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Equipment Discussions >> Classic Telescopes

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Ed Wiley
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Kansas, USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Cepheus Elf]
      #5635462 - 01/21/13 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


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Meadeball
sage


Reged: 10/22/12

Loc: Midlothian, Virginia
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5635484 - 01/21/13 06:19 PM

Quote:

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?

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.

Edited by Meadeball (01/21/13 06:21 PM)


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terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Ed Wiley]
      #5636448 - 01/22/13 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

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Glen A W
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5636569 - 01/22/13 10:17 AM

Quote:

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




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


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bremms
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/31/12

Loc: SC
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5637019 - 01/22/13 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.

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bremms
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/31/12

Loc: SC
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: bremms]
      #5637144 - 01/22/13 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.

Edited by bremms (01/22/13 03:25 PM)


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philjay
super member


Reged: 12/02/09

Loc: UK Derby
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: bremms]
      #5637241 - 01/22/13 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


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terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: Glen A W]
      #5637313 - 01/22/13 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!


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t.r.
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 02/14/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5637594 - 01/22/13 07:27 PM Attachment (10 downloads)

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.vintagepbks.com/gg-titles/sky_observe.html


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BarabinoSr
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 11/17/05

Loc: Slidell La
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: t.r.]
      #5637768 - 01/22/13 09:07 PM

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

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iluxo
sage


Reged: 09/23/08

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: BarabinoSr]
      #5638253 - 01/23/13 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.


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Jim Curry
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 10/29/07

Loc: STL
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: t.r.]
      #5638285 - 01/23/13 06:18 AM

That book is still in my library, too!

Jim


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rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: bremms]
      #5638355 - 01/23/13 07:48 AM

Quote:

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.


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terraclarke
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/29/12

Loc: Just South of the Mason-Dixon ...
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: rmollise]
      #5638598 - 01/23/13 10:28 AM

No one has mentioned (or I fail to remember reading it- if so I apologize for my old age ) 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!


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Cepheus Elf
member


Reged: 08/01/10

Loc: Rainy, Cloudy Lancashire UK
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5639364 - 01/23/13 06:17 PM

Quote:

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!


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

Mick


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will808
member


Reged: 03/07/11

Loc: Haymarket Va
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's new [Re: terraclarke]
      #5639381 - 01/23/13 06:28 PM Attachment (16 downloads)

We did the best we could with what we had...i saw craters on the moon with a 30x40 tabletop earned through selling greeting cards in the mid sixties and it lit a fire that still burns & i think it does in all of us!

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Glen A W
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/04/08

Loc: USA
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's [Re: will808]
      #5639383 - 01/23/13 06:30 PM

How come every time we get a good thread going, somebody posts a pretty lens-scope pic and makes me feel bad because of my insatiable jealousy? GW

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rguasto
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/18/10

Loc: Long Island, NY
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's [Re: terraclarke]
      #5639435 - 01/23/13 07:05 PM Attachment (14 downloads)

When a close friends father passed, I inherited all his astronomical equipment. This was my introduction to astronomy. He was an avid astronomer in the late 50's until his passing in the mid 1990's. His wide field eyepiece was a surplus erfle. I did use it a lot, but have stored it away now.. Yes, the eye lens is huge, all the glass is uncoated and I cannot appreciate any field stop (the barrel most likely). Works great in an F8 reflector.

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BrooksObs
professor emeritus


Reged: 12/08/12

Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's [Re: Glen A W]
      #5639450 - 01/23/13 07:22 PM

A good deal of memory-spurring names and remembrances among the preceding posts for me. Started out before most here, back in the middle 50's with a 4" alt-az Dynascope. Soon graduated to a 60mm Unitron paired with a 6" f/10 reflector cobbled together from visits to Jaegers and Edmunds.

A much different hobby back then and one that I regard as much more interesting and involving. Mainly you were the creator of your own instruments, designing them to fit the type of observing you were most interested in. And the hobby was about observing, not collecting telescopes, eyepieces and gizmos without end.

Then, too, far more folks did serious visual observing, participating in various programs and studies in conjunction with Sky & Telescope. Big events saw hundreds of reports submitted by readers and summarized in their pages with scientifically valuable information gleaned. There initially was very little space program and amateurs were much closer to the leading edge of astronomy than can possibly be imagined today.

Stellafane, mentioned up-stream, was a nice little annual meeting of about 200 folks when I started and eventually you knew everybody by name and they knew you. John Gregory and Diane Lucas were mentioned earlier and both were longtime friends. So was Les Peltier, Tom Cragg (of Mt. Wilson), and so many others whose names are now long since cut in stone.

Others have mentioned the pristine skies. Even right on the edge of big cities they were beyond the imagination of what most travel hours to see nowadays here in the east. I recall counting 11-12 Pleiades with the unaided eye just 15 miles north of NYC and skies so dark and clear an hour north that Venus and Jupiter seriously bothered your dark adaptation (limiting magnitude 7.5) if up.

Yes, the Internet is fun and scopes do a lot more now, but I'd take back the 50's and 60's observing experience and the thrill of the developing space program any day over the way it all is now.

BrooksObs

Edited by BrooksObs (01/23/13 09:49 PM)


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Bonco
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/17/06

Loc: Florida
Re: Observing in the 60's and 70's [Re: BrooksObs]
      #5639479 - 01/23/13 07:46 PM

Great thread. Thanks BrooksObs for your post. It pesented many of my thoughts and memories. I'm just a year or two behind you as I began observing in the late 50's. In the early 60's I and my friend's got credit in Sky and Telescope for capturing photo's of a Saturn occultation by the moon and shadow timing events of a luanr eclipse. At around 12-13 years old I was proud to see our results published. Sure enjoy those memories.
Bill


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