This ultraportable telescope is ideal for outings in which stargazing is a “maybe” instead of a “definitely.”
Although I have a house full of telescopes, I still find myself dreaming up new ones that would be ideal for this or that situation. But that’s one of the real joys of learning to make telescopes — you can build instruments uniquely suited to a given application, limited only by your budget, skill, and imagination.
Attention to detail is what separates a regular Newtonian reflector from one optimized for high-contrast performance. This 6-inch f/9 uses every trick in the ATM’s book to deliver superb planetary and deep-sky views.
This was the first telescope I made using my own optics. Like most telescope makers, I got started the easy way, by building Dobsonians with mirrors ground by others. But one day I got bit with the mirror-making bug. I blame my friend Lance Olkovick, our local club’s mirror-making ace. But why a long-focus 6-inch? At the time I was a hardcore Jupiter junkie and was convinced that a long-focus Newtonian would deliver excellent views of my favourite subject. I also wanted to prove a point.
Have scope, will travel! This Dobsonian not only gives great views, it also fits into an airplane’s overhead storage compartment.
One of the best reasons for learning to build telescopes is that you can make instruments that perfectly match a particular observing need or circumstance. As an editor at Sky & Telescope, my “circumstance” happily involved a lot of travel, and as a result I found myself dreaming of a telescope that I could take with me as I zig-zagged across North America from one star party to the next. It seemed a shame to arrive under the dark skies of the Texas Star Party or Mount Kobau without a telescope of my own.
Every stargazer has a “first telescope” story. Here's mine.
Like many backyard astronomers, one question I get asked all the time is “When did you get interested in the stars?” The truth is, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawn to the night sky. Maybe part of the reason was that my family lived on an orchard under a splendid, dark rural sky. For me, the stars were as much a part of nature as the birds in the trees and the bugs crawling on the ground.