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Once Upon a Time in Happy Valley

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#1 Tom Dugan

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 01:37 PM

Graduates 2
 

Five of the nine graduating seniors from the Penn State Department of Astronomy at the end of finals in May of '76. (Six, including the photographer, who might be along here shortly). They're in the rolloff observatory atop Buckhout Lab with the 6" brass refractor they rescued and restored during the school years 1973-75.

 

The spot where the observatory was is now full of air conditioning equipment. The scope was moved to a new club observatory for a number of years, but as far as I can tell, no one knows its current whereabouts.

 

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi and all that, but crap, I was club president and led that restoration and I want to know where it is. That's me in the yellow tee shirt at the finder.


Edited by Tom Dugan, 23 June 2019 - 01:39 PM.

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#2 ShaulaB

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 02:04 PM

Would a "Wanted" ad in the CN and AM classifieds be an option? I am not very familiar with Craig's List. Do they have "Wanted" posts as well? The instrument may have been taken by a PSU alum to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, or Erie or any of a hundred places elsewhere in PA. Maybe it's been in somebody's basement for decades.

 

I will look out for it in my patch of fly-over country. It makes me sad that this scope vanished. Full disclosure: My husband and I got our undergraduate degrees at Penn State. We still don't know the G@& D@#% words.


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#3 Tom Dugan

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 02:18 PM

 We still don't know the G@& D@#% words.

That's OK - they changed 'em! I never did either.

 

I'm newly retired and one of the worst scenarios I imagine is someone offering it for sale at a price way above what I'd be able to pay. And let's face it, a 6" solid brass refractor? 

 

I finally got the hardware to digitize slides, so I thought I'd throw these out there. Here's another one, of yours truly at the tailpiece of yet another scope that may or may not be missing. I haven't asked the Department, but I'm pretty sure it's no longer mounted and ready to use.

 

A hirsute astronomer Ca 1975

 

A 6" Unitron, fully loaded


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#4 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 02:40 PM

I think in large institutions, things go into storage somewhere, and are eventually thrown out or stolen.  Accountability is lost after those interested in preservation move on or retire.


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#5 Peter B

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 02:50 PM

Is that Howard Wolowitz in the first picture with his hand on the mount?wink.gif


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#6 Tom Dugan

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 02:55 PM

Is that Howard Wolowitz in the first picture with his hand on the mount?wink.gif

Nope! I don't know a Howard Wolowitz, Peter.



#7 starman876

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 03:14 PM

a 6" unitron would be of interest to the Unitron History website.


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#8 JGass

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 03:45 PM

Is that Howard Wolowitz in the first picture with his hand on the mount?wink.gif



#9 JGass

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 03:47 PM

Nah Wolowitz was a fictional aerospace engineer.
That guy in the photo became a nuclear safety engineer.

#10 JGass

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 03:51 PM

OP, do you have any photos of the blue C16?
That might qualify as a classic, as the only ones I see in a search are white.
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#11 Tom Dugan

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 04:03 PM

OP, do you have any photos of the blue C16?
That might qualify as a classic, as the only ones I see in a search are white.

Well that's interesting. Did not know that.

 

Here's the only one you took that I have. All of these are Jim's, as I have NO IDEA where my own pictures are.

 

Celestron 16 with plateholder
 
Note the 5X7 film holder. Another bit of ancient technology.

 


Edited by Tom Dugan, 23 June 2019 - 04:06 PM.

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#12 Tom Dugan

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 04:05 PM

a 6" unitron would be of interest to the Unitron History website.

Here are the only other pics of the Unitron that I have:

 

Unitron 6 tailpiece
Unitron 6 profile

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#13 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 23 June 2019 - 06:21 PM

That Unitron is worth a lot!  Huge expensive mount also.  I hope it was put to good use.  A lot of very expensive, fine things are trashed by universities.



#14 crhrwc

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 04:16 PM

Tom, what's the history of the scope? Where did you find it?



#15 Piaget

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 04:47 PM

Excellent thread , pictures & stories. Thanks for bumping it up. Really enjoyed it. Piaget



#16 CHASLX200

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 04:56 PM

I think in large institutions, things go into storage somewhere, and are eventually thrown out or stolen.  Accountability is lost after those interested in preservation move on or retire.

I agree. I know at USF they had a M160 Unitron that just sat around for years in the late 70's and early 80's. I sure wanted to buy it but they said it was too much red tape to deal with.


Edited by CHASLX200, 26 July 2020 - 04:57 PM.


#17 CHASLX200

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Posted 26 July 2020 - 04:57 PM

That Unitron is worth a lot!  Huge expensive mount also.  I hope it was put to good use.  A lot of very expensive, fine things are trashed by universities.

It would go for around 100k today if near mint.
 



#18 Ben Bajorek

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Posted 27 July 2020 - 05:55 AM

The rooftop brass 6" telescope has many of the features of a Mogey telescope, both in the OTA and the mounting.   Likely somebody in the ATS knows it's current whereabouts.  



#19 combatdad

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Posted 27 July 2020 - 08:00 AM

a 6" unitron would be of interest to the Unitron History website.

Certainly would! Unfortunately I have discovered other universities that had 6 inch Unitron's...which have no record of disposition.

 

Dave



#20 Tom Dugan

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Posted 27 July 2020 - 09:26 AM

Well! Looks like I should check my olde threads more often.

 

When we founded the PS Astro Club in '73, we naturally started wondering what equipment the department had that we might be allowed to use. Someone - possibly me - asked about the two apparently abandoned domes at the edge of a parking lot just downhill from the CompSci Bldg (which I don't think is there anymore). One of them was empty, the other still had that brass 6", hanging unbalanced, open tailpiece to the dome, for however many years. Absolutely cruddy with dirt and corrosion to the brass. Thus began the club's renovation to what you see in the pic. The domes were demolished the next year for the Eisenhower Auditorium parking lot, so we were granted permission to move it to another abandoned observatory on the roof of Buckhout Lab, shown in the pic. That abandoned observatory had parts for 2 or 3 Springfield mounts. My recollection is that we found some newspaper article from the 30s(?) about observing with 10" Newtonians on those mounts. Who knows where they ended up.

 

BTW, sometime well after we graduated, the PSAC website started referring to it as a Mogey, so maybe they found documentation. I don't know. They don't refer to it at all anymore.

 

All of that to illustrate how big institutions abandon unwanted objects and spaces as they advance. Your tuition dollars at work.

 

And I have no further data on the Unitron or Celestron.


Edited by Tom Dugan, 27 July 2020 - 09:28 AM.

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#21 crhrwc

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Posted 27 July 2020 - 03:43 PM

Tom you did the club a great service by restoring that scope and I'm glad I now have the chance to thank you. I spent many happy hours using this scope when I was a club officer in the late 80's.


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#22 Tom Dugan

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Posted 27 July 2020 - 06:03 PM

Tom you did the club a great service by restoring that scope and I'm glad I now have the chance to thank you. I spent many happy hours using this scope when I was a club officer in the late 80's.

Thanks! That's very kind of you to say.

 

It was sweet, wasn't it? It was too bad we didn't have the resources to remount her on a stiffer equatorial, but she soldiered on.


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#23 RichA

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Posted 27 July 2020 - 06:32 PM

I think in large institutions, things go into storage somewhere, and are eventually thrown out or stolen.  Accountability is lost after those interested in preservation move on or retire.

Stolen is the key.  You have NO idea how many students and professors who "know" about something get their paws on it.  I've seen entire rooms full of equipment basically disappear.  The head people really don't care, if they are told it's no longer needed, they just need to get rid of it.  Normally, an administrative department would be told to sell it off, but 1/2 is gone by the time they do  that.



#24 Ben Bajorek

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Posted 27 July 2020 - 06:38 PM

 

BTW, sometime well after we graduated, the PSAC website started referring to it as a Mogey, so maybe they found documentation. I don't know. They don't refer to it at all anymore.

 

All of that to illustrate how big institutions abandon unwanted objects and spaces as they advance. Your tuition dollars at work.

 

I talked with Bart Fried from the Antique Telescope Society this evening about the 6" Mogey.  He told me the School still has the telescope, it's in a storage closet in one of the lab buildings.  Maybe one day in the future some students will discover it and start an astronomy club, kind of like "Groundhog Day".



#25 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 27 July 2020 - 07:06 PM

The university here once had a 16 inch cassegrain in a 16 foot ash dome on a hilltop about 5 air miles from campus.  As far as I know, both scope and dome were sold as scrap, after the department that controlled it lost interest.  I was watching that dome, to see when or if it would be sold, had personal interest, and one day it was just gone.  I don't really know how it came to happen.  I think the university sold the property to an individual when the obligation to the original donor ran out.   What a crying shame for something like that to be just scrapped for a couple hundred bucks.......

 

Big institutions simply don't care.  When the original project managers/interested parties retire or die, the projects get almost literally thrown in the dumpster.




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