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Equipment Discussions >> Classic Telescopes

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dickie
member
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Reged: 12/13/07

Loc: Cape Cod,Mass.
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: gatorengineer]
      #5628724 - 01/17/13 07:38 PM

Observed every night I could as a kid during the mid 60's with a Sears 60mm refractor,returned to astronomy after 40 year hiatus with a Megrez 110 and 12 inch dob.The most clear and distinct difference I immediately saw is the clouds passing by the moon, now have a constant brown hue to them,maybe living in New England down wind from midwest power plants has something to do with it.Light pollution from my once rural area is now off the charts too.

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tim53
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Masvingo]
      #5628727 - 01/17/13 07:43 PM

Quote:

My star atlas for my early days, mid seventies, was the photo charts in A Field Guide to the Star and Planets by Donald Menzel bought when we were on holiday in South Africa along with a small 4.5" reflector on a very basic and wobbly alt-az mount.
James




That's the one! I got the author wrong in my post above. Sorry 'bout that.

-Tim.


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Datapanic
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/17/09

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Cepheus Elf]
      #5628739 - 01/17/13 07:46 PM

I started in 72 or 73 on Guam with a 60mm refractor and the manual - that's all I had! My next door neighbor was also my teacher and she did a small section on Astronomy which got me started. Later, after moving back to the states, my high school had lots of books, a planetarium and an Astronomy club. That's when I go my Cave 8" Lightweight Deluxe, which I still own today. Back then, and even now, I used Atlas of the Heavens (1950 epoch) and a catalog I made from S&T's Deepsky Wonders column along with Setting Circles to find things. I've never been much of a hopper, besides, it was cool to dial stuff in and there it was in the eyepiece. I haven't changed much since then - still using scopes from the same era but do have an 80's dual axis variable frequency drive control I made for easier tracking. Atronomy-wise, I only use the computer for imaging and Cloudy Nights. Oh yeah, and to buy stuff

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tim53
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5628742 - 01/17/13 07:49 PM

Before that, though, was this book, which I bought with my hard-earned allowance (I got $2, twice a month!) when I was 11:



The ABCs of Astronomy by Roy A Gallant

I think the book cost me about 5 bucks, too, so more than a month's pay back then! It had decent star charts for binoculars, and blurbs about interesting astronomical factoids.

I still had my copy when we had a house fire in 2001, which destroyed our attic and most of the contents, including that book I keep looking for a replacement, because I spent many nights propped up in my bed looking out my south window with binoculars, consulting those charts.

-Tim.


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tim53
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Reged: 12/17/04

Loc: Highland Park, CA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5628761 - 01/17/13 07:54 PM

This was a fun book, too. Bought it when I was 13 or 14.



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actionhac
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Reged: 08/09/08

Loc: Seattle
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: gatorengineer]
      #5628768 - 01/17/13 07:55 PM

My 1960's astronomy was lots of naked eye observing.
I remember laying in my sleeping bag and looking at the stars a lot.
Learning the constellations for my scout merit badge.
My Mercury 7X35 binocular was given to me mid. 60's.
Grandma gave me a 2 1/2" reflector around 1966.
My technical books were Sky & Telescope and a Herbert S. Zim book on observing.
In the 60's I don't really remember a telescope being that important, it seemed I could see plenty with my imagination.
I was a serious sci-fi bookworm, especially Robert Heinlein.
In the 70's it was less sci-fi and more scientific non-fiction, and a more serious telescope eventually.
My Jr. high years starting in 1970 were unforgettable. We had astronomy and model rocketry, wood shop, metal shop.

Robert



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BarabinoSr
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Slidell La
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: actionhac]
      #5628882 - 01/17/13 09:01 PM Attachment (36 downloads)

Hi All!!
Just begun reading this great post, and enjoying everyone's stories on their exploits during those years. I first took interest in the sky as an 11 year old kid back in 1965,from reading my older brother's high school science book. I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a much different world back then, and even from the city the night sky was not bad from where I lived at that time.But I got a spyglass type scope later that year,but it did'nt show much. I increased my knowledge of telescopes and astronomy from reading books at the school library,and by February of 1970 I had obtained a small Selsi 60mm variable power scope(60x-30x-45x60x) and by then my family and I moved to a housing development . I got a summer job working for the city of New Orleans and obtained a 4" Selsi Stargazer Reflector.During that time I met a 14 year-old kid named Mel Dawson who also loved astronomy and on Aug. 16,1970, he and I founded the Vega Observatory and recorded our views of the partial lunar eclipse using the variable powered scope and the Stargazer reflector. I can remember how crisp and clear those views were under clear skies,even though I was living only 5 miles as the crow flies from the heart of the city and especially how much I enjoyed observing the sky. Shortly after that event,I started to keep Annual Journals, that date from 1970 hence of our observing activities,and these old beginning observations have even survived the flood waters of Huricane Katrina in 2005. The name of our little observatory was changed to the Vega Sky Center in 1975, and has since grown greatly. To me its amazing how far we've come from the days of two young men and a couple of small telescopes . The scope in the picture (Holmar) looks just like the Selsi from the 1970's with the click stop drawtube. The other shot shows an exact copy of the Selsi Stargazer 4" reflector. Gary

Edited by BarabinoSr (01/17/13 09:13 PM)


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BarabinoSr
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Slidell La
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: BarabinoSr]
      #5628892 - 01/17/13 09:11 PM Attachment (34 downloads)

4" Selsi Stargazer,alt-azimuth reflector. It has two eyepieces labeled 40x and 80x,sized .917 diameter.Exactly like the one from the 70's. Gary G

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John Higbee
sage
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Reged: 07/17/12

Loc: Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5628896 - 01/17/13 09:14 PM

Tim - those two books (ABC's of Astronomy, and Star Maps for Beginners) were the first two books in my astronomy library...and I still have them! Got "the ABCs" from my folks in 1964, along with my Tasco 60mm refractor (the one with the integral "slide stop" eyepiece that gave you 15, 30, 45 and 60X, depending on how far you pulled it out!).

Grew up in the St. Louis suburbs - skies weren't dark, but they were "observable". My 7th grade Earth Science teacher (the best teacher I ever had) hooked me on astronomy...I wore out the 520 (Dewey Decimal Sys code for Astronomy...remember?) section of my school and public library soaking up astronomy info.

Cut my teeth on the 60mm (still have it, objective is in great shape but the rest of the scope in sad need of renovation!). Graduated to the Edmund 4.25 f/10 reflector on an equatorial in 1967...what a wonderful scope that was (is)! Haunted the (then) brand new McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park...convinced the director that two of us (at that time sophomores in high school) were trustworthy enough to host public viewings on the roof of the planetarium. The viewing deck was reached via a ramp that wrapped itself around the outside of the star theater dome...the deck had three 8" cassegrains on pier mounted GEMs (possibly Caves...not sure). We would set up the scopes on the Moon, Jupiter or Saturn, or a bright Messier object, and host questions...a lot of fun, but the excellence of the scopes was more than offset by inner city skyglow (those skies really WERE awful!).

My Dad was a great supporter...he helped me make longer legs for the Tasco tripod, and sank a concrete mounted pipe pier for my 4.25 Edmund in our back yard. He would even occasionally take a look at the Moon, but felt that observing was my job. Lost him 11 years ago...still miss him!

Four of my classmates and I formed an astronomy club (The Celestial Observers of St. Louis...no bashfulness in that selection(!)) and pooled our telescopes at each other's house for Friday night star parties, fueled by Pepsi and enthusiasm. Our pride of the pack was my friend Bob's brand new RV-6...when it showed up, our other scopes got a vacation. I can remember staying up with my friends to dawn observing on many a Saturday morning. We even gave planetarium shows of our own for the neighborhood kids, using a Spitz Junior Planetarium with red cellophane taped over Aldeberan and Antares for "local color".

St. Louis was a great place to grow up, and a great place to be an (amateur) astronomer in the 1960's...setting circles, synchronous clock drives, Norton's Star Atlas, and good friends!

John


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John Higbee
sage
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Reged: 07/17/12

Loc: Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: tim53]
      #5629037 - 01/17/13 10:41 PM

Tim - PM sent. John

Edited by John Higbee (01/17/13 10:43 PM)


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Meadeball
sage


Reged: 10/22/12

Loc: Midlothian, Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: John Higbee]
      #5629137 - 01/17/13 11:40 PM

Ah, the good old days. I started in 1976. Tell me, who else grew up with the good ol' trusty Edmund Mag 5 Star Atlas? I still have mine and use it from time to time.



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Rich (RLTYS)Moderator
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Reged: 12/18/04

Loc: New York (Long Island)
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Meadeball]
      #5629388 - 01/18/13 06:14 AM

Started observing with my first telescope Christmas 1967 a Tasco 6TE-5 refractor. One thing no one has mentioned was the skies were a lot darker back then.

Rich (RLTYS)


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Mirzam
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Reged: 04/01/08

Loc: Lovettsville, VA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Rich (RLTYS)]
      #5629606 - 01/18/13 10:14 AM Attachment (25 downloads)

I began my foray into amateur astronomy in 1965, after receiving a Gilbert 3" cardboard reflector for Christmas, followed the next year by a 4.5" Tasco reflector (Lunagrosso). Viewing was from a white zone suburb of D.C., although at the time the skies where probably yellow or maybe better. Knocked off most of the Messier list from that location. I was never happy with the images of the Tasco. Wish now that I had known something about collimation!

In 1968 a remarkable thing happened. I walked into a Drug Fair store (sort of like CVS) and found a paperback copy of "How to Make a Telescope" by Jean Texereau. Can you imagine finding a book like this today at a drug store, or a 15 year old kid buying it?

I remember being in our basement in 1968 when the news came about RFK's assasination. I was working on a 6-inch mirror, (which was never finished as the normal 15-year-old hormones finally kicked in). Later that year I bought an RV-6, which was and is a great little scope. It's still around.

JimC


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Meadeball
sage


Reged: 10/22/12

Loc: Midlothian, Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Rich (RLTYS)]
      #5629683 - 01/18/13 10:55 AM

Quote:

One thing no one has mentioned was the skies were a lot darker back then.




Only about half of the people responding to this thread did!

Way back when I started, our club's (Richmond Astronomical Society) observatory was located wayyyy out in the far limits of the suburbs, surrounded by a few acres of pine trees, and gave stellar views from Mag 6/7 skies. My first-ever view of M42 through that 7-inch refractor is forever etched in my mind's eye. In the early 80s, though, development encroached. The ENTIRE stretch of woods between the observatory and the road were purchased for a shopping center, and to add insult to injury, the supermarket they placed within feet of the observatory was called Big Star. We did have some input on lighting, and the shopping center obliged by installing shielded parking lot lights, but it was never the same. Today the observatory still stands there, blocked from view by a fence and (usually) several reefer trailers for the store. The suburbs now stretch a good 10 miles farther out, and the sky pollution from the malls, restaurants and car dealerships is worse than that coming from downtown. The telescope is only good for planetary and solar work now, and the club can't seem to come up with the funds required to move the old beauty. I haven't been active in the club in years, but I still drive by the Ragland Observatory from time to time and cast a sad look at its current situation. Poor scope.



Edited by Meadeball (01/18/13 10:56 AM)


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catboat
professor emeritus
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Reged: 12/01/09

Loc: Maine
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5629729 - 01/18/13 11:14 AM

Quote:

I lived through it, and I can tell you things have not changed much at all. One thing I do guard against? Putting on the DADGUM HAIR SHIRT with the novices and telling them real men do not use go-to and Ethoses.




HAIR SHIRT?? Where can I get one of those?


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: catboat]
      #5630068 - 01/18/13 03:01 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I lived through it, and I can tell you things have not changed much at all. One thing I do guard against? Putting on the DADGUM HAIR SHIRT with the novices and telling them real men do not use go-to and Ethoses.




HAIR SHIRT?? Where can I get one of those?




You are automatically issued one when you reach your 40th year or so as an amateur...


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terraclarke
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Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5630142 - 01/18/13 03:47 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.'

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orion61

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Reged: 10/20/07

Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's [Re: terraclarke]
      #5630198 - 01/18/13 04:18 PM

I got my first scope after my "older" Niece got a 3" Reflector. (I was born when my folks were in their 40's)
I have a Sister old enough to be my MOM! But I was hooked,
I saved all the money I made in the Summer helping neighbors haul Hay Bales and an allowance. it was horrible! My English teacher heard about me from my Science teacher
and was offered his old Edmund Reflector, it was so nice in that wooden box, everything well taken care of and there were 3!!! eyepieces. He sold it to me (gave it) fo me doing extra credit work and helping him at Ball Games he had to be. I had it well into adulthood. I ended up giving it to my younger nephew who, to my horror, trashed it....
Boy but on that Farm in Ne. was it DARK!!


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jgraham
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Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Miami Valley Astronomical Soci...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's [Re: terraclarke]
      #5630210 - 01/18/13 04:22 PM

Wow, that's an interesting question. Some of us have been at this so long it's hard to remember what it was like way back then. I started around 1962. Things were pretty basic; books from the library (our Internet), 40mm telescope from the local pawn shop, spending a lot of time with the shallow-sky (stars, constellations, watching those new fangled satellites flying overhead). Deepsky? What was that? You mean those little speckly patches in Norton's Star Atlas? Gosh, there must be dozenís off them! Catalogs were little paper pamphlets from mail-order houses. If you were rich (by our standards) you could buy a scope, if not you drooled over Amateur Telescope Making Books I, II, and III (mostly I and II). I funded my first homebuilt telescope project (a 4.25" f/8, the first of over two dozen homebuilt scopes ending with my 16.5" f/6.5) by mowing lawns, shoveling snow, and collecting the deposits from pop bottles. I handle a little yellow elephant piggy-bank on the mantle in our living room that slowing got heavy enough to order the mirror grinding kit from Precision Optical in Ithaca New York (a far off land somewhere East from Kansas City, Mo.). I still have the Royal portable typewriter I used to write the letter for the kit. I was shattered when I got a letter back informing that the price of the kit had gone up $1.50 from the 1950's era pamphlet my Dad had (he was an ATM back in the really old days). We not only built our own scopes, but we also built our own cameras and developed our own film. Noth'n like push-processing 4"x5" Tri-X sheet film! I never thought that'd I'd get that smell outa my hands.

Over the years it has been fascinating to watch the hobby progress from one era to another. A wonderful life-long pursuit.

Enjoy.


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catboat
professor emeritus
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Reged: 12/01/09

Loc: Maine
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's [Re: rmollise]
      #5630221 - 01/18/13 04:30 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

I lived through it, and I can tell you things have not changed much at all. One thing I do guard against? Putting on the DADGUM HAIR SHIRT with the novices and telling them real men do not use go-to and Ethoses.





HAIR SHIRT?? Where can I get one of those?




You are automatically issued one when you reach your 40th year or so as an amateur...






I doubt I'll make it that far. Can I request an itchy pine box as a consolation prize?


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