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12" Clarence P Custer reflector

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#1 starcruiser

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 08:05 PM

Many of you are familiar with this photo from the Sky Observer's Guide. Homemade 12" reflector by Clarence P Custer, MD. Did anyone here know him? What happened to this massive telescope?

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#2 Geo31

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 08:42 PM

There has been multiple discussions before.  A search will turn up more than my little monkey brain can remember, but IIRC, the scope was basically scrapped or parted out.  There is a thread around here somewhere that even shows where Dr. Custer lived and discusses where the scope was located.



#3 John Miele

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 09:00 PM

I love this picture and I loved that book. I begged my parents to buy me the Sky Observer's Guide during a school book fair during my 4th grade in 1971. That book is what triggered my life long astronomy interest. I still have my original beat up copy...it's priceless (to me)!


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#4 starcruiser

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 10:16 PM

There has been multiple discussions before.  A search will turn up more than my little monkey brain can remember, but IIRC, the scope was basically scrapped or parted out.  There is a thread around here somewhere that even shows where Dr. Custer lived and discusses where the scope was located.

Thanks, I just did a search and I learned a few things...

 

1. He built it in the late 1940s (much earlier than I thought) in Stockton, Calif.

2. It's on a Springfield mount. A design I've never heard of it until just now. All this time I thought that's the main eyepiece he's looking through in the photo.

3. It was on the cover of S&T magazine in 1950.

4. It was eventually dismantled.

 

It's sad that it's no more. It should have been in a museum. It inspired countless amateurs for many years.

 

Now I want to know how many telescopes did Dr. Custer build in his lifetime and what happened to all of them. I'm just curious.


Edited by starcruiser, 15 July 2018 - 10:25 PM.

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#5 starcruiser

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 10:22 PM

I love this picture and I loved that book. I begged my parents to buy me the Sky Observer's Guide during a school book fair during my 4th grade in 1971. That book is what triggered my life long astronomy interest. I still have my original beat up copy...it's priceless (to me)!

Same here! You're lucky you still have your original copy. I don't remember what happened to mine. I can't imagine that I threw it away.



#6 BrooksObs

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 11:02 PM

Starcruiser, I'm quite sure that Custer's 12" scope didn't appear on the cover of S&T in 1950 because I recall the cover very well, but I didn't start getting S&T until 1957. So the magazine's date must be after that, perhaps around circa 1960.

 

As I recall, Custer is looking through the telescope's guiding eyepiece. The normal observing eyepiece can be vaguely identified pointing roughly 35-degrees skyward from the scopes mount opposite from the side on which Custer is standing.

 

The Springfield mount was named for Springfield, VT, home of Stellafane and the Springfield Telescope Makers club that the mount's designer also helped to found. The creation of Russell Porter, the sophisticated castings of which the mount was composed allowed the eyepiece to remain fixed at all times, no matter in which portion of the sky the telescope was directed to. The mount's slow motion controls and  setting circles were directly in front of the observer as well, making pointing the scope child's play without need for a finder, or even looking around (most experienced observers knew how to properly used circles for aiming their scope back in the day). Another beauty of this mount's design was that it allowed the observer to always be in a sitting position while observing - note the skeleton of a chair attached to the pier of Custer's scope.

 

The mount's one great drawback is that the light path required a series both mirrors and prisms to bring the light to the eyepiece, which decades ago resulted in a significant light loss.

 

BrooksObs



#7 BarabinoSr

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Posted 15 July 2018 - 11:04 PM

I was able to locate and purchase a copy of the Guide on Amazon  a few years ago, as it was one of my favorite books as a youngster.Love the colorful illustrations and old school pictures This one is from the third printing circa 1964, and in very good condition.Going through the book now as I write this. By the way Dr Custer's Springfield designed telescope was a marvelous and well built instrument. Gcool.gif



#8 coopman

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 07:46 AM

Same here regarding the "Sky Observer's Guide".  It's the book that got me started in this hobby. 



#9 tim53

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 09:28 AM

We talked a bit about Custer’s Springfield on my thread here:  https://www.cloudyni...ingfield tim53

 

Porter’s original Springfield is still at Stellafane, as are some of the original castings, patterns, and prototypes at the Hartness House museum.  Another 12” Springfield, built by J.W.Simpson, allegedly with help from Porter (it does look like Porteresque castings were used) is also at Hartness House.  It was in my possession for a few years, until I realized what it would take to house it.  I had also learned of the fate of Custer’s scope around that time, which is why I decided to donate it to Stellafane.  The Smithsonian had inquired about the Custer scope shortly after it had been dismantled, and I didn’t want the same fate to befall the Simpson.

 

With modern coatings, very little additional light is lost in a Springfield.  It’s basically a Newtonian with a star diagonal.  The secondary needs to be bigger than a standard Newtonian, of course, since the light cone out the side of the tube is longer than for a standard focuser. 

 

-Tim.


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#10 *skyguy*

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 09:33 AM

The Custer 12" scope was featured on the cover of the May 1958 issue:

 

Custer_scope.jpg

 

The construction of his prime-focus camera was detailed on the "Observer's Page" in this issue.

 

The construction of his 12" scope was covered in the "Gleanings for ATM's" section in the January and February 1958 issues.

 

It's amazing that this iconic image of Custer with his scope is still widely recognized by amateur astronomers today!

 

 


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#11 terraclarke

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 12:39 PM

We talked a bit about Custer’s Springfield on my thread here:  https://www.cloudyni...ingfield tim53

 

-Tim.

Here too:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ting/?p=6274150


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#12 Exnihilo

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 12:49 PM

Yup, I remember that one!



#13 photiost

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 01:09 PM

Yes this book is a  classic.

 

Here is what is left from my copy after our Puppy (Lucky) had only a few minutes with it !!

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Edited by photiost, 16 July 2018 - 01:09 PM.


#14 photiost

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Posted 16 July 2018 - 01:11 PM

.

the classic image of Clarence P Custer, MD.

.

 

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