Hack that scopeNovember 8, 2009
A time-honored tradition in amateur astronomy is amateur telescoping making, or ATMing. For many decades, most people didn’t buy their first scope, they built it, sometimes using optics or mirror grinding kits supplied by Edmunds and others, sometimes just hacking with whatever they happened to have lying around.
I’ve messed around with this a little; a couple of years ago I bought a National Geographic brand 76mm reflector at Target at a deep, deep discount. The scope had good mirrors but the mechanics were terrible; in particular, the eyepieces seemed to have been designed by someone who wanted to discourage people from looking skyward. Why, National Geographic, why? The old rule still applies: never buy a telescope anywhere that sells underwear (that includes Toys ‘R Us!). Unless, like me, you only want the scope for its parts, to build it into something better, and you can get it super-cheap.
Anyway, the full saga of the oft-rebuilt 76mm reflector will be a story for another day–not least because I am contemplating rebuilding it for, let’s see, the fourth time.
Today I’m writing to bring to your attention this very cool rig built by frequent commenter David DeLano. It’s basically a board with three holes, but this simple device allows him to mount his GalileoScope (tricked out with a diagonal and helical focuser from StellarVue) and his SkyScout (a handheld computerized planetarium-star pointer-thingy) on the same tripod. And he’s thinking of adding binoculars on top! His inspiration came from this cool tripod adapter from astronomy hacker extraordinaire, Rob Nabholz.
What do you have laying around the house that might make your observing life easier? Give it a think, and if you come up with any cool ideas, let me know!