In restoring a 20″ Obsession telescope I found myself pulling a book from the shelf that had not been opened in a while. David Kriege and Richard Berry’s The Dobsonian Telescope – A Practical manual for Building Large Aperture Telescopes is a book I once read cover to cover.
The information here was critical in the success of my building Deep Violet, my 18″ telescope. Within the pages of this book are plans and drawings of the important bits as well as detailed discussions of what does, and does not work, when building a telescope.
The Dobsonian Telescope is the primary reference for those building large amateur telescopes. This book, along with the design revolution that went with it, put large telescopes in the hands of countless amateur astronomers. These telescopes extended the capabilities of amateur observers immensely, allowing spectacular views of deep space objects that were only fuzzy smears in the eyepiece before. Want to see the spiral arms of galaxies? A 20″ telescope can do that!
As I perused my well thumbed copy I was surprised to find bits of my own telescope plans used as bookmarks. There was dust on the top of the pages, but I still remembered where I disagreed with Kriege in the dimensions of the mirror box, or how to place the truss tube clamps. I may have deviated from the plans shown here in some aspects, but in other parts of the design I directly used the dimensions shown in the book.
So many old memories, good memories. Pursuing an art that has been around for four centuries, combining bits of wood and glass to make an instrument that can reveal our universe. Sure you can simply buy a very good modern telescope. But it is hard to overstate the pleasure of building one yourself. This is an art that can still be done in a garage, with tools available at the local hardware store, with results that can rival or even surpass something purchased from a catalog.