Show Us Your Telescope!

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KurtM
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Show Us Your Telescope!

#1 Post by KurtM » Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:42 am

In another thread I showed a couple detail shots of my telescope to make a point, and then was asked to show pictures of the rest of it. Not wanting to hijack the other thread, and thinking a Show-Us -Your-Telescope thread sounded like fun, here we go...

My 16" f/5 homemade Dobsonian:

Image

And here it is on the equatorial sky tracking platform I built for it:

Image

The heart of this scope is an early mirror by Steve Dodds, who went on to open up Nova Optical and produce telescope mirrors commercially, and which I got seriously lucky to own. Because of the ultra fine figure, I had a custom made fused quartz secondary mirror and spider made, that is the smallest possible while still catching the light cone for minimum secondary obstruction. It excels at high magnification planetary viewing. The ultra open optical tube assembly is specifically designed for the west Texas observing site I have been using for nearly twenty years now, because it is often windy there at night. This scope remains usable long after most others have to shut down due to the jiggles. It is the 10th telescope I have built, and the third EQ platform.
Cheers,
Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
email: ngc704(at)aol(dot)com
https://www.flickr.com/photos/67904872@ ... 912223623/

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lorez
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#2 Post by lorez » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:05 am

Very Nice !

I had an opportunity to use a very similar telescope a few months ago and I'm certainly a convert to the Dobsonian design... even though I do not have a telescope. I thought the teflon slides on the mount were very good. The only difference between your telescope and the one I used was the fabric cover around the skeleton.

lorez

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Crater Eddie
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#3 Post by Crater Eddie » Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:00 am

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Great photos Kurt! You sure did a great job on that scope build!
I guess I'll go next.
This photo is about 6 years old, taken in the old house before we moved out of town, but it's the only one I have of both scopes together. The white one is the first telescope I ever bought, a Meade 8" Newtonian bought in 1983. It came on an EQ mount, but I built this Dobsonian mount for it several years ago as the clock drive had failed many years prior. I had the mirrors re-coated two years ago, and she's as good as new.
The black scope is a Celestron Ultima 11, built in the early 90's. We are it's third owners, we bought it from the president of our local astronomy club after he stepped down and decided to downsize his collection. It's an oldie, but it's a great scope.
I have no idea who that old grey headed guy is standing behind them, some bum off the street I guess.
CE
Olympus BH-2 / BHTU with Olympus E-P1 MFT camera mounted
LOMO BIOLAM L-2-2
LOMO POLAM L-213 / BIOLAM L-211 hybrid
LOMO Multiscope (Biolam)

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rnabholz
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#4 Post by rnabholz » Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:15 am

Beautiful work Kurt.

Kurt's stuff is squarely in the fine craftsman circle of Amateur Telescope Making.

Mine on the other hand is from the baling wire and bubblegum school

Mine is a 13.1" f4.6 that started as a rebuild of a Coulter Odyssey Telescope, an early Dobsonian with a reputation of providing big mirrors at a low price. Like many from that era, they were big and heavy, badly overbuilt. In addition, due to heavy demand and the pressure it created on the small family business, quality began to slip and they were ultimately saddled with a reputation of highly variable mirror quality.

After my rebuild, which cut the weight in half, I upgraded the optics with a mirror figured by Terry Ostahowski, a highly respected mirror maker. It is a killer chunk of glass that has provided me years of pleasure. Many more details at my site http://www.homebuiltastronomy.com

Here she is.
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gekko
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#5 Post by gekko » Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:44 am

You guys are amazing, as are your telescopes! Wonderful to look at (even as I wonder, with the open construction of some of those scopes how you manage to keep the mirrors clean). Maybe the forum should be called Microbe and Star Hunter :twisted: Very impressive. Thank you, I know this post will grow. And it is very nice to see what astronomers look like :) .

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KurtM
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#6 Post by KurtM » Tue Jan 12, 2016 4:15 pm

Hey Rod, loved the Coulter 13-inch story, I have a very similar tale to tell. Love your very cool rebuild, looks like it "folds up" quite a bit smaller than mine.

I bought one of the first red tube Coulter 13's back in the 80's, and quickly got tired of the excessive bulk and weight. About the same time Dave Kriege came out with the Obsession, and shared all his "secrets" through the old ATM Magazine. So I built this one here, my first telescope, a truss style 13" f/4.5. I also switched from the Coulter 3.1" diagonal to a new 2.6", to reduce the central obstruction. By the time I got done, the primary mirror was the only thing brought over from the original Coulter. Not long after, I lucked into a 13" f/4.5 chunk of glass that had been refigured by Jerry Wilkinson, another highly regarded artist in optics. As long as I live I'll never forget the night I studied the stars through this telescope with the Coulter mirror in it, then swapped to the Wilkinson glass, to see if I could notice a difference, if was the considerable money I had in it was wisely spent? Man, was it ever noticeable, I almost had an accident requiring laundering. I have been a big believer in quality optics ever since.

The 13" f/4.5 is a perfectly wonderful size telescope. It has a large enough aperture to see a good variety of deep sky objects, but is small enough to store and transport easily. I badly need to get off my dead butt and rebuild this one to make it more compact for transport.

Image
Cheers,
Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
email: ngc704(at)aol(dot)com
https://www.flickr.com/photos/67904872@ ... 912223623/

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Crater Eddie
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#7 Post by Crater Eddie » Tue Jan 12, 2016 4:36 pm

gekko wrote:...even as I wonder, with the open construction of some of those scopes how you manage to keep the mirrors clean
You would be surprised at how little effect on the image a few years worth of dust buildup on the mirrors actually has.
CE
Last edited by Crater Eddie on Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Olympus BH-2 / BHTU with Olympus E-P1 MFT camera mounted
LOMO BIOLAM L-2-2
LOMO POLAM L-213 / BIOLAM L-211 hybrid
LOMO Multiscope (Biolam)

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rnabholz
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#8 Post by rnabholz » Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:43 pm

Hey Kurt,

Mine was the original blue tube version. Sonotube and one and a quarter inch particle board, it was a back breaker, about 125lbs or so. My back's sense of humor was growing thin.

I did the same change on the diagonal, 2.6" Antares 1/10th wave.

Someone once said on Cloudy Nights that life was to sort to use bad optics. The Coulter taught me that lesson. The mirror was OK up to about 100x, but fell off a cliff after that.

I remember viewing M13 for the first time using the Ostahowski mirror. I didn't know stars could be so small! And where did they all come from? I remember laughing out loud at the view, it was so amazing.

I had never been much of a planetary observer, never saw much detail worth looking at. Well the new mirror changed that! Well worth the premium paid.

I agree about the 13" f4.5 size factor. Manageable size, feet on the ground, no ladders. Gathers enough light to make things interesting.

As I get older, I can say that aperture envy is waning in direct proportion to the inertia that must be overcome in deciding to set up the scope. The 13" seems to be in pretty good balance in that regard.
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rnabholz
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#9 Post by rnabholz » Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:20 pm

Crater Eddie wrote:
gekko wrote:...even as I wonder, with the open construction of some of those scopes how you manage to keep the mirrors clean
You would be surprised at how little effect on the image a few years worth of dust buildup on the mirrors actually has.
CE
It really is surprising how much dust can accumulate on the mirror and not seem to make much noticible difference. I will admit to being a bit embarrassed once when a member of the public noticed that there were cobwebs in a solid tube scope I had brought to a public outreach event one night. I hadn't noticed, and nothing about the view was a tip off.

Generally I do keep things pretty clean. With just a little care, the mirror on my 13" can be cleaned in place in the scope, so it is not a onerous job. Plus, anytime I can avoid handling that heavy and expensive mirror is one less potential tragedy that can happen.

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KurtM
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#10 Post by KurtM » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:22 am

Rod, OMG :shock: , we had (have) one of those Blue Beasts, plus the 17.5" of the same vintage & make, at the George Observatory at Brazos Bend State Park where I did an awful lot of volunteering in the 90's, so I'm very familiar with that monster. My goodness, those things put a dent in the Earth anywhere you set 'em up! :P

I normally avoid optics hygiene discussions as too much like politics or religion: lots of strongly held differences of opinion, comes down to personal beliefs and preferences. But what the heck. I keep my mirrors in cases I make for them, except when the scope is actually set up. If a mirror spends a week or two in the scope and gets dusty (which it never fails to do in west Texas), then it gets a bath when I get home. I likes 'em clean clean clean. But that's because I do a lot of high magnification planetary observing because I live on the gulf coast where the air is very stable due to the nearby ocean, and routinely gives us absolutely superb "seeing".

Image
Cheers,
Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
email: ngc704(at)aol(dot)com
https://www.flickr.com/photos/67904872@ ... 912223623/

Rodney
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#11 Post by Rodney » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:59 am

Some nice scopes and dedication to the astronomy optical hobby. I have a Celestron C 5 that is stored at the moment. I purchased it new a good many years ago and pull it out once in a while when the mosquito populations are in a decline. I did have a few pictures of it.

Rodney

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rnabholz
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#12 Post by rnabholz » Wed Jan 13, 2016 2:17 pm

KurtM wrote:Rod, OMG :shock: , we had (have) one of those Blue Beasts, plus the 17.5" of the same vintage & make, at the George Observatory at Brazos Bend State Park where I did an awful lot of volunteering in the 90's, so I'm very familiar with that monster. My goodness, those things put a dent in the Earth anywhere you set 'em up! :P

I normally avoid optics hygiene discussions as too much like politics or religion: lots of strongly held differences of opinion, comes down to personal beliefs and preferences. But what the heck. I keep my mirrors in cases I make for them, except when the scope is actually set up. If a mirror spends a week or two in the scope and gets dusty (which it never fails to do in west Texas), then it gets a bath when I get home. I likes 'em clean clean clean. But that's because I do a lot of high magnification planetary observing because I live on the gulf coast where the air is very stable due to the nearby ocean, and routinely gives us absolutely superb "seeing".

Image
The seeing here in Iowa does not in any way benefit from the favorable effects of a local ocean...and generally is pretty bad, but we keep trying.

I didn't mean to leave the impression that I let my mirrors get terribly dirty, I don't.

As you can see above, my disassembled scope ends up as a quasi storage box. In addition, inside the box I have a closely fit mirror cover, and the whole scope gets covered by a nylon cover between uses.

I typically clean the mirror once in the spring, and again half way through the season, so it never gets really bad.

Cleaning it always makes me nervous though....

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KurtM
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#13 Post by KurtM » Wed Jan 13, 2016 5:57 pm

Probably shoulda mentioned WHY I'm into high mag planet watching: because there's actually not much choice. In coastal areas the sky is mostly hazy and light polluted, star hopping is often an exercise in frustration let alone glimpsing galaxies. But planets are bright enough to punch through light pollution, and the typically moisture laden air that sucks for deep sky viewing equates to stable air masses, meaning steady seeing. So if you're hot to use your telescopes at home near the coast, then either get into planets or get ready for plenty of frustration. Most folks around here seem to only use their scopes once or twice a year when they can manage road trips.
Cheers,
Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
email: ngc704(at)aol(dot)com
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JimT
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#14 Post by JimT » Wed Jan 13, 2016 10:18 pm

Oh what the hell! Don't have this scope any longer. Donated it to the local astronomy club last year (2014). I use to have really dark skies and a roll off roof observatory. Spent many a night observing DSO's but a few years ago we moved and now there is so much light pollution I could read a newspaper at night. Viz went from 6mg to about 3mg :(

I figured let others enjoy it.

Image

JimT

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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#15 Post by rnabholz » Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:00 am

JimT wrote:Oh what the hell! Don't have this scope any longer. Donated it to the local astronomy club last year (2014). I use to have really dark skies and a roll off roof observatory. Spent many a night observing DSO's but a few years ago we moved and now there is so much light pollution I could read a newspaper at night. Viz went from 6mg to about 3mg :(

I figured let others enjoy it.

Image

JimT
Awfully generous donation there Jim.

Hope you got a receipt and took a deduction, that is the least the world owes you for such kindness.

Good on ya.

Rod

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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#16 Post by JimT » Fri Jan 15, 2016 11:39 pm

Yes Rod, I did take a tax deduction. That scope would be hard to sell. Not for someone just starting out and not for an experienced astronomer as they already have a good scope and unless they live in my town it would be very difficult to ship. I am glad it is being used now.

Sorry Oliver but couldn't resist responding. JimT

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KurtM
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Re: Show Us Your Telescope!

#17 Post by KurtM » Sat Jan 16, 2016 12:42 am

I hope Oliver gives this thread a pass because there's a lot of crossover between amateur microscopy and amateur astronomy. So much, in fact, that Cloudy Nights, the leading amateur astronomy forum, has a whole section devoted to microscopes. It's where Rod and I first got to know each other.

Heck, maybe we can even get Oliver all stirred up, and now he's got to run out and buy a telescope and start hanging out in the back yard all night... :lol:
Cheers,
Kurt Maurer
League City, Texas
email: ngc704(at)aol(dot)com
https://www.flickr.com/photos/67904872@ ... 912223623/

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