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Telescope Making

Telescope Making

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Published by: josolaz on Apr 16, 2011
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Telescope Making
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by the fine folks at The Skope Werks
 A long time ago, when I was a kid living on a farm in Oregon, I wanted a telescope. I wanted a telescopebecause it was cool, because Jimmy had one, because I liked to look at the stars. Mostly I wanted atelescope to look around. I didn't want to admit it but I liked to look at the stars and the moon. I liked towatch birds and the way the snow melted off the mountains in the spring. Some things are just better seenin snippets of detail from a distance as a big picture.Telescopes are expensive when you don't have any money, which was me most of the time. But telescopeshave been around a long time, since 1608, and some books have been written on how to make one. I gotone of those books for Christmas when I was 10. I still have that book.One day when I was 46 years old, I had some extra money and some extra time and I was cleaning up in myroom and I found my telescope book and I said,
I'm gonna make a TELESCOPE!
I am not the sharpest tool in the drawer but I set out to learn how to make a telescope. What I found alongthe way, all the mistakes I made, all the neat tricks I learned, that is what I am going to share with you dearreader. You can make a telescope for around $25. You can make one for $50 that will knock your socks off and show you things you didn't know existed. I will show you how to make the telescope and how to use itand how to have some fun along the way. It won't take you 36 years like it did me, but it will take a fewweeks, maybe a month or two. The process can get messy. It can get broken. It can make you walk aroundin the worst mood you have been in since when. But in the end you will have a telescope that people willlook at and look through and say,
you didn't make this, you couldn't have made this.
Yeah I did. That is thebest part of all.Lets make a telescope.
[edit] Telescope Making
Making a telescope requires some thought. In this book we will visit and revisit terms and ideas, alwaysbuilding on what we looked at the last time. Uncommon words and topics are listed at the bottom of thepage with links to pages that explain them. You may also find links there that point to private web pages onvarious allied subjects. You should check out those links, they are worth looking at.
Basic Designs
To build a telescope we must have some idea of what a telescope is, how it works and how we will use it.The first project in this book is a Newtonian reflector made of scrounged parts. Other projects will follow asthe book grows. However, all the telescopes that exist are based on two designs, the Refracting opticalsystem and the Reflecting optical system. Some telescopes are a combination of both designs.
Refracting Telescopes
The very first telescopes were refracting telescopes. A refracting telescope is a series of lenses, held in opticalcollimation that gather and focus light. The name comes from the action of the light as it moves through thelenses. The glass refracts or bends the light due to the properties of the glass. Because of this the light isbroken up into the various colors that form white light.The shape of the lens brings the light to focus, but because the glass has refracted the light, the image hasfalse color around it. This is most noticeable on bright objects.
Simple refracting telescopes can be made with a magnifying lens of long focal length, (The Objective Lens),paired with one of short focal length, (The Eyepiece). A usable primary lens can be found in many types of equipment that use projection lenses and other optical components. Small inexpensive refracting telescopescan often be found at surplus and used merchandise stores very cheaply.
Reflecting Telescopes
The reflecting telescope is designed around mirrors. Because it does not transmit the light, but just bouncesit in another direction there is no refractive affect. No false color. The mirrors must be precise enough toaccurately reflect and focus the light without introducing distortion. That is not as hard to do as it sounds.The first project, the Newtonian Reflector, will require mirrors, and we will make them. It is really very easyto do. Physics is on our side.
Links to new terms and topics for this page:Collimation:
Refracting Telescopes:
Reflecting Telescopes:
[edit] Project 1: The Newtonian Reflector
The Newtonian Reflector Telescope, is an extremely simple and efficient design. If you read the article atwikipedia, (the link is below) you can see that there are some decisions that must be considered prior tostarting construction of the telescope. Two questions that need to be answered right away are how will youuse the telescope and where will you use the telescope. These two questions, and storage when not in usewill directly affect the design.
Thinking About Your Telescope
What Will You Do With Your Telescope? Most folks, me included, spent a lot of time dreaming about makingthe telescope without giving much thought to how it might be used. For instance, at the beginning I talkedabout looking at stars and planets. I also talked about looking at birds and retreating snow fields. Theproblem is, the basic Newtonian telescope makes everything look upside down. Looking at stars? This is notan issue. Looking at birds? We have a problem. Fortunately there are inverters you can buy for the telescopethat will turn things right side up. A second issue with the Newtonian telescope is that it is by design quitepowerful. This means you might be looking at bird feather detail, not the bird. Thirdly, the telescope is largerthan a pair of binoculars and may require setup and maintenance. I don't want you to stress over this, butyou need to consider, what will you do with the telescope?
Telescope Design
The telescope design is everything from the optics, (in our case the mirrors), through the mounting of thoseoptics. The type of tube assembly to use. The mounting of the mirrors in the tube. The type of mount for thetube and mounting the tube in that assembly.So looking at the previous section, lets say you want to look at planets and stars in the sky. Longer focallength telescopes give bigger images. That is just the nature of the design. The longer the focal length, the

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