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Observing in the 60's and 70's

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#51 DAVIDG

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:50 PM

Diane Lucas, an amazing individual, who used to share her 6" ATM Mak with some of us younger members. That was an exotic treat!


What else can you recall about that Mak? My club received a 4" ATM Mak recently. I understand there was a subculture of ATMers building Maks back then, as home-grown alternatives to costly refractors, and want to learn more.


It was called the Maksutov Club, which started at Stellafane back in the late 50's when John Gregory displayed his 5" Mak at Stellafane in 1956 and wrote his famous article about his Mak Cass design for Sky and Tel in 1957. The club published a newsletter from that time until the early 80's. The best of the articles became the two volume books "Advanced Telescope Making Technics-Optical"and the second volume "Mecanical" which are available from Willmann Bell. The Mak club also arranged for Hayward Glass in Cal. to make the Mak corrector blanks in sizes from 4" up to 11". Diane Lucas has a couple of articles in those books. Coulter Optics also sold the corrector shells in the 1970's as well.

- Dave

#52 John Jarosz

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 07:52 PM

I almost bought a Mak optical set in the 80's, I think JMI was selling them. It would have been an ATM project without building the optical components. I came thisclose to pulling the trigger. I forget why I didn't.

#53 jeffg

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 12:01 AM

My brother and I started into astronomy in the mid-60s with a 3 inch reflector we got from Sears for Christmas. It was a Harmonic Reed and had a simple eyepiece and a horrid Barlow, but you could get a useful 75x out of it before the images became blurry. We upgraded it to 1.25 inch eyepieces with a focuser from Edmund and two Ramsden eyepieces. I used to looking longingly at the Orthos in the Edmund catalog, but there was no way I could afford $14.95 for one as a teenager. We eventually got one of the RV-6 scopes from Criterion, which even had a clock drive, which very few in our Astro club had. As had been said previously, Uncle Rod is right, no way would I want to go back to those days. The skies were darker, but that didn't mean you knew how to find much of the faint stuff. This evening I was looking at some negatives of Comet Bennett I took in 1967, but they aren't very good--focus is poor, and the stars are elongated due to poor tracking. So it is much easier to get a decent shot today.

#54 CHASLX200

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:09 AM

Since this was before my era, could anyone who was observing during the 60's and or 70's please elaborate on what observing was like in those days? Did you find yourself fussing with your telescope mechanics or did you find yourself paying more attention to what you were observing in the night sky?


I started out in 1976 and found myself trying to find stuff in the sky. Everything was new to me and i would love to go back and start over.

Chas

#55 Larry10

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:23 AM

Summed up well, Dave!
There is a wonderful book, Telescopes for Stargazing, by Henry E. Paul that shows a good spectrum of the gear used in the early 60's. Not too hard to find a used copy online.
Larry

#56 bogg

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:36 AM

I got started in the 70s with a copy of The Stars. Nothing but eyeball observing to start. I could even remember most of the constilations. My Dad one Christmas got me my first "telescope". It was a Bushnell Skymaster with a 20 to 45 power eyepiece and a photographic trypod. I enjoyed many a nght observing Looking at Jupiter and its moons. One night I was shure I was looking at Andromeda. I just panned arround the sky. Looking at what I found. I still have that Skymaster and it brings back some good memories and at 60mm still produces an amazing view for terestial or astronomical.

#57 SkipW

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:52 AM

One thing is for sure: cold-weather clothing is much better now! Today's outdoor gear is lighter, far less bulky, and warmer.

I sure don't miss freezing my butt off. Maybe I'm just more cold tolerant now, but I don't think so.

#58 rmollise

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:49 PM

Well I never got mine darn it! I need a hair shirt keep me warm. I haven't been able to get my butt outside at night to observe with anything other than my two eyes since Thanksgiving weekend. Whenever its clear here at night this winter its also below 30 and I don't allow frost on my 'objective.' :tonofbricks:


Hint: the purpose of one is not to keep you warm... :lol:

#59 Glen A W

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:25 PM

It seemed to me then that is was much more about the sky and much less about the equipment- or perhaps that was just the exuberance of youth and living in the "space age."


That did not really get lost until the late 80s and all through the 90s. Now, I am kind of sick of all the equipment fascination. S&T hardly even did equipment reviews until about 1990! I liked things better then.

Edit : I may be wrong about that. It's only how it seemed to me! I didn't have the money for a bigger scope, so I made do with a 60mm and it was, actually, pretty great.

#60 Glen A W

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:40 PM

Star Maps for Beginners was my first book! The cover was different than on yours. Those little cross shaped maps worked really well - I still use the book sometimes. GW

#61 Ed Wiley

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:05 PM

Uncle Rod summed it up. The only thing I would add is that the 50s were magical with my little 60mm refractor. Naturally most of my observing then was Luna and the bright planets.

Ed

#62 Meadeball

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 06:19 PM

It seemed to me then that is was much more about the sky and much less about the equipment-


Well, that's because we all had 6-inch newtonians. What was the point? :lol:

I say that half-jokingly, but in all honesty, when my club started doing monthly "skywatches" behind the Science Museum of Virginia in the late '70s, we'd have, oh, 10 guys with scopes show up and half of them would be Criterion RV-6's.

#63 terraclarke

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:10 AM

I thought the ring nebula (M57), the trapezium, the double double e-Lyra, and lovely Alberio were also pretty magical in my little Japanese 60 mm back then, even in the suburbs. Never underestimate a good 60 mm on a decently stable mount, even now. And that was back with the 0.965 eyepieces :bow:

#64 Glen A W

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:17 AM

I thought the ring nebula (M57), the trapezium, the double double e-Lyra, and lovely Alberio were also pretty magical in my little Japanese 60 mm back then, even in the suburbs. Never underestimate a good 60 mm on a decently stable mount, even now. And that was back with the 0.965 eyepieces :bow:


Since I only had a 60, I thought it was a perfectly adequate galaxy scope. Looking back I am amazed at what I saw with it. I wouldn't even try it, now. GW

#65 bremms

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

Nothing wrong with 0.965 eyepieces. I have some nice Celestron Kellners and one 8mm plossl. Zeiss and pentax made some REALLY nice eyepieces in 0.965. My 18mm and 30mm Kellner have really nice coatings and perform very well with my Tasco 11TR and Sears 6339.

#66 bremms

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 03:18 PM

I was about eight or nine when I remember going out to the country one evening to the house my parents just bought. It was Quite dark there in 1970. (still is pretty dark) Really loved astronomy and was watching every moon mission whenever I could. You could see so many stars there, just sat outside in the yard looking at the stars and milky way. Went and found a book about constellations the next day. That was the start.

#67 philjay

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:10 PM

Observing was so much simpler then, no pcs/ power packs/ gotos to fail, set up took no time at all with my Tasco 10TE and I learned the sky from an early age. I kept a log of all observations with sketches, still have some of the logs in my book shelf, makes interesting reading.
I even tried taking photos with my Zenit B strapped to the back of the tasco, got some nice lunar shots and some wobbly DSOs. The DSOs were fun, manual guiding for 4 or 5 minutes in teh middle of winter getting a stiff neck, ahh the memories.
I think thats why I like using classics so much, yep I have hi tech computerised mounts and Apo scopes but theres nothing like taking a classic out on a clear night and doing it the old fashioned way

Phil

#68 terraclarke

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:41 PM

Hi Glen,
Nothing at all wrong with 0.965s. I have a wonderful collection of vintage Japanese 0.965 eps which now include three orthoscopics, but my selection was a bit more limited back then. In 1965-67 my eyepiece collection consisted of a 40 mm Jaegers (I think it was a Kelner- I no longer have it), a 12.5 mm Jaegers Huygens, a 20mm Mayflower Ramsden, 5 and 6 mm Mayflower H.M.s, and one 7 mm Unitron S.A. that was the prize of my collection. I used them to the best of my ability and squeezed every bit of performance out of them.

Now I have a full set of Unitrons, several circle V orthos, a couple of Circle T Celestrons and a couple of really nice early Meade Japanese including a 40 mm; all 0.965. I still use the 0.965s in my Unihex and in my Unitron diagonal, but I have also adapted all of my classic scopes to also use 1.25 inch accessories with full aperture adapters so there is no vignetting. I love the classic 1.25 inch volcano top orthos!

#69 t.r.

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 07:27 PM

Started with the Kmart "Focal" 40mm alt/az refractor with zoom feature in the mid 70's as a kid then progressed to the Service Merchandise Jason 313 Discoverer 60mm equatorial as a teen. I loved tracking down dim objects using the setting circles...it was slick! Anyone remember this book in its various reprints, it was in my pocket everywhere I went...

http://www.vintagepb...ky_observe.html

Attached Files



#70 BarabinoSr

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:07 PM

Sure do! I have a copy, one of my favorites !

#71 iluxo

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 05:23 AM

I started as an ATM in 1972, making a 4", 6" and 8" Newtonian, then around 1978 a folded f/18 6" that bears my name (see Sky &Telescope June 1981, ATM page). At that time I also had access to a beautiful 4.5" Cooke refractor, and a 9" refractor at a professional observatory.

The things that really stand out for me...

1. Eyepieces were terrible, really awful things compared to modern ones. High magnification was really tedious as it meant horrible eyepieces with no eye relief, narrow fields and tiny, poor quality lenses that more often than not scatterered a lot of light or were poorly aligned.

2. Mounts were positively agricultural compared to what most of us take for granted now.

3. Astrophotography using film, many nights taking shots, developing the negs in a darkroom...

4. Not to mention the painful visual guiding at high power on a guide star, using a an i,luminated eyepiece in a guide scope... There is nothing quite as incredibly tedious as doing this for say 1 hour straight on a cold night.

5. Computerised mounts, CCD's and auto guiders were just appearing in professional observatories at literally astronomical prices... It is truly remarkable that these are now easily within the grasp of amateurs.

#72 Jim Curry

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 06:18 AM

That book is still in my library, too!

Jim

#73 rmollise

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 07:48 AM

Nothing wrong with 0.965 eyepieces. I have some nice Celestron Kellners and one 8mm plossl. Zeiss and pentax made some REALLY nice eyepieces in 0.965. My 18mm and 30mm Kellner have really nice coatings and perform very well with my Tasco 11TR and Sears 6339.


Well, no...not much, anyway. The tiny eyelenses and restrictive barrels are turn-off, but those you mention and the Takahashis are very good optically.

Problem was, we didn't have--nobody _I_ new, anyway--Zeiss and Tak. We had Edmund and Tasco. Their .965s were invariably dreadful. I've run across some pretty good Japanese .965s from The Day, but those were few. ;)

#74 terraclarke

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:28 AM

No one has mentioned (or I fail to remember reading it- if so I apologize for my old age :lol: ) all the cool war surplus stuff we had available back then. My second telescope was a 6 inch F/4.5 reflector that I made myself for a high school science fair project. Got the mirror grinding kit from Edmund along with a diagonal spider, r&p focuser, and mirror cell. I worked all winter grinding and figuring the mirror in our laundry room. Then I made a really unsatisfactory pipe mount from instructions in an Edmund book called "Telescopes You Can Build."

I got an Edmund eq mount late the next summer for what seemed to be a fortune after I gave up on my pipe mount. I paid for it from a summer's worth of baby sitting and vacation pet care for neighbors.

But the really cool things that I remember most was a WWII surplus Erfle eyepiece that our neighbor who was a machinist made a 1.25inch brass adapter for (the ep was so heavy he had to re-work the focuser so it could support its weight) and a finder made from some sort of surplus artillery gun sight that came from Edmund or Jaegers. Anyway, the thing I remember most was that eyepiece. It had a huge eye lens and it seemed like I was looking through a space ship porthole when I looked at the Milky Way. I wish I still had it. I have never been able to replicate the view. Maybe I remember it as better than it really was because it was so cool at the time but it just seemed so neat!

#75 Cepheus Elf

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 06:17 PM

Hi Glen,
Nothing at all wrong with 0.965s. I have a wonderful collection of vintage Japanese 0.965 eps which now include three orthoscopics, but my selection was a bit more limited back then. In 1965-67 my eyepiece collection consisted of a 40 mm Jaegers (I think it was a Kelner- I no longer have it), a 12.5 mm Jaegers Huygens, a 20mm Mayflower Ramsden, 5 and 6 mm Mayflower H.M.s, and one 7 mm Unitron S.A. that was the prize of my collection. I used them to the best of my ability and squeezed every bit of performance out of them.

Now I have a full set of Unitrons, several circle V orthos, a couple of Circle T Celestrons and a couple of really nice early Meade Japanese including a 40 mm; all 0.965. I still use the 0.965s in my Unihex and in my Unitron diagonal, but I have also adapted all of my classic scopes to also use 1.25 inch accessories with full aperture adapters so there is no vignetting. I love the classic 1.25 inch volcano top orthos!

:like: I'm keeping hold of my Vixen .965s....great eyepieces!!!

Mick






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