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The Webfooted Astronomer - July 1999


Unique Scopes Featured at Riverside

by Randy Johnson

The Riverside Telescope Maker's Conference (RTMC) was held for 31st time Memorial Day weekend near Big Bear, California. Quite a number of folks attended from the Seattle area. Among the standout telescopes at the conference was local telescope maker Jay Marsh's 13-inch Dobsonian. This was his first telescope and it won an honorable mention award from the Merit Awards Committee. His scope featured large, smooth functioning bearing surfaces, a well-made home built Crayford focuser and solid, traditional, Dobsonian mount styling.

Other conference wonders included twin telescopes created by Jim Hannum and Dave Radesovich, Southern California amateur telescope makers (ATMs) with a tradition of excellence in telescope making. From beautiful hardwoods that they lovingly worked they were each able to create similar German equatorial mountings patterned after the famous, heavy duty German equatorials manufactured by Schaeffer. Truly beautiful, they worked as smoothly as the massive metal mountings that were their inspiration.

A scope that captured my imagination was the 11-inch F4.5 Slevogt, concentric Schmidt Camera, designed and fabricated by Dave Rowe of Torrance, California. This photographic instrument features a flat film plane, 120 format, 5 cm square that he attaches to the scope at the Cassegrain focus using a standard Hasselblad film back. In operation just since February, this instrument already has several outstanding wide field photos to its credit. Dave made all the optics himself including the aspheric corrector lens. Quite amazingly, this was his first optical project. His friends have correctly dubbed his telescope "The Ray Gun." On its split ring mounting, the black and white instrument when viewed in profile, looks like something from a 1950s sci-fi flick for keeping alien invaders at bay.

Another impressive telescope at the conference was Allan Guthmiller's trailer-mounted, F5 photographic instrument on a restored horseshoe mount that was originally used with a 16-inch telescope in the 1930s at Mount Wilson. The Herculean scope can be moved on site and made ready for photography within 30 minutes of its arrival.

As usual, RTMC was a time to renew acquaintances with old telescope making friends and make some with new ones. I had the satisfying honor of hosting a telescope walkabout and also a telescope making panel discussion. Both were great opportunities to see and hear about doings in the ATM community. If you get a chance to attend in the future, RTMC is a perennial recommendation of mine.

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