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I have acquired an old 1960s Newtonian telescope which I am reconditioning as part of my STEM Ambassador volunteer work with a school in Bury St Edmunds. It's currently I my garden but when it's in a fit enough state it will move to the school grounds and hopefully be the seed of a new Astronomy Club in the area. I've already started doing after-school solar system and rocket making/launching sessions, so hopefully the scope will grow the club into something accessible to many children in the area.

The reason for the post is I'd like to discover more about the provenance of the scope, so I wondered if any SGL members would be able to help?

The primary mirror is 300mm diameter, the secondary elliptical mirror is 63mm (minor dia) by 90mm (major dia). Estimated focal length 1560mm, so f/5.2-ish.
The tube is 1.6metres from the back of the primary box to the front of the tube; the front tube is 390mm diameter.
It stands on a massive concrete block, angled at 52 degrees, which takes 4 men to lift...

So far I have stripped it down, cleaned the bearings and regreased them so it is useable. I successfully collimated it with a Cheshire - first light showed not much coma, so happy with that for now. The focuser is rather tired and it needs at least a RA drive to make it easy to use, and the primary needs recoating. I believe it originally came from Norwich Uni, but I have no details.

If anyone recognises this magnificent instrument or knows anything about it, please let me know - it'd be great to share this with the school as excitement mounts!

Current state, in need of a lick of paint

Telescope 1.jpg

Original state (old photo)

Newt original condition.jpg

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Dreek,

All hats off to you!  

I weep at the condition of this. Clearly this was someone's pride and joy, since lost to apathy and neglect. 

It takes someone with time and inspiration, like yourself, to pick up the baton. 

Sadly, not able to help with info but happy to donate any kit that would help. 

Good luck and let me know if any other help needed . 

John

Edited by westmarch
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I don't recognise it as a commercial product, probably self built by a good DIY amateur. I'm sure it will "scrub up" well. Good luck.  :icon_biggrin:

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That looks wonderful, and will be a great catalyst for your STEM work; an interesting talking point as well as a practical instrument to use.

Keep us updated!

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That's one hell of a scope,makes my mass produced 300mm Dob look Micky Mouse!

How do you actually come across  treasures like this,out of interest I often look on ebay for old telescopes and theirs nothing really there.

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Hi Dreek,

What a fantastic project you've been working on! I love the whole idea and I'm sure it will get the minds of the kids engaged. I just hope the skies remain clear for you in Sunny Suffolk.

On 10/02/2017 at 18:51, Dreek said:

a new Astronomy Club in the area

I'm from just outside Bury St Edmunds myself and I'm looking out for an astronomy club to get involved with. I would have though there would be one in Bury but so far I've learned there isn't. If this would be a club that not only children could attend I would be very much interested.

Keep up the great work buddy, looks amazing!

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Update on the status of this project - now called "A Telescope for STEM in Bury St Edmunds".

I managed to collimate the telescope to verify that it was still a viable instrument - it is - rough partially focussed iPhone shot of the moon attached. I've now fully dismantled the telescope and mount, taken the it down to the metal and reprimed it ready for its new matt black coat. Really looks like I mean business now - very pleased with the result so far.

 

I'm delighted to say that I've also had some generous financial support from a local STEM engineering charity, The William and Ellen Vinten Trust, so I'll be getting the primary mirror resurfaced, new focuser, spotter and eyepieces. I'll also be designing a gearbox/motor to help position the mount - it's pretty heavy and the high stiction makes it tricky to fine-tune the aiming.

The local school are currently fund-raising for building materials for the base and a structure to protect the scope so we're targeting first light and opening ceremony in September ready for the school year (and Autumn nights).

Thanks for all the nice comments on the forum, I'll keep you posted!

Scope with Primer Coat.jpg

Newt first light 4th Feb 17.JPG

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On ‎11‎/‎02‎/‎2017 at 10:05, Les Ewan said:

That's one hell of a scope,makes my mass produced 300mm Dob look Micky Mouse!

How do you actually come across  treasures like this,out of interest I often look on ebay for old telescopes and theirs nothing really there.

Just luck really - a friend of ours shared an ambulance with a gentleman whose ill health had made him unable to use it any longer. Our friend suggested I might be able to do something with it, and the rest just fell into place. A few favours with trailers and mates from work and it was in my front garden!

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Really interesting project, Dreek. D keep us regularly updated!

Jeremy

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On ‎10‎/‎02‎/‎2017 at 20:26, westmarch said:

Dreek,

All hats off to you!  

I weep at the condition of this. Clearly this was someone's pride and joy, since lost to apathy and neglect. 

It takes someone with time and inspiration, like yourself, to pick up the baton. 

Sadly, not able to help with info but happy to donate any kit that would help. 

Good luck and let me know if any other help needed . 

John

John,

Thanks very much for your support - it's coming along now, so hopefully the scope with rise phoenix-like into the night sky over the coming months.

If I get stuck I'll shout out on this forum for some advice, but so far so good!

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...btw, sorry it's been a long time since I was last here - I've had a bit of Carpal Tunnel surgery and it's not conducive to typing (or stripping gigantic telescopes)!!!

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On 2017-2-10 at 18:51, Dreek said:

If anyone recognises this magnificent instrument or knows anything about it, please let me know - it'd be great to share this with the school as excitement mounts!

Can't say I do, Dreek, but it does look vaguely familiar. Was it obtained locally in Suffolk, or do you know where it came from?

Are there any markings/writing on the back of the primary mirror?

Sorry I'm a bit late to the party on this one - I missed your earlier postings

Intriguing.

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47 minutes ago, Dreek said:

the high stiction makes it tricky to fine-tune the aiming

I assume the trunnions are plain bearings?

Try moly grease or teflon grease, you need something that will create a persistent layer between the two metals. Also are the bearings steel in steel? If you can find a way to put in bronze bushes that will help.

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Thank you for the advice; I'll give that a go. They are plain bearings, yes, but with bronze bushes.

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On ‎13‎/‎05‎/‎2017 at 13:45, JeremyS said:

Can't say I do, Dreek, but it does look vaguely familiar. Was it obtained locally in Suffolk, or do you know where it came from?

Are there any markings/writing on the back of the primary mirror?

Sorry I'm a bit late to the party on this one - I missed your earlier postings

Intriguing.

Hi Jeremy,

I found it in Suffolk, yes, but I believe it may have originated from the Norwich area, so Norfolk.

No distinguishing marks on the primary at all unfortunately, so the mystery continues...

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Update on the scope project - it's now at the school and having foundations set so it's stable flat and aligned.

The primary is away being resurfaced, and I'm going for an Atik Infinity camera rather than eyepieces, so that children can do astronomy without individually teetering at the top of step ladders in the dark! New focusser and simple red dot spotter and we should be up and running. All this refurbishment has been funded by a generous grant given tom me by the William and Ellen Vinten Trust, who are responsible for helping many a young person on their path to engineering.

5996e0538feb2_Markingoutfoundations.thumb.JPG.3d86c3ad00e9d272c2a59c496b524c4a.JPG5996e063b5777_Diggingfoundations.thumb.JPG.996825ee525932668d8c030693581c82.JPG

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Best of luck with doing your polar alignment! I don't suppose it will shift much when a youngster trips over on it!

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Neil - and that's a realistic and significant scenario -the youthful cricket/rounders fielder staring skywards (ironically) and backing into the telescope. It's destined to have a cage built around it, with the main tube being removed and stored indoors. But that'll be part of a separate fund-raising exercise by the school - unless anyone here has anything they would like to donate...?

Here's a shot of it taking shape on-site. Top-coat still needed.

IMG_2837.thumb.JPG.1bc75761c7a4acfa83b051beaecfc976.JPG

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Friends, could you help me with a sanity check of some calculations please?
The big telescope's primary mirror is now resurfaced and I'll be getting it back by the end of September - the school are cranking up the excitement, and I'd like to be able to predict what sort of objects we'll be able to see. That's where I could do with my sums checking, before I make any rash promises.

The imager will be an Atik Infinity camera, which uses the Sony ICX825 CCD sensor. I think this is 11mm diagonal and 1360px * 1024px (active), with 6.6um pixels. This will be in prime focus position (I hope). A new good-spec focuser is being fitted to help this.

The approximate focal length of the telescope is 1560mm (including an estimate of path length through the secondary mirror bend). If I'm right, I reckon this will give me a pixel subtense of 4.225urads, or 0.8715 seconds of arc. So, for example, Lyra's Ring Nebula (0 deg 2' 30" diameter) will cover 172 pixels across (i.e. about an 8th of the camera picture width).

Does that sound about right?

Also, are there any pitfalls to look out for? For example, how do I know I'm going to fit the image exactly over the sensor?

Thanks for any help you can give...

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I would plug the numbers into Stellarium's ocular plugin (free). You can then cruise the night sky choosing appropriate targets.

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4 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

I would plug the numbers into Stellarium's ocular plugin (free). You can then cruise the night sky choosing appropriate targets.

Great advice, thanks Neil. This looks like my calcs are about right - assuming my figures for the sensor are OK, which I think they are.

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