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Unitron History Project

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#51 Astrojensen

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 11:59 AM

I wouldn't call him well known like that, since the only time I've heard of him is through that article.

 

 

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Thomas, Denmark



#52 Tore E

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 12:06 PM

During a motivational visit today to Will Thornton's to pick up some reference material...and to get some additional photos of his Model 530...he pointed out that there was an article in the February 1974 issue of S&T describing an observatory in Norway that had a 5" Unitron.  I checked my electronic copies of S&T and found the reference to the Sky High Observatory built about 40 miles northeast of Olso by a Carsten A. Deberitz. My further research found that he was also known as a member of "The Beatniks" Band...and this reference: "By next year we hope to have the services of Mr Carsten A. Deberitz from Oslo. His 'Sky High Observatory' is well known among the continental fraternity, and is equipped with no less than three Unitron refractors and as many astrographs." Note: Mr Deberitz passed away in 2006.

 

Ok...CNer's...anyone across the pond have any info on this?  I can't find any other references to the Sky High Observatory.

 

Dave

 

I am a Norwegian amateur and a new member to the classic telescope forum. First of all, thank you all for sharing so much of your knowledge and insight, it is an inspiration to read.
You ask about information on the Sky High Observatory in southern Norway. Well, I have a lot of information actually…………. I will try keep it short. This is my first posting, so hopefully it will work.

Carsten Deberitz was on the front page of Sky and Telescope in the February 1974 issue. At that time, I was 15 years old, and the proud owner of a 75mm equatorial Polarex. I had just started subscribing to S&T, and was of course drooling over the picture on the front page. It shows Carsten proudly in front of his observatory with a 5” Polarex.
Then we spool 40 years forward, to February 2014 (strange coincidence). One evening I started thinking about an ad I had seen in the Norwegian astronomy magazine “Astronomi” a year back, announcing the sale of a used late 70s, Unitron 75mm (like the one I grew up with). It was still for sale, and I ended up with that beautiful, ……… delightful white icon :-)

 

Then in May, things started moving. I knew that Carsten had passed away in 2006, and started asking around wanting to know what happened to the 5” and the observatory. Nobody knew anything, but I had an old friend I had not seen for many years, who back in the 70s had an observing platform at the observatory. He did not know anything either, but suggested that we could try to find the observatory. He had not been there for 30 years. The area is not more than 1-2 hours’ drive northeast of Oslo, but is in the deep dark Norwegian forests, so this was a little bit of an Indiana Jones expedition :-). This was in early June. 

The vegetation (and so the landscape) change a lot in 30 years, so my friend was unable to recognize where we should start venturing into the woods. After talking with some old hunters, we got the lead. They had a hunting post they called "observatoriet". We knew where to leave the road, parked there and started walking. It should not be very far from the road, but the vegetation was thick and my friend did not recognize the terrain. After 10min I said out of whim, lets leave the track and go left (another strange coincidence).  And after some walking, …………. viola, there we could see the observatory between the trees.

The building was in bad shape, but it was still standing thanks to the brick walls. We did not know if the telescope was still in the building, and it was impossible to look inn anywhere. Luckily, I had a very small camera with me, and I pressed my hand with the camera inn through openings, and took flash photos. Nothing, totally black, or just bricks. But wait……. In one picture we could see something white… it was the telescope. Still in there!!! With the building and the roof inn such a bad shape, had it survived?

We could of course not break inn……… Well I wrote I was going to make this short. Well fast forward…it turned out that Carstens son and x-wife lived down by the road. My friend recognized her outside the house (still another strange coincidence) when we got down to the car, a hundred meters from where we parked. He had not seen her in 30 years either, but she recognized him. We talked, and she gave us access to the observatory. Back at the observatory, we opened the door, and it was like opening the Tutankhamen tomb. It looked exactly like the S&T article 40 years back. A lot of dust, and dead insects, but it seemed dry.

Well, to shorten down. The observatory had not been in use in 20 to 30 years according to Carstens son. I ended up buing the 5”, and have transported it my house outside Oslo, and the telescope is “restored” back to working order (I think). It is still in my basement, and I have not star-tested it yet. I am a little unsure of the next step, but to me this telescope is the Holy Grail, so I am happy just to have it in the basement (even if my wife do not look at it the same way :-)).  I can sit watching it for hours. Happy!!!


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#53 choran

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 12:45 PM

Wow, that's a great story!  I'm sure folks here would greatly appreciate it if you could post some pictures of the telescope.


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#54 terraclarke

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 01:37 PM

Tore, first things first. Welcome to the Classics Forum. It is so nice to have you as part of our group. Secondly, thank you for posting such an amazing and truly wonderful story. I was imagining everything, line by line as I read each word. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lastly, congratulations on an equally amazing and wonderful find. Wow! A 5 inch Unitron. Very few people have one of those. We all very much look forward to seeing pictures and hearing about your further adventures with this rare instrument.


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#55 Nuphy

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 02:32 PM

Tore, thanks so much for sharing your story and congratulations on the 5". Would love pics, too :)


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#56 Astrojensen

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 03:22 PM

A-mazing story! Finding an abandoned observatory with a 5" Unitron is the kind of thing that most of us can only dream of. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#57 Tore E

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 03:32 PM

Tore, first things first. Welcome to the Classics Forum. It is so nice to have you as part of our group. Secondly, thank you for posting such an amazing and truly wonderful story. I was imagining everything, line by line as I read each word. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lastly, congratulations on an equally amazing and wonderful find. Wow! A 5 inch Unitron. Very few people have one of those. We all very much look forward to seeing pictures and hearing about your further adventures with this rare instrument.

 

Thanks for the kind words Terra. I have been reading on the list for maybe two months now, and I regard you as one of the numero uno members of this fine community :-), so hearing it from you makes me proud :-)

Sometimes I have problems sort of believing my own story. But, then I go down in the basement………… If someone had told me 40 years ago when I looked at S&T, that I would own that beautiful instrument, I would have thought him or her mad :-). It is also a string og strange coincidences that made it happen.

I am also a little proud of what I have achieved so far, because I think it was maybe one or two winters away, before the roof would collapse, and then the instrument would have been destroyed. And that would have been a loss to……………. well history or something. I think we have an obligation to take care of these fine instruments (but I don’t have to tell you that :-)).  

 
I have many pictures, but I have to figure out the best way to post them. Any hints and tips are appreciated.


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#58 terraclarke

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 04:07 PM

Tore, some things are just meant to be, the Goddess smiles and providence reigns. Life is amazing. Your a 5" Unitron proves it. My 4" Unitron came to me through an almost magical brush with kindness and generosity. I never cease to believe in miracles. And thank you for the kind words.  :flowerred:


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#59 kansas skies

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 05:10 PM

Tore, Welcome to CN. That truly is an amazing and wonderful story! In fact, I found it so fascinating that I read it a couple more times. Only one thing bothers me however - how do you get a monster like that out of your basement? :)

 

Bill


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#60 Tore E

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 05:46 PM

Tore, Welcome to CN. That truly is an amazing and wonderful story! In fact, I found it so fascinating that I read it a couple more times. Only one thing bothers me however - how do you get a monster like that out of your basement? :)

 

Bill

 

Thank you Bill! You are right; it is a monster, a beautiful one that is :-). And heavy. We experienced that the hard way when a friend and I carried it from the observatory down to the road for transport to Oslo. Some of the bolts was broken, so we were not able to separate the equatorial head and the pier. So we had to carry it in one piece down to the road. That was one tough call!

The plan short term is separate it into four pieces and set it up outside. If we are two or three people, it is manageable. I have mounted the pier on a 22mm wooden plate 1m square, so it will not topple. When it is ouside, we can star test the optics, and try out the mounting etc.


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#61 combatdad

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 06:56 PM

Tore, just got back from a day long session discussing Unitron Company history with Martin Cohen, Company Seven, and was pleasantly surprised to find your post!  What a significant "barn find" and thanks so much for taking the time to seek out that observatory and recover that treasure.  There are so few of the 5" and 6" Polarex and Unitron scopes in existence it would have been criminal to let one "fade away".  Will Thornton's Model 530 (photo below) and possibly one at the Bosscha Observatory, West Java, Indonesia are the only other two pier mounted known so far.  I would love to include this history on the web-site I'm developing as well as photos.  Would appreciate any photos especially those of the initial find.  You can forward to the email address I'm using for this project: unitronhistory2014@gmail.com.  Thanks.

 

 

Dave

 

 

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#62 combatdad

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 07:31 PM

Has anyone heard the term "Unitron Custom Pro" used in reference to a line of 5,6,8 and 10'' refractors and 8,10 and 12.5" Newtonians?

 

Dave

 

Extraction from a Unitron Dealers Book, dated Feb 1, 1986 on this line of Unitrons will be loaded on the soon to be released Unitron History Web-site.  The scope in the photo is pretty impressive.  

 

Dave

 

Note:  With the permission of Unitron (per Peter Indrigo, Senior Vice President, email dated Sep 2, 2014, 0506 p.m.), all the Unitron Catalogs and Price Sheets will be posted in the near future.


Edited by combatdad, 13 September 2014 - 03:52 PM.

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#63 turk123

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 08:01 PM

Great find and a wonderful story Tore!

 

I am looking forward to seeing your images here on CN.  What condition would you say it is in?  If it has been sitting for many years, it may need a bit of a teardown and cleaning to remove the old grease.  I have a thread here documenting the teardown of a Unitron mount you could follow.  I would be happy to help out if you get stuck!

 

There are not many of those fine instruments.  I'm happy you found one.

 

Turk


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#64 turk123

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 08:18 PM

Hi Dave

 

I finally have some time to scan in my Unitron documents that I acquired recently.  This is a complete sales bundle from around 1985.  I believe most of the glossy pages were created way before that but the "standard" plain paper pages are sales brochures and price lists of what I think is all the products Unitron has ever sold at that time.  It includes binoculars, eyepieces  and a 3" compact newtonian.

 

There are 104 pages that I will provide you with as high quality scans.  If you need the originals for any reason I could ship them to you.

 

The sales packet includes a card inserted in the front (two slots) under the name James J Mullaney.  Manager, Astronomical Instruments. It also has his phone number.

 

The folder says "Excellence in design ™ since 1952"

 

I hope this will help.  I've set up my scanner and feeder and will produce them as PDF.

 

Turk


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#65 combatdad

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 08:31 PM

Thanks, Tom.  Looking forward to the documents.  I'm getting ready to release the web-site.  Martin at Company Seven gave it his ok! Actually he was pretty impressed with it.  :)

 

Dr James J. Mullaney is one of my sources.  I've had several email exchanges with him to date. He was Staff Astronomer for Unitron in the mid-1980's.  He was a contributor for the original Cosmos Series, was Assistant Editor for Sky and Telescope, has published several books, and Star Atlas's including my favorite, the Cambridge Double Star Atlas.  He was my instructor when I was a kid...taught my Observational Astronomy course at the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh, PA.

 

Dave


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#66 combatdad

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 08:43 PM

Spent five very pleasant and informative hours with Martin Cohen and Bill at Company Seven today discussing Unitron Company and its relationship to Nihon Seiko...and my head still hurts.  Obviously much more to come on this topic as the history develops, but the 4 hour return trip through Northern Virginia commuter traffic was too much for one day!

 

Note:  Company Seven will have a new article coming out in a couple of weeks talking about the new 4" f/15 Unitron they added to their collection.  The article will discuss the model number!

 

Dave


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#67 nightpilot

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 10:33 PM

 I ended up buing the 5”, and have transported it my house outside Oslo, and the telescope is “restored” back to working order (I think). It is still in my basement, and I have not star-tested it yet. I am a little unsure of the next step, but to me this telescope is the Holy Grail, so I am happy just to have it in the basement (even if my wife do not look at it the same way :-)).  I can sit watching it for hours. Happy!!!

 

 

Tore ... Great story ... awesome find. I look forward to you hopefully sharing more about this instrument with the group via photos and your impressions.

 

Bob


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#68 Tore E

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 02:49 AM

Tore, just got back from a day long session discussing Unitron Company history with Martin Cohen, Company Seven, and was pleasantly surprised to find your post!  What a significant "barn find" and thanks so much for taking the time to seek out that observatory and recover that treasure.  There are so few of the 5" and 6" Polarex and Unitron scopes in existence it would have been criminal to let one "fade away".  Will Thornton's Model 530 (photo below) and possibly one at the Bosscha Observatory, West Java, Indonesia are the only other two pier mounted known so far.  I would love to include this history on the web-site I'm developing as well as photos.  Would appreciate any photos especially those of the initial find.  You can forward to the email address I'm using for this project: unitronhistory2014@gmail.com.  Thanks.

 

 

Dave

 

Only two?.......wow. I would not expect hundreds of them, but that few (known) pier models is quite unexpected.

 
I would be honored to be included in your web site. I will contact you via the e-mail address, and then we can take it from there.


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#69 Tore E

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 03:16 AM

Great find and a wonderful story Tore!

 

I am looking forward to seeing your images here on CN.  What condition would you say it is in?  If it has been sitting for many years, it may need a bit of a teardown and cleaning to remove the old grease.  I have a thread here documenting the teardown of a Unitron mount you could follow.  I would be happy to help out if you get stuck!

 

There are not many of those fine instruments.  I'm happy you found one.

 

Turk

 

Thank you Turk!

When we went into the observatory, I was very curious about the condition of the scope and mounting. It was not used for 20-30 years, and it was a lot of dirt, dead insects etc in there. But it seemed very dry inside, and (thank God) no spiders (they are not dangerous in Norway, but not my best friends :-). We dismantled it, and transported it to Oslo in two sessions. When I cleaned away the dirt, it looked in very good condition. Not like new, but not very far from it. The biggest concern was the optics. The 5” had a lens cap, but when we took off the tube, it turned out that the lens cap was the one used during stop-down solar observation. So the lens had been open for many years, and looked more dirty than the worst barn window you could imagine :-). But I think a god thing with the open lens cap was that the lens could dry. 20 years of temperature variations between +25 and -30 degrees centigrades can produce a lot moist and fungus. Cleaning the optics turned out to be not too hard (I have some nice pictures of the “before”, “after” and in the middle of the process). It was no fungus between the elements, so it seems OK. All the finders (75mm, 60mm and a 45mm) had les caps, but the 75 have a little fungus between the elements. I have not build up the courage (and I guess I will not) to split and clean the 75mm. 

Regarding the mounting, it seems to move freely and OK. The only thing I have done so far is clean the RA gears and lubricated them. 

Back to pictures :-) I have lots, and have looked around the forum for some description on the best way of posting them. So far, I have found noting. Should I start a tread and post pics in posting, create an album……………. or?


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#70 Tore E

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 03:26 AM

Tore, some things are just meant to be, the Goddess smiles and providence reigns. Life is amazing. Your a 5" Unitron proves it. My 4" Unitron came to me through an almost magical brush with kindness and generosity. I never cease to believe in miracles. And thank you for the kind words.  :flowerred:

 

You are right Terra :-)

Another strange thing also; this scope has been there for 40 years. This summer I bring it back from oblivion. One to two months later, questions regarding its fate pops up on the other side of the planet :-)  I could not actually believe my eyes when I saw the questions. Hmmm.......................let’s not get superstitious here :-)

Have you posted the story regarding your 4” on the forum?


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#71 Tore E

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 03:46 AM

I hope this will work.

This is a pic of the 5". It is actually the first I took. It is thru the door before we went in.

 

CIMG6787 d.JPG


Edited by Tore E, 13 September 2014 - 03:49 AM.

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#72 combatdad

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 04:16 AM

Great photo, Tore. That is amazing after all those years!  I think my heart would have stopped at first sight!   :)

 

Dave


Edited by combatdad, 13 September 2014 - 04:19 AM.


#73 Tore E

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 04:33 AM

Great photo, Tore. That is amazing after all those years!  I think my heart would have stopped at first sight!   :)

 

Dave

Nearly did :D And still do  :)


Edited by Tore E, 13 September 2014 - 04:36 AM.

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#74 combatdad

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 04:41 AM

By the way, as I recall, the original photo in the February 1974 S&T showed an Astrograph on the scope.  Was it found also?

 

Dave



#75 combatdad

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 07:29 AM

 

Tore, some things are just meant to be, the Goddess smiles and providence reigns. Life is amazing. Your a 5" Unitron proves it. My 4" Unitron came to me through an almost magical brush with kindness and generosity. I never cease to believe in miracles. And thank you for the kind words.  :flowerred:

 

You are right Terra :-)

Another strange thing also; this scope has been there for 40 years. This summer I bring it back from oblivion. One to two months later, questions regarding its fate pops up on the other side of the planet :-)  I could not actually believe my eyes when I saw the questions. Hmmm.......................let’s not get superstitious here :-)

Have you posted the story regarding your 4” on the forum?

 

 

This confirms my belief that this project, which I have always viewed as a collective effort, will serve to bring out new information from every source imaginable!  Hopefully, the best is yet to come (always the eternal optimist...)  :)

 

Dave


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