Living in the islands provides excellent observing for an amateur astronomer such as myself, but there are drawbacks. I do miss the large star parties, getting together with hundreds of other observers to see other telescope setups, to learn, and to share the sky.
Thus I have made a habit of traveling to the mainland once in a while to attend one of the larger star parties. This year I will again attend Oregon Star Party. It has been a while, the last time was 2017, the year of the total solar eclipse.
Traveling from the islands to a star party makes it a challenge to bring a large telescope. Last time I borrowed an 11”, not a bad solution, it worked, but it was not my ‘scope. This time I was determined to realize a long considered idea, to build a substantially sized travel telescope. Thus Holoholo was designed and built, a 10.1” f/4.5 travel ‘scope.
This has been a bit of a design challence for me… Just how small, how simple, can I make a focuser and yet still provide excellent usability. My latest Helix 1-14 design is my best yet.
As my 3D printer design skills improve I applied lessons learned and the unique capabilities of an FDM printer to the problem of a focuser. After a bit of a journey I have arrived at a design I can consider finished. Is it the final design? I may tinker some more, but I am satified for the moment.
The design is based on a few ideas from here and there, products I have seen or used, internet postings from others faced with the same challenge. I am not one for just printing someone else’s design, I rarely do that, I want to do my own, and maybe make it better.
As I have observed lately, most of the small telescope mirrors available right now are out of China, most of those produced by one company, Guan Sheng Optical or GSO. If you want a small mirror, say a 6″ or 8″ mirror, there is not a lot of choice, the mirror makers in the US generally do not do anything smaller than 10″.
The GSO mirrors range from decent to pretty bad, with no way of knowing what you will get when you order, just luck of the draw.
With the big wall completed along the driveway, and a bit of a break over a hot muggy summer, I am again building walls.
This is not the sort of wall between people, I detest those, but rather a real rock wall, terracing the backyard to make the space available for landscaping and other projects. This puts into action a plan that has been brewing for years.
Part of the impetus is that I have a source of rock secured, a very large pile of very nice rock found in a Waimea backyard. One of my co-workers casually mentioned he needed to rid himself of a pile of rock, to which I quickly asked… How much rock?
The classic Cave Astrola telescope has become my roll-out, quick observing session ‘scope, often found in my driveway. I have also used it a few times at darker sites when I expect the weather to be damp or dewy as a Newtonian is more protected.
While the restoration job was finished some time ago, I never got around to re-coating the optics. Meanwhile the telescope has seen good service on many occasions as I enjoyed this fun-to-use instrument.
The optics did need some attention… The primary mirror from the Astrola appeared to have not been re-coated since it was made in 1978. Thus the aluminum coating was over 40 years old. While the coating looked bad, it was still serviceable, producing reasonable images.
Still, the loss of light due to the old aluminum coating was probably reducing the effectiveness of this 8″ telescope to something more like a 6″ telescope. I had meant to get it re-coated some time ago, but we know how these things work.
I do enjoy a nice project I can work on, get my hands dirty, and use my skills. A classic telescope in need of restoration? Just the thing.
This telescope was literally rescued from the trash. Matt, the owner of the excellent Mountain Road Cycles in Waimea found the telescope at the transfer station.
Matt put a message into the folks at the observatory, who represent more than a few of his customers. The info was quickly forwarded to me, as everyone here knows I build and restore telescopes for fun.
My Astrola is now operational, with final assembly and collimation completed a week ago. So far I have used it for several evening sessions of observing from the driveway. The result is several pages of notes in the observing log, wandering through nebulae, clusters, and binary stars in Orion, Canis Major, and Puppis.
When I was just starting my journey in astronomy the Cave Optical advertisement in each month’s Sky and Telescope was something to inspire dreams in a young teenager. In many ways those dreams have never been forgotten.
Yes, a new/old telescope has arrived at Andrew’s Home for Wayward Telescopes… A beat up and neglected 8″ Cave Astrola. The new arrival has me thinking of the other telescopes that have come through recently…