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16" Light Speed For Sale

Price - $24,000.00

Ad Number: 107707

Posted: 08 Jun 2017

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The Light Speed 16
There are only of few of these scopes in the world and this one is the only production, long focal ratio 16” ever built. It is also the most optimized and updated Light Speed of any aperture that you will ever find anywhere.

The Original Design
The Light Speed 16 is an f5.75 fork-mounted Newtonian reflector designed by Charles Riddell that has been highly optimized for visual observation.

The primary optic is a 16-inch Zerodur mirror personally figured by legendary master optician, Jerry Wilkinson, one of the original founders of Galaxy Optics. The mirror was just recoated in July of 2016 with mill-spec, enhanced aluminum coatings by Newport Thin Film Laboratory in Chino, California. NTFL provides coatings for Lawrence Livermore Laboratories for their research instruments. The replacement cost for a 16-inch Zerodur mirror blank alone, un-figured and un-coated, is $5,600. The mirror is held in the tube by an 18-point floatation cell with brass counterweights. A floating edge-support upgrade is included, but is currently not installed. The secondary mirror is a 20th wave hand-selected blank in a Novak housing and the focuser is a Feathertouch, mounted on a rotatable base, which is ideal for bino-viewers and cameras. The optical tube is fully baffled along its entire length making for extraordinarily high-contrast images. The tube itself if made of very lightweight spruce spars and very thin aircraft plywood. The result is a very light-weight, low mass tube that cools extraordinarily quickly. The tube is held in the fork arms by a sophisticated set of rotating rings with multiple roller bearings for a very light touch when rotating the tube to place the eyepiece into an optimal viewing position. The rings can be locked down, but I never did so as the instrument is so well-balanced that it is unnecessary. The main gear is a 359-tooth 11-inch Byers Gear with a stainless steel worm. An adjustable clutch system maintains tension on the main gear all the time so it is not necessary to engage or disengage the drive system. Digital setting circles and encoders complete the mount.

X-Y Stage for a finder scope. Set up with a Telrad, but it comes with an Orion 6x30 traditional finder with illuminated reticle as well - XY-Stage for a piggy back scope/camera - Vista Drive Corrector for the AC synchronous motors on the drive axis - DC Stepper motors and an AWR Technology DC Drive Corrector for future replacement of the AC synchronous motors for astronomers inclined to make the upgrade for astrophotography - Battery Box with a brand new 12v motorcycle battery. The box was custom built by Anvil Cases and has a trickle-charger built into it - Custom made TeleGizmo cover used to cover the fully assembled mount and lower tube assembly. This made it a simply 5-minute process to attach the upper tube assembly for observation - Avenger trailer fully modified with fixtures to securely hold the telescope in place for transportation to remote, dark-sky, observation sites - Custom modified polar alignment scope with illuminated reticle - Celestron Advanced Astromaster Digital setting circles with 10,000 object base and mounted encoders on both axis. Fully SkyTour ready - Four-leg rolling ladder with spring-loaded wheels and large top platform.

In 2010 the following upgrades were custom designed and installed. Upgrades conceived by Riddell and completed by Jon Pons in Southern California:

Two new upper tube sections to replace the single upper tube section. This was done to slightly shorten the tube to make balance more dynamic for heavier cameras at the eyepiece, but it was primarily done to give the scope a 3-vane spider to essentially eliminate all diffraction spikes - Brand new, but uninstalled 3-vane spider custom build for this scope. Includes heat sinks to draw heat from the spider outside the tube - Base re-design to significantly upgrade the rigidity of the scope for observatory application. A new base plate was designed and machined for easy attachment to a permanent pier. It is pictured seated immediately on top of the large plate bolted directly to the portable legs - Dynamic edge support upgrade for the mirror cell which already have an 18-point flotation cell. This upgrade remains uninstalled.

More Information
Obviously, this scope cannot be easily shipped. I would propose to meet the buyer halfway between Los Angeles and their location. The buyer can then hitch the trailer to his or her vehicle and take this beautiful and unique scope home. Check out the video I made about the Light Speed on my Vimeo site:


If you are in the Southern California area, I am happy to host a prospective buyer to my home in Ojai for a night of observing with the Light Speed. I would want to spend some time with the new owner to go through the scope systems in detail as I have learned a lot about scope over the years and want to make sure the new benefits from that knowledge.

While I have over $35k invested in this legendary and highly optimized telescope scope, I very much want to find a good home for it. I many ways, this is the most important factor for me with a sale. I would encourage interested parties to not be put off by the “asking price.” I had to list a price for this ad and while I do believe it is worth every bit of this amount and more, for the right individual or institution I will be very negotiable. If you have an interest in this incredible instrument, I would encourage you to make an offer and begin a conversation. For a non-profit of any kind, I would consider a partial donation.


  • Condition Excellent
  • Location Ojai

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