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The first classic telescope you ever saw in person

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#51 nato


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Posted 13 May 2022 - 10:24 PM

      The first classic scope I ever viewed through was the 9 1/2" Clark Refractor located on the roof of the South Physics Building at the University of Utah. I was in the third grade I saw an image of Jupiter that looked marble size. The scope was really a later Clark and  Sons one, it was later replaced with a 16" Ealing Reflector and Sigfried  Jachmann  of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society (since deceased owned it and brought it to viewing events. I have viewed  through many classic scopes, The Lick 36" Refractor, Mount Wilson's two large scopes scopes, The Ealing at the University of Utah was replaced with smaller computerized scopes and is now in use at Stansbury Observatory operated by the Salt Lake Astronomical Society. Nate Goodman (Nato). Salt Lake, Utah. See my gallery for a photo with me as an operator on this scope. 

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#52 Ian King

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Posted 14 May 2022 - 02:48 PM

Back in 1979 when I was sweet 15 and my science teacher at school spent a term teaching Astronomy, which first ignited my interest, there used to be a chain of shops in London and Southern England called Scientific and Technical. Their biggest store was only a few miles away from where I lived and after I convinced my dad to buy me a scope for Christmas we went into the store.


There was a big display of Japanese made long focus refractors that to me at the time seemed enormous and I recall feeling quite intimidated by the size of them. The crowning jewel was the big 76mm refractor which took pride of place on display. It seemed so huge I could not conceive of ever owning and using it.


My dad ended up buying me a Tasco 5VTE Variable power 60mm refractor and that was the first scope I ever looked through. I loved it at the time but out grew it quickly and a year later I had saved up to buy a Carton 60mm F16.7 scope.  At about the same time my best friends dad bought him the 76mm refractor, he quickly fell out of love with astronomy and passed it on to me. 


I just cannot recall what ever happened to the Carton and the 76mm scope, in between leaving home, getting married etc they just kind of fell by the wayside. I know now the 76mm was a Circle K and identical to the Prinz 660 which was sold by the big electronics chain store Dixons. I own a 660 now because it reminds me of the Scientific and Technical scope.

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#53 tim53


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Posted 14 May 2022 - 03:47 PM

History of the scope said it replaced an existing one about 1955.

2" Dec shaft.


Didn't know Meade was up and running then.  Didn't know that Meade made 8 1/2"  piers, either.


Clear Skies.

Cave, and later Parks, made legs like that.  I've had 2 telescopes with those style legs, both Cave.

#54 tim53


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Posted 14 May 2022 - 03:49 PM

The legs kinda looked like the Meade legs with the holes in them. That is the only thing that looks Meade.

Meade's legs were based on Cave legs with the zig-zag gussets.  The prototypes were literrally cave legs with the gussets cut out with a saber saw, and the gussets with the round holes in them made out of particle board and bondo.  Meade legs never had the knobs at the top holding them to the pier.

#55 jgraham



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Posted 14 May 2022 - 07:40 PM

The first classic that I saw in person was an exact replica of a telescope built by Galileo at the Dayton Museum of Natural History. If I recall right it was one of only two built. The Museum no longer exists and has been replaced by the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. I’m not sure if the Galileo scope is still on display or has been placed in storage. Most of the classics that I helped refurb (Astrolas, Lohmans and Optrons) are tucked away in closets, so it wouldn’t surprise me that the Galileo scope it collecting dust somewhere. :(

#56 Exnihilo



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Posted 17 May 2022 - 11:45 AM

Well, my own Tasco 60mm 7te, but at the time it wouldn't have counted as "classic" as it was about 1971.

#57 Rick-T137


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Posted 17 May 2022 - 12:14 PM

My first classic I saw in person was a Questar 3.5 Standard. I had a friend whose uncle passed away and left him this telescope. My friend knew nothing about telescopes, but he knew I did! So, we spent some time together at his cottage where I showed him how to use it. Ultimately, he offered to loan it to me for the summer - which of course I immediately accepted! At that time, I also had a Meade ETX 90/EC, so I found it a terrific opportunity to compare the two scopes directly over that summer. In the end, the optics of the two scopes were quite evenly matched (I'd say the Q was a tad sharper with very similar contrast) and everything else tilted in the Questar's favour. Except, of course, GOTO capability, because the Q didn't have that. But it was a marvel of engineering - basically a work of art! The ETX? It was more like a toy from Hasboro but it still did its job fine.


Questar 3.5 Standard
Source: Astronomics


Clear skies!



Edited by Rick-T137, 17 May 2022 - 12:15 PM.

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#58 Garyth64


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Posted 17 May 2022 - 12:24 PM

The first classic that I saw was a 10" Cave back about 1966.  Mike Manyak took me over to a friend of his home.  The 10" was set up for viewing, and the owner let me use.  I'll never that view of Jupiter, just awesome.  About ten years later, I made my own 10" newt.

#59 WoodyEnd


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Posted 18 May 2022 - 01:10 PM

My first classic was the Edmunds 3" reflector I bought when I was 10.  The next one I saw was the Cave 6" student deluxe I bought when I was 14.

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#60 JoeVanGeaux


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Posted 18 May 2022 - 02:49 PM

The first ever telescope I saw in real life was the one I got for my birthday in 1961... a Tasco 7TE (Royal Astro) that I still have. 

I have sicne acquired two more of the same model.  One, I recently restored totally, then gifted it.  Another that I have is as near new as I've ever seen (the box still has the original plastic excelsior, and cardboard sleeves/padding!.  The previous owner took it out three times (according to his family) and failing to get anyone interested, he packed it away and stored it in the bowels of a closet ever since.  I took it out only once, myself, to see the recent parade of planets we had last year... being it was a special visual treat for me, my family and the young kids of a younger friend!

#61 GreyDay


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Posted 25 June 2022 - 08:01 PM

Asahi Pentax 60x800, My dad brought it home sometime in the mid 70's we had it for a couple of weeks before it got sold on.I remember it being a special treat as i was allowed to stay up after dark.:)

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#62 Avgvstvs


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Posted 25 June 2022 - 08:05 PM

Mine was not a classic but an 8" F7 Newtonian.

I still miss that mirror today.

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#63 Jethro7



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Posted 25 June 2022 - 08:24 PM

Hello grif 678,

Mine was a Edmund Scientific 6" Dynascope Newtonian that my father purchased in 1964.  https://www.google.c...=io8V-JYJ9Zj95M



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#64 petert913


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Posted 25 June 2022 - 08:54 PM

In 1970. It was an Edmund 4.25" Palomar Newtonian.  My friend owned it and I was in awe !  I had a nice Tasco 7TE, but that "big" 4.25" mirror and tube blew me away.

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#65 Exnihilo



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Posted 26 June 2022 - 05:45 PM

Saw: Tasco 7te 60mm F16.6, at age 11.


Owned: Same scope; I had zero experience with scopes prior to this, however at the time, 1971 or so, I'm not sure it was yet a "classic".

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#66 rcwolpert



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Posted 26 June 2022 - 06:24 PM

I still have my Observing Notebook. I had just received my RV-6. Dec. 31, 1964, the sky was excellent with 6th mag stars visible. 1st object was Polaris. Next object was Jupiter with the 18mm, 12.7mm, and 9mm eyepieces. I drew pics of everything- very poor ones, but I’ve got it recorded.

Edited by rcwolpert, 26 June 2022 - 06:55 PM.

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#67 Terra Nova

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Posted 26 June 2022 - 07:42 PM

If I might make an observation. For those of us growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s that received telescopes back then, those telescopes are now well over fifty years old. Those telescopes clearly fall under the definition of classics today. However, this thread asks the question as to what is the first classic telescope we ever saw. While those first telescopes of ours may now be over fifty years old and are definitely classics today, when we received they weren’t classics, they were new! And therein lies the crux of the problem- the conundrum of this thread. It’s couched in ambiguity. They weren’t classics when we first saw them, even tho they are now classics. For me to have seen a classic telescope when I was fifteen in 1965, that telescope would have had to have been made prior to 1940 according to the 25 year rule of this forum. So the Mayflower model 814 that I received new in 1965 could not have been the first classic I ever saw because it wasn’t a classic, it was a new telescope. The same holds for my friend’s grandfather’s Questar, or the 3” F10 Edmund Palomar that belonged to another friend back in 1964. They were only a few years old then. And Bob’s RV-6 he mentioned above too! Classic telescopes are moving targets so to speak. Given that observation, and answering the question in correct temporal context, what was the first classic telescope you ever saw? I guess for me, it would have been the Zeiss at Griffith Observatory which I first saw in 1960 on a school fieldtrip. The Griffith 12.5” Zeiss refractor was ordered in 1931 and the observatory was opened in 1935 so it would have been over thirty years old then and thus a classic when I first saw it. Even the 200” Hale telescope at Mt. Palomar that I visited with my family in the early 1960s was completed in 1949 (and was thus in close approximation of my own age) wasn’t a classic when I first saw it.

Edited by Terra Nova, 27 June 2022 - 06:32 PM.

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#68 steve t

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 07:24 AM

The first classic telescope I recall was back in the early 1970's, it was an ATM 6" F/8 Newtonian built by the same person that helped build my 4" F/8.5 Newtonian.

The first commercial classic was a fully decked Unitron, 5", refractor installed in a school observatory in North Little Rock, AR.

It was just as nice to look at as it was to look through and made quite an impression.

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#69 Tom Stock

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 08:13 AM

First one? A Jason refractor that we used to watch the condo's pool across the water from my uncles house.  We were 12 and there were girls.

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#70 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 08:52 AM


The question is an interesting one for me. I was not an amateur astronomer in my youth.  But I first saw a telescope in 1953 when I was 5 years old. I have quite clear memories though I may have some of the facts wrong.


My father was an oceanographer and things were less formal back then. A Japanese scientist was visiting and he wanted to visit the 200 inch on Mt Palomar. Through his connections my father arranged for a visit and it was a family affair. 


My recollection is the visiting scientist was named Dr. Takahashi but I might have that mixed up with another Japanese scientist who visited.


That was almost 70 years ago and the 200 inch was brand new. Since then, I've visited it many times. Today.. I think it qualifies as a Certified Cloudy Nights Classic.. it needs a plaque right there next to the bronze of Hale. smile.gif


hale 200 inch plaque CN.jpg
palomar Domb 1.jpg

1919066-Palomar mirror.jpg


It's the first telescope I ever saw and it's still the biggest telescope I've ever seen.





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#71 Exnihilo



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Posted 27 June 2022 - 10:29 AM






Probably the first "classic" scope I saw which was a classic at the time I saw it was the 5" refractor at NM State; it dated from the 1890s, unfortunately I don't remember the details about it, and it has since been removed.  That was the scope that was maintained by Clyde Tombaugh, and had handwritten notes from Clyde in the desk with the eyepieces and accessories about how to care for them.

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#72 bjkaras


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Posted 03 July 2022 - 07:02 PM

The first classic scope I ever saw was the 6” f/8 Cave that I bought in 1972.

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#73 silodweller


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Posted 06 July 2022 - 01:12 PM

The first real scope I ever had the privilege of not only seeing in person but actually using for one wonderful evening was a 16 inch Meade Starfinder. It was housed in a shed-type observatory in the backyard of the gentleman my folks would eventually purchase my first telescope from. I was around 13 years of age and was absolutely bowled over by this instrument. My Dad was with me and we spent that evening viewing Saturn together. I will never forget that night. Screenshot_2022-07-06-19-59-47-15_e4424258c8b8649f6e67d283a50a2cbc.jpg

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#74 mfalls


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Posted 06 July 2022 - 03:12 PM

An Edmund 3 inch f/15 refractor I purchased in Little Rock, AR in December of 2015. CN member gelkin had called the seller before me so I contacted him and shipped it to him. His restoration work is top notch. 


Used the scope for a few nights before shipping and the scope performs. Something about the size, excellent optics, balance and ease of use. I have an Edmund 4 inch f/15 refractor now but that 3 inch was sweet.



Edited by mfalls, 06 July 2022 - 03:35 PM.

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#75 Steve C.

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Posted 08 July 2022 - 05:57 PM

The first classic scopes I saw weren't considered classic at the time. One 4" inch Unitron with the weight-driven drive and two Criterion RV-6s.  All of which I had the pleasure of using as a student assistant at the San Antonio College planetarium in 1969. Why, we even got to take the the Dynascopes home with us on occasion.

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