetary Nebulae

M27 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_27

M57 http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Messier_57


Most of the deep sky objects are visible in binoculars, all of them are visible in even the smallest telescopes under dark skies. It took me all day to make this. I probably missed a few deep sky objects but this is plenty enough to get a beginner going. :)

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#6245758 This Morning's Total Lunar Eclipse

Posted by Jon Isaacs on 08 October 2014 - 07:39 AM

It was well placed in the sky here in San Diego and it was clear which is somewhat unusual for the early morning near the coast.   I took the photo with my cell phone looking through my 10 inch Dob.  It is basically unprocessed except for cropping and reduction in resolution.



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#6236428 What do people see in Schmidt-Cassegrains?

Posted by jhayes_tucson on 02 October 2014 - 11:26 AM

Upper:  DOB

Lower:  SCT


Contest over.








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  • Ron Luxemburg, A6Q6, terraclarke and 7 others like this

#6216770 Unitron 114; Some Surprises!

Posted by starman876 on 19 September 2014 - 05:04 PM

Never met an astronomer who did not like a Unitron, or a questar, or a astro physics, or a TMB, or a Royal astro, or a Sears, or a JC penneys, well you get the picture.  We all like scopes, really does not matter who made it.  Some are good, some are great and some just are not worth the effort to set up, but is sure is great  to have just one or a few.  You got one you love it.  Kind of like that car that gets you from point A to B.  If it gets you there you love it.  Scopes are the same.  You might have to strain your eyes a bit, but you love it when you get to see something.  We are a special breed of people.  Even after we have seen the same thing a hundred times we still set up to look at it again and again and again.   We use different scopes like artist use different paint brushes. Each scope does something special that we love.   That is what is so neat about classic scopes.  The quality of the optics in those days in most cases were really good and we get to see things with good optics, really neat things.  You got to love this hobby, I know I do.

  • Starlon, albert1, Mister T. and 7 others like this

#6215726 Started my own Club

Posted by youngamateur42 on 18 September 2014 - 11:38 PM

Started my very own astronomy club at my high school, San Dimas High.  Last year I brought my RV-6 in to science class and spoke for the class.  This year I wanted to do something big, like really big.  So, what bigger and better scope to bring than the Meade 12.5"? Anyway, I am the president and founder of the club, which goes on my permanent record.  It doesn't hurt for college  :) anyway.  I'm planning on meeting twice a month or so.  As well as doing a fundraiser for a field trip to take the club up to Mount Wilson or Griffith.  Planning on doing solar outreach with the club during lunchtime and such.  Any similar high school friendly advice is great.  Please enjoy the photos  :grin:


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#6240620 The 6" Unitron in Denton, TX

Posted by Jim Curry on 04 October 2014 - 11:22 PM

I just had an enjoyable evening in Denton, Texas at the Rafes Urban Astronomy Center at UNT (University of North Texas). My hosts were several physics majors led up by Jim Bader, a junior.  I arrived over an hour ahead of the public star party (having made previous arrangements).  Jim greeted me, we opened up the 16' observatory, and I stared up at a very majestic scope tricked out with most of the bells and whistles those advertisements beckoned us with.  Jim opened the shutters, slewed the scope to the moon and left me in solitude while he finished organizing his team for the 50-60 attendees to the monthly star party.  I'll post a few pictures tonight.


door view s.jpg

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#6222076 Refractor vs SCT

Posted by rmollise on 23 September 2014 - 08:42 AM

Right tool for the right job. The SCT has the edge with light gathering power, which is usually your numero uno requirement. However, a smaller APO can produce incredible views. You may not go as deep as with a C8, but the trip will be well worth it. And an 80 - 100mm APO can produce the tack-sharp wide-field images an SCT just can't deliver.


I'm sorry, y'all; I gotta be honest...the older I get, the more I appreciate my small refractors. Not that I will ever stop using a C8. ;)


The solution? "Both." :lol:

  • LivingNDixie, Jon Isaacs, skypilgrim and 6 others like this

#6214091 Unitron 114; Some Surprises!

Posted by choran on 17 September 2014 - 11:28 PM

Many potential classic scope buyers read our posts, and with good reason, because there's a lot of expertise on this Forum!


My advice to these folks interested in Japanese refractors:  Generally, the older the better, for as Johann says, when the market grew, the standards sometimes slipped.  Glass from the 50s & 60s is usually very good.  If the Buyer wants to hedge their bets, and has the money, a classic Unitron is the way to go.  Even if the optics aren't great, the mount is an excellent starting point for other OTAs.  If the Buyer can't afford a Unitron, there are other Golden Age imports that we've already mentioned, and some of these can still be had for bargain prices.  IMO, less than $300 for a 3" EQ kit is a very good deal.  I post Sears (Royal) 6336 because Sears didn't make the scope -- they only sold it -- and the Maker's Marks do matter in terms of quality and reliability.  I'm not ashamed of the label.  Every time I look through it, I'm glad that these old department stores even bothered with selling Japanese imports -- gave a lot of us rural folks an opportunity to stay in this hobby for 40 years or more.  I agree that it's the views that matter most, not the label on the focuser.  And yes, a Buyer can get a mass-market classic refractor with superior optics, they just have to put more effort into shopping, and more research into the effort before they buy -- unless they are really lucky (I'm definitely not in that group!).

I think that's all good Advice, BB.  As a relatively new entrant into the world of these older telescopes, I would add a bit more advice to someone considering such a purchase for the first time.  I'm really only talking about refractors here, as this is where my very  limited experience lies.


1.  When buying on ebay and the like, don't assume anything--some folks selling scopes have no prior experience with telescopes at all, and may have simply inherited the item or had it given to them. You need to ask about even obvious things, like whether there is an objective in the scope.  Also, people will often get the scope model and lens size wrong, just because they don't know much about telescopes.  Have them read you the writing on the scope to make sure.  


2.  Do not be disappointed if you have to do a little work on the scope.  Some have minor issues like saggy draw tubes that are rather easily remedied, but may require you to find out how to replace felt, plastic runners, and the like.  Focusers usually need some work, which may involve no more than disassembling and removing old grease, and other general cleanup. This is generally very easy to do, as they have few moving parts--just work in an area where you won't lose any.


3.  Try to check in advance for things like missing collimation screws.  If the sale is a long-distance one, try to talk to the person, at least via email, and ask questions.  He or she may not know what collimations screws are, but you can describe "the 6 screws on the metal surrounding the big piece of glass" and the person can count them for you.  If they are missing, you are in for a hunt, since many if not all all odd thread pitches (4mm x.75 is often the case) not available anymore.  I had to find a guy to fabricate some for me on a scope, but it was worth it to me.  Might not be worth it to you, however.  


4.  If the scope must be shipped and you are dealing with a fellow astronomer who knows what's what, consider having the cell/lens shipped separately.  In any event, ask that small pieces of tape be placed on the collimation screws and any other screw that might wiggle loose and bounce around.  Consider asking that the lens cap be taped on for the same reason.  If the scope will ship with the dew shield screwed on, ask that they pack the shield with foam as well. 


5.  Consider seeing if the finder scope rings can be removed from the scope prior to shipping, not just the finder scope itself.  On some scopes this is very easy, on others not, but when left on they project up in such a way that they can be shattered during shipping from a hard blow to the carton, as they will project close to the surface of the packing carton.  Not so much a problem if the scope is shipped in its own wooden box, but they must still be padded therein.  They are often made of pot metal or soft aluminum.  Whatever, I believe they can just dry out over the decades and weaken, becoming almost powdery.  Just my opinion.


6.  Packing peanuts are horrible--they provide little if any protection, and just make a huge mess.  And they stick to my dogs.  Bubble wrap, hard foam, packing foam, and double boxes are the way to go. 


7.  If buying an EQ model, consider paying more to have the EQ mount's weights shipped in their own box if you can.


8.  If you are dealing with something very valuable, consider having a professional packing company pick it up and pack it and ship it to you.  More money, yes, but if the scope is one you have wanted for a long time, it might be worth it to you. 


9.  Don't expect miracles.  Insofar as refractors go, we are talking about scopes (probably 90% of the time) in the 50mm to 80mm range.  They are not magic.  They are small scopes, and can do a lot, but they have their limitations, like any other piece of gear.  To me, however, the views are very very nice, there is no long wait for the scope to cool, and they can easily be carried in and out.  I just leave two on their mounts and take them out when I want to view and am in business in less than 5 minutes.


10.  Buy a Cheshire eyepiece from Agena or somewhere and learn how to collimate your new find (assuming the model you choose has that capability--some don't).  This is actually usually a fairly easy process, I have found.  The only trick with the .965 scopes is finding a way to get the 1.25" Cheshire into the visual back.  There are ways to do this, and even if you can't, one can collimate by using either artificial stars or the real thing.  It's just far more cumbersome.


11.  If you decide to take the lens out of the cell, be careful.  It is very easy to chip the edges.  The technique for getting them out safely has been described here many times, so i won't repeat it.  Keep your bearings--remember which way the lenses go back in!  Do not separate the elements unless necessary, and if you must, don't lose the spacers.  If you can, get some model-specific advice here before embarking on removing the lenses.   Immediately upon removing them from the scope, mark "F" on the edge of the one that points skyward.  Also look for any pencil marks that may already be on the lenses.  These may be registration marks put on at the factory and may suggest a proper rotational orientation that should be followed.  Over the years, however, these lenses jiggle about, and will probably have rotated against one another in the cell, which means the marks may be off.  Whenever I have taken out a set, I mark the "F" on the edge, as well as a set of arrows pointing to one another so that I can at least get things back the way they started.   I wouldn't even remove them, frankly, unless convinced it is necessary.  If the lens is clean, leave well enough alone.  If very dirty, I'd carefully (won't describe how, as it's been done before) clean only the front surface of the objective without removing it from the scope.  If and only if there is lots of stuff in between the elements and/or on the backside, I'd go further.


12.  Consider blackening any interior surfaces where the black paint has come off over the years.


13.  Do not assume that the mount that comes with the scope will be satisfactory, and factor into your buying decision the potential cost of rings, a mounting plate, and mount, which you may indeed end up needing.  Sadly, many but not all of the old mounts are just bad.  At a minimum, the tripod legs are usually inadequate.  It may be that some of the old EQ mounts are usable, but my experience has been that most are marginal, and the legs must go. In the case of 60mm scopes, be aware that finding rings can be difficult.  In the case of 75-80mm OTAs, the Orion 90mm rings work well when you add felt, which can be purchased from ScopeStuff or McMaster Carr in varying thicknesses, and either plain or with adhesive already added.  I like the adhesive type, but double sided thin carpet tape works well, as does felt glue.  The felt can be accurately and cleanly cut using a razor blade and straightedge.  


14.  When in doubt about whether a particular model is a good one, ask here, either by PM or post.  There are lots of people here who have given me good advice on things based upon their own experiences, and I am never afraid to ask.


15.  When cleaning an OTA, go easy.  I'd avoid harsh polishing compounds, because if you are not careful, you may end up removing more than just accumulated dirt and discoloration.  These old scopes used varying quality paint, some quite hard, thick enamel, and some that isn't as good and can get chalky with age.  Just be   careful, and go slow.  Warm water and soap will remove much gunk with no risk.  Mineral spirits and even WD40 can remove accumulated grease.  Just don't leave the WD40 on afterwards, as it is not meant for lubrication, and eventually gets gunky itself.


16.  Most importantly, if you want one of these old scopes, get one.  They won't be around forever.  Don't pay a fortune, but for anywhere from $50 to $250 or so, you can find a very nice, small, long focus refractor that will be fun to use.  Unitrons usually go for more, but sometimes a Unitron OTA alone shows up that is dinged up but is still quite satisfactory.


These are just my suggestions, and just things that I have noted.  Your approach and concerns may be quite different, so take it all with a large grain of salt.

  • xavier, starman876, Don Taylor and 6 others like this

#6151096 Things that go bump in the night

Posted by Starman1 on 07 August 2014 - 12:52 AM

The flip side of that story is that I was purposely observing at a site known to have drug deals going down.  The Ranger suggested I keep an eye out and call him if I saw stuff.

A van filled with cholos showed up and started drinking and listening to loud rap music.  One of the guys (stereotypical chinos and white wife-beater t-shirt and hairnet) saunters over to me and says, "What're you looking at, sir?"  Right away I sense this won't be a typical encounter.  While his friends party and listen to music, he patiently sits and looks through the scope with me, asking fairly intelligent questions.  After a couple hours, his friends called out, "Hey Nerd!  Let's go."  He wished me a good night, shook my hand, and left.

Maybe there was one homey who had a telescope in his future.  I'd like to think so.

  • Scanning4Comets, mdowns, Red Shift and 6 others like this

#6243027 ISS with ATV-5, crossing the Sun and passing at night

Posted by Thierry Legault on 06 October 2014 - 12:17 PM

Hello, for personal reasons I wanted to take pictures of the European cargo ATV-5 (now docked to the ISS until February 2015) and that's what I did on Sept 8 (crossing the Sun in 0.7 second, in white light and Halpha) and sept 28 (passing at night). Turbulence was quite high unfortunately! I used the satellite tracking system on the C14+Titan, and a GPS trigger module to launch the continous shooting on the Sony Alpha 77 DSLR (12 fps...but only during 1 second!).


Animations, stereo pairs of the ISS and instruments are in the Full HD movie: http://youtu.be/AtEVzRx9ktw


Here are a few still shots:










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#6241454 The 6" Unitron in Denton, TX

Posted by Jim Curry on 05 October 2014 - 12:37 PM

Mikey: All in a day's work for a mechanical engineer but yes, high industrial art that we may not see again in our hobby.





north2 s.jpg


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#6240589 Thinking of a Great but Unknown Mirror Maker

Posted by Stephen Kennedy on 04 October 2014 - 10:53 PM

We all know the names of America's master mirror makers and if we are lucky enough to have a mirror made by one of these superb craftsmen we proudly tell our colleagues who it was that made our wonderful mirror.

In 1988 I was the Consul General at the U.S. Consulate on Kyushu, the westernmost of the main islands of Japan.  A massive Pentax MS-5 GEM had fallen into my lap at a very good price and I wanted a premium OTA to go with it.  Through the local Astronomy store in Fukuoka, Japan I ordered a 210 mm F/7 Newtonian reflector OTA from the Mikage Optical Laboratory of Japan.  The owner of the telescope store told me that when the president of Mikage learned who had ordered the OTA he assigned his senior mirror maker the job of making the mirror.  They did not tell me his name and said it did not matter.

I have used this telescope for the past 26 years and was always amazed at what I could see with an 8.3" mirror.

Recently, I took the mirror in to Optics Wave Laboratory (OWL) to have it recoated.  Cary at OWL, at no additional cost, did an exhaustive analysis of the mirror's quality and informed me that it was "impossibly good" with a P-V wave error of 1/42 lambda and a Strehl ratio of 0.999...  Cary then did a great job of recoating the mirror and it is back in my telescope and coliminated.


I am thrilled to own such a great mirror but saddened and a little bit ashamed that I am unable to tell anyone who made this uniquely perfect mirror especially for me.  Mikage is no longer in business and I do not even know if this incredible optician is still alive.  I recently finished grinding and polishing my own 8" mirror which gave me a much greater appreciation for how difficult it is to make even an acceptable mirror let alone a perfect one. 


Someday, if I ever get back to Japan, I will try to find out the identity of this man who would easily belong in the pantheon of great American and European mirror makers.


When I am out observing tonight, enjoying the spectacular views through my reflector, I will think of this Japanese master mirror maker who toiled in anonymity to make my telescope's mirror.

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#6223679 Refractor vs SCT

Posted by rmollise on 24 September 2014 - 08:56 AM

I feel like you must not be looking too hard, then!  I have known lots and lots like that in recent years  -  People who have no concept of the universe, almost like someone off the street, who are out there at a club or star party GOTO-ing and even imaging.

I look pretty hard and go to many more star parties than most folks...but nowhere do I find these abysmally ignorant amateur astronomers that are troubling you. Oh, some folks are influenced by certain personal metaphysical beliefs, shall we say, but even they usually know the basic facts about globulars, galaxies, and nebulae. ;)

The man or woman behind the eyepiece, BTW, is still much more important than the aperture or pedigree of the  telescope. And the most wonderful thing about amateur astronomy? There are no rules as to how it must be practiced. If Boudreaux likes the images in his 5-inch APO, and isn't interested in an 18-inch Dob like you have, well, that's no skin off your nose, now is it?


Finally, no matter what you do, what your interest is, be it bird-watching or baseball, there's always the temptation to want to feel superior to others in your pursuit. Especially the newbies. Especially those using that fancy gear ("Hell, in my day a telescope was a shaving mirror and a magnifying glass out of a box of Crackerjacks. And we were lucky to have it!"). Fight that temptation and you will have a much better time in our pursuit. ;)

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#6215731 Started my own Club

Posted by youngamateur42 on 18 September 2014 - 11:44 PM

Also, in total, I got about 37 members. Pretty respectable I think  :jump:

  • Jon Isaacs, BrettG, LLD and 5 others like this

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