Homebuilt Telescope


My telescope was designed to break down and fit into a suitcase. It uses the 8" primary mirror at the bottom to collect lots of faint light and concentrate it onto a small mirror in the gray shroud. The small mirror is mounted at an angle to beam the light out the side of the shroud, and into a magnifying eyepiece. 

The only telescope industry parts are the mirrors and eyepieces. Everything else pretty much came from Home Depot.

The disassembled package is very compact. Fifteen minutes is all it takes to put it together. Alignment takes a bit longer, depending on one's state of practice!

One benefit I enjoy is that this instrument is very light in weight; this quality is the major reason the scope gets used!

The trunnion type bearings are plastic on teflon, resulting in buttery smooth, jitterless operation. Such ease make this scope a pleasure to use.

The base of the scope is made of 1/4" plywood, held together with screws for quick disassembly. 

The large white bearings are pvc pipe caps, held by wingnuts to the frame.

You can see the 8" mirror to the right of the handle.

The curved lines represent the multicolored star trails you get when you point your camera to the night sky and leave the shutter open for a while. The stars appear to rotate around the north star due to the earth's rotation.

The poem was given to me years ago. I was told that it was written by a woman who had looked through a telescope for the first time. I would love to know its source, and if you do, please email me! I've reprinted the poem at the bottom of this page.

The eyepiece focuser is on the left. It has to be adjusted during reassembly, so it's mounted in two small plywood rings held together by three adjusting screws and springs. In the middle of the photo you can see the small diagonal mirror (appears white) mounted on the diagonal holder with three long brass adjusting screws attached. I cast the diagonal holder out of automotive Bondo. I've never seen a design using long screws before, as most use regular short flathead screws. When you adjust these things, you have to be looking through the eyepiece, not at the screws and the screwdriver, so I came up with this better way. It also eliminates the disastrous possiblity of dropping the screwdriver down onto the primary mirror! The shroud was an afterthought, made necessary by streetlights. You can tell this scope gets used because the top was once flat black all over!

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Following is the poem:

At school I learned the Earth was round

and circled the Sun near the Galaxy's rim.

But I changed answers in my sleep, a primitive

whose eyes dreamed Earth beneath a bowl, glazed blue at noon,

at midnight seamed with threading lights.

I fell off the edge of the Earth tonight

when Orion's sword cracked the curving sky,

fell headfirst into his clotted nebula,

cradled by Trapezium stars, younger than human thought,

candles floating in a cathedral.

Anonymous

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