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Another Mystery Telescope

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#1 William Whitaker

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 02:49 PM

I purchased this on Ebay some 20+ years ago. It looks to be a military refugee, perhaps part of a tracking scope or theodolite. But God knows what, if it's military! My shipping scale shows 32.6 pounds, so it's quite hefty. I don't really see it in an airborne application, but could be.

 

The truss tube is impressive as is the welding that holds it together. Mostly non-ferrous (Aluminum?), but with some ferrous bits, judging from my magnet. Overall length is 27 inches. The primary mirror diameter is about 9 inches. I have no idea what the optical design is. Of course, it looks to be a Cassegrain design of some sort. But who's to tell from merely looking at it? I have no way to determine the optical curves, so have left it completely alone since I purchased it. In fact, the telescope as seen in these photos remains exactly as I received it from the Ebay seller, whose name I do not recall and have no record of. Was it you??

 

I'm not sure just what to do with it. I think the first order of business would be to establish what the optical profiles are before making any changes to it. If it is a Cassegrain, I have little way to test or re-figure the optics. The primary, maybe. The secondary, certainly not. New optics might be a possibility. But I want to be certain of what steps I take.

 

To be honest, at 27 inches tall and given the weight, it would make a fine end table. But still, the truss tube alone deserves to be resurrected as a telescope. Already I can see how it might be modified into a Newtonian RFT.

(Do I hear gasps of dismay??)

 

Therefore, I wish to poll the wisdom and the sensibilities of the forum populus. Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

 

 
mystery 1
 
mystery 9
For scale the table is 30" diameter.
 
mystery 2
 
mystery 3

 

mystery 4

 

mystery 5
This is the primary mirror dust cover. Interesting that the tube is  threaded to secure it against the primary.

 

mystery 6

 

mystery 7

 

mystery 8
Looking from the "eyepiece" end.

 

mystery 10
One of the mounting flanges.

 

mystery 11
The three vane spider is massive. And the secondary adjustments are considerable and interesting.

 

mystery 12

 

mystery 13

Edited by William Whitaker, 05 December 2021 - 02:56 PM.

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#2 Astrojensen

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 03:11 PM

That's not a telescope, but parts of the Tesla death ray they were experimenting with in White Sands in the 1950'ies. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark

 

PS: wink.gif


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#3 Stevegeo

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 03:17 PM

Looks worth restoring , a teardown of the optics , a blast to strip the paint, then a recoat reassemble would bring this unknown into a beauty .. 

I'm surprised if it's not military  there isnt a few tag somewhere . 

May be it's a custom, one off .. which if you can get it to work , or look like new would definitely  be worth the effort . Stevegeo 


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#4 Stellar1

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 04:02 PM

What the! that screams “made in Russia” to me, looks like something an anti aircraft system would use for acquiring targets or something I dunno.



#5 William Whitaker

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 04:04 PM

Stevegeo,

I wholeheartedly agree that it is worth restoring. No markings to indicate the maker, etc. There are some cast-in numbers which may refer to a contract number. But I don't know where to begin with that. When the weather clears in a couple of days I'll try to get outside and get a close-up of those numbers.


Edited by William Whitaker, 05 December 2021 - 04:07 PM.

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#6 William Whitaker

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 04:10 PM

That's not a telescope, but parts of the Tesla death ray they were experimenting with in White Sands in the 1950'ies. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark

 

PS: wink.gif

Please email me the rest of the plans. My neighbor's dogs are driving me NUTZ!!


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#7 rhaskins

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 04:19 PM

My guess: because of the beefy construction and the mounting tabs, it is a down-range or in-air spotter scope for tracking. It would have sat in a powered gimbal using video capture at the eyepiece end. Up to the 80's the video components would have been expensive and heavy. I acquired a high quality camera TUBE only during that timeframe, for work, for about $10k in 70's dollars and it was B/W and highly sensitive. It could literally see in the dark.

 

Either civilian or military. Rocketry or aircraft. With all the cast parts, which would be expensive in low volume manufacturing, it is probably military.

 

Rick


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#8 STHRNX

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 04:31 PM

Perhaps the instrument flew on an SR-71 or a U2.



#9 William Whitaker

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 08:28 PM

mystery 7

 

This is where the Eludium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator is loaded, I think.


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#10 Mike McShan

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Posted 06 December 2021 - 11:05 AM

I'm sure that you will need an interocitor, too... smile.gif


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#11 Jarno

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Posted 06 December 2021 - 12:35 PM

I may have seen something like that before. I think it goes here:

Death Star.jpg

 

grin.gif

 

But kidding aside, I think Rick is on to something. The heavy construction clearly indicates that it had to hold collimation well, so accuracy was the most important thing. If it's aluminum it won't have been exposed to large temperature swings because aluminum expands and contracts too much, so spy planes can be ruled out. It's open construction would be less than ideal for mobile or naval applications so a ground-based stationary application would also be my guess.

 

Jarno


Edited by Jarno, 06 December 2021 - 12:43 PM.

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#12 MJB87

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Posted 06 December 2021 - 03:31 PM

I note that the color of the telescope -- sort of a desert sand -- may hold a clue. Why would anyone use that color unless it was intended to minimize detection. Could this have been part of a vehicle-mounted IR/EO system?



#13 William Whitaker

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Posted 06 December 2021 - 10:16 PM

I'm sure that you will need an interocitor, too... smile.gif

 So, the point being, if I can figure this thing out, then I get to go be a slave to an alien race??


Edited by William Whitaker, 06 December 2021 - 10:16 PM.

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#14 William Whitaker

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Posted 06 December 2021 - 10:28 PM

I may have seen something like that before. I think it goes here:

attachicon.gifDeath Star.jpg

 

grin.gif

 

But kidding aside, I think Rick is on to something. The heavy construction clearly indicates that it had to hold collimation well, so accuracy was the most important thing. If it's aluminum it won't have been exposed to large temperature swings because aluminum expands and contracts too much, so spy planes can be ruled out. It's open construction would be less than ideal for mobile or naval applications so a ground-based stationary application would also be my guess.

 

Jarno

I'm not certain of the metallic composition, only to say that I have a very strong magnet attached to the back of a carbide scribe. When I tested for attraction, for most of the surfaces the magnet had no attraction, whereas for others it had a very strong and pronounced attraction. Not a conclusive test by any means. But given the overall weight and its distribution, led me to believe that the non-attractive metal was probably aluminum and the attractive parts probably steel. A SWAG at best...


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#15 RichA

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 12:37 AM

I purchased this on Ebay some 20+ years ago. It looks to be a military refugee, perhaps part of a tracking scope or theodolite. But God knows what, if it's military! My shipping scale shows 32.6 pounds, so it's quite hefty. I don't really see it in an airborne application, but could be.

 

The truss tube is impressive as is the welding that holds it together. Mostly non-ferrous (Aluminum?), but with some ferrous bits, judging from my magnet. Overall length is 27 inches. The primary mirror diameter is about 9 inches. I have no idea what the optical design is. Of course, it looks to be a Cassegrain design of some sort. But who's to tell from merely looking at it? I have no way to determine the optical curves, so have left it completely alone since I purchased it. In fact, the telescope as seen in these photos remains exactly as I received it from the Ebay seller, whose name I do not recall and have no record of. Was it you??

 

I'm not sure just what to do with it. I think the first order of business would be to establish what the optical profiles are before making any changes to it. If it is a Cassegrain, I have little way to test or re-figure the optics. The primary, maybe. The secondary, certainly not. New optics might be a possibility. But I want to be certain of what steps I take.

 

To be honest, at 27 inches tall and given the weight, it would make a fine end table. But still, the truss tube alone deserves to be resurrected as a telescope. Already I can see how it might be modified into a Newtonian RFT.

(Do I hear gasps of dismay??)

 

Therefore, I wish to poll the wisdom and the sensibilities of the forum populus. Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

 

 
 
 
 
For scale the table is 30" diameter.
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
This is the primary mirror dust cover. Interesting that the tube is  threaded to secure it against the primary.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Looking from the "eyepiece" end.

 

 
One of the mounting flanges.

 

 
The three vane spider is massive. And the secondary adjustments are considerable and interesting.

 

 

 

Even if it wasn't used as a telescope, refinished it would make great art!



#16 rhaskins

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 07:04 AM

Use it for outreach events! Who's going to bust that thing?

 

(I guess under the theory that building better mousetraps means mice are being built better, ya never know who will show up at an outreach ...)

 

Rick


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#17 luxo II

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 07:15 AM

Could make a great piece of steampunk …
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#18 William Whitaker

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 02:33 PM

Sunshine today. And I got a couple of pictures of the markings on this telescope.

These are cast into the rear plate, fwiw.

 

mystery 14 markings
 
mystery 15 markings
 
Possibly a contract number?

 

 

It seems to me that if restoration were to be undertaken, that removing the optics would need to happen. But before that happens, it might be interesting to devise a test stand. I do have a 10" optical flat, so perhaps a null test of some sort might be devised. But I don't know where to begin with that! As I noted earlier, I've had this piece for just over 20 years. And who knows what it was exposed to before that?...

The primary is dusty and a bit dirty. But it has benefitted from the screw-in cover plate, so is not really too bad and certainly shows no damage to the unaided eye. 

The secondary is tucked up well into the shroud that is part of its mounting, so I think has been fairly well protected. The truss structure is very protective, too. The dimensions of the gaps don't allow hands as big as mine to extend into the cage enough to even get close to the secondary optical surface.

But before I get to the point of removing any of the optices, I'd really like to do some sort of optical testing. And again it seems a test stand employing my flat might be the way to go. Perhaps a Ronchi test?

I realize this may be getting a bit outside of the general forum and perhaps belongs on the ATM forum. But rather than reposting the entire thing, for the sake of bandwidth, perhaps the moderators might consider simply moving it to ATM. I had posted it under general equipment discussions because I didn't know which way it might take off.

Again, if anyone is knowledgeable with testing, I'd love to hear from you, either via the forum or privately.

Cleaned up, tuned up and painted, this might actually prove to be a handsome telescope.

Thanks!

Will

 


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#19 Linn

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 08:06 PM

You might PM DAVIDG who hangs out on the Classics forum for advice. He is very knowledgeable on optics design and testing.


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#20 Sarkikos

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 09:12 PM

Not Russian.  Those aren't Cyrillic characters.

 

Mike


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#21 MJB87

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Posted 07 December 2021 - 10:45 PM

Moving to Classic Telescopes forum...



#22 Kasmos

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 01:15 AM

I highly doubt it was in a spy plane or for desert warfare (looks off white anyway), Rocket or missle tracking seems more likely.

 

Something like this:

 

https://curious-droi...uttle-launches/

 

The scope in minute 3:06 looks similar.

It's a quick shot down the scope and I believe the giant binoculars are to guide the camera which is connected to the telescope.

 

 


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#23 Paul Sweeney

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 06:20 AM

In the first episode of I Dream of Jeannie, they show a guy tracking the launched rocket with a Cassegrain type scope with manual controls.

If this is a military scope, you can expect top quality optics. Is there a baffle tube that screws in after unscrewing the mirror cover?

As mentioned above, the castings suggest that there were more than one of these built. Machining the pieces would have been cheaper, welding much cheaper. You wouldn't
go through the expense of castings for a small number of pieces. So there were probably a number of these made because the military had numerous missile launch facilities and each launch would be tracked/filmed from numerous angles and locations. So there must be more of these scopes floating around out there.

Edited by Paul Sweeney, 08 December 2021 - 06:24 AM.


#24 Senex Bibax

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 09:38 AM

Reminds me of an article I picked up a couple of years ago, though much bigger. At first glance, mine looks like a catadioptic / Newtonian reflector, about 10 cm in diameter and maybe 30 cm long. It has a primary mirror with some sort of collimating / focusing mechanism under the mirror cell, a glass window of unknown curvature in the aperture, and a beam splitter where you would expect to find the secondary mirror. There is only a hole where the focuser would normally be. There are very few markings of any kind.

 

I had Focus Scientific take a look at it, and they concluded from the curvature of the primary that is was probably not an astronomical instrument. On further research, it resembles (but not exactly) the optical component of an AGA Model 6 geodimeter.

4" military surplus reflector
Looking down the tube


#25 Tom Stock

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Posted 08 December 2021 - 10:03 AM

541679main_tracking.jpg

 

looks to me like an old nasa tracking camera

https://www.nasa.gov...in_tracking.jpg

 

EDIT: Upon further research I found these scopes appear to be schmidt cassegrains, so probably not your scope which may just be an earlier version before the schmidt cassegrain became common?


Edited by Tom Stock, 08 December 2021 - 01:08 PM.

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