My first telescope was actually a toy pirates spyglass that I picked up around the age of 9 as a souvenir on a family vacation. After a week or two it occurred to me to point the thing at the Moon, whereupon The Great Dawning occurred, “Oh. I need a real telescope!” Fast forward a few years, I was embedded in the Gilbert and small Tasco equipment stages, trying to find Messier objects. Our local astronomy club would give you a Messier observing certificate, if you found all of them. Despite living only about 10 miles from the nation’s Capital the skies were fairly dark, certainly good enough to find many of the brighter DSOs. However, several times a year I was fortunate to go camping with my Grandfather to an even darker observing site in the Virginia mountains. Sometimes several of my young Astro friends accompanied us and we relished the experience of viewing under very dark skies. We nailed the Messiers.
I was browsing in a drug store one afternoon and came upon a paperback book entitled “How to make a telescope” by Jean Texereau. Can you imagine finding such a book in a drug store today! This was a reflection of the times when public interest in space was at a high level. Despite never really having made anything before, I was motivated to try my hand. I remember when RFK was shot, I was in the basement with the AM radio turned on, working on a 6-inch mirror. That mirror project eventually stalled when I had trouble making a pitch lap. And no one to ask for advice.
In my mid teens, and capable of earning some money, I placed an order for an RV-6. It took over six months to arrive, and I remember my Dad and I had to drive to pick it up in Baltimore. No UPS back then! When the scope was finally mine what an intoxicating time! The optics were actually good, it had enough aperture to resolve some globular clusters, it tracked! This euphoria lasted for about two years until I went to college and almost forgot about astronomy, focusing instead on schoolwork and (mainly) girls. The RV-6 was still my primary instrument for the East Coast total solar eclipse in Spring 1970. I even took a few photos with it. The notion of making an even larger scope would take root a few years later, but that is a story for another time.
And so ended the ‘60s.
Edited by Mirzam, 26 November 2018 - 07:52 AM.