NO MORE TELESCOPES!? And I thought I was doing so well. I let three go this past Spring! But guess what? They're back! Not the same three, but as of a new addition day before yesterday, three more now this year! I am back to where I started in January. I can't fault myself entirely. The little 50mm tat came my way several months ago was quite by surprise when an an anonymous bestowed it upon me in an act of unsolicited generosity. I didn't have a classic 50mm and that little Tower is so fine, it has taken up a permanent position in my collection. I must confess though, I am quite guilty of the other two. The jury is still out on just how long the big 10" SCT will stay (I am quite fickle about most scopes that contain a primary mirror, and all three of my Maks and the other SCT- a vintage orange tube C8.); but on the other hand, as you all know, I have a particular weakness for long, classic refractors. At any rate, on with the story.
The day before yesterday was a dank and dreary, gray, rainy day. The monotony of the weather though was broken that afternoon when a rather strange little man knocked on my front door. The fellow bore a remarkable resemblance to Peter Lorre. He was dark, short, rather mysterious looking. He wore a somewhat rumpled, charcoal gray, three-piece, pinstripe suit. After determining my name, he bid me hello and then explained that his name was Mr. Moto, and that he was a detective. He removed a cigarette from a gold case in the pocket of his waistcoat and a long cigarette holder from the breast-pocket of his suit jacket. He then asked if he could smoke, and I indicated that it was no problem as long as we remained on the front porch. He then took out a vintage Zippo lighter, (I knew that it was a Zippo by the distinctive ring of its metal top) and he lit his cigarette immediately from one single quick turn of the flint. He then asked me if I was a betting woman and if I wished to wager that he could light his cigarette lighter ten consecutive times without failure. Then he told me that if he could not, he would give me a vintage 8" equatorial refractor whose maker rhymed with his name. Otherwise, if the lighter did light each time, I would allow him to cut off my left pinky finger so that he could add that to his collection. While the vision of such a magnificent telescope did hover long and large in my imagination, I didn't linger long in making my decision. I flatly declined his offer, as I am even more fond of my pinky finger than I am of classy, huge, refractors. Besides, I was well aware of the outcome of a certain Alfred Hitchcock episode.
He then pointed to a box that was sitting on the tiled floor of my front porch. He said that it too contained a telescope that rhymed with his name. He added that he thought I would enjoy adding it to my collection, and acknowledging his excellent skills as a private investigator, he admitted that he had discovered that during one of his investigations, he had discovered that I was already in possession of another telescope by the same maker, and that he was sure that I would like this one. He then offered another bet. He said that he would ask me short series of five questions, and if I answered them correctly, the telescope was mine. If not, he would be allowed to cut a lock of my hair, equal in length to the aperture of the telescope and keep that as a souvenir of his visit. Given the size of the box, I thought, what could I loose really? I have plenty of shoulder length hair and it grows quite quickly. To I told him I was interested in proceeding. He then explained that the questions would be progressive, that I had to answer each one correctly, in correct order. I agreed to the proposition.
The first question he asked me: "What does a man named Bradbury have to do with literature?" I responded, "He is a famous author of science fiction."
He then asked me, "What does his name have to do with a certain eccentric Serbian scientist of the last century?" I replied that his first name was Ray! (Everyone knows that Tesla was said to be trying to create a particle-beam weapon, known as a "death ray".)
"Very good" he said. Then he asked, "What sound do you hear when you hear when you think of Ray Bradbury's name?" "FIRE ENGINES!" I shouted excitedly. "FIRE ENGINES WITH SIRENS BLARING!"
He grimaced. Obviously, he was now thinking that his game might be a bit tougher than he had first thought. "Next question" he said. "What is the ignition point of common paper?" I immediately blurted out "233 degrees Celsius!" A noticed a slight smirk on his face. I think he thought he had me. I could see the top of a pair of gleaming silver scissors protruding from the same pocket that had held the cigarette holder. He took out a small black, leather-bound book printed in quarto from his lower right coat pocket. I noticed on its spine to read, "Dictionary and Tables of Common Scientific Terms and Data." He took the golden pince-nez that dangled around his neck and placed the spectacles on his nose. He then thumbed through the little book to a particular page, his right index finger slid down a column to a particular figure. He grunted and gave a frown. "Very well" he said. "But this next and last question, you must answer immediately! No fair calculation the answer in your mind." I agreed.
Last question, (he smiled smugly) "And what does that temperature equate to in Farenheit?" I quietly whispered in his ear "451".
To that, he frowned and turned on the well-worn leather heel of his right shoe. "The telescope is yours," he shrugged, "Just open the box carefully." And before I could issue a salutary remark, the inscrutable Mr. Moto had vanished into the mist to that rainy late afternoon.
Well, as it turns out, the telescope is pretty cool. I had to go out of town yesterday, but as promised, pictures of Mr. Moto's telescope will now be posted.
Edited by terraclarke, 02 July 2015 - 06:42 PM.