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westmarch

What was your first scope?

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I recently found on eBay the scope that started it all off for me.  A 1968 Christmas with Apollo 8 orbiting the moon had me opening my Christmas pressie at midnight plus 1 minute.

It was wobbly, it was dim but I remember pointing it out of our bedroom window and finding the Orion Nebula - thanks to the Observer’s Book of Astronomy.

I think I eventually took it to pieces to use as a magnifying glass to toast ants but who said that wisdom is instant!

Anyway, my recent nostalgic purchase led me to wonder if anyone else has their own original childhood scope?

John 

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Mine was a 1960's Tasco 12te-5 complete in a wooden trunk. It was wobbly and had simple .965 inch eyepieces but showed me the rings of Saturn, bands and moons of Jupiter, the Orion Nebula and some double stars and my first galaxies which were M81 and M82.

This scope came along after the astronomy / space bug had been caught by watching the Apollo coverage and by joining the school astronomy club and did enough to ensure that many years later I'm still hooked :icon_biggrin:

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I must dig the old scope out again, stick it on a proper mount and find a way to put some decent eyepieces in it.

 

 

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A 10” SkyWatcher Dob.

The perils of post pub eBay.....

Sadly the combination of a flooded garage and an MDF base, have rendered it a congealed inert lump. So, I am planning to turn the mirror & cell, the secondary & vanes and the upgraded focuser into a travel trus scope. 

My woodworking skills are somewhat agricultural, so the build thread should be entertaining......

Paul

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My first commercial telescope was a 3-inch SpaceK equatorial reflector my dad bought me in the mid 1950s.....previous to that I made my own card board tube plastic lens models in the mid to late 1940s.....>

http://www.philharrington.net/spacek.jpg

Klitwo

 

Edited by Klitwo
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I started this amazing hobby late in life .

For my 50th birthday I spent time researching and my first scope was my skywatcher 120ed. 

At the time I knew it was something I had always been Interested in.

I have since purchased another scope for travelling. 

But my 120ed is my main scope and l will never sell it.

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Mine was a Tasco 4ETE, (or was it the ...4VTE). It was a birthday present from my father & step-mother when I was in my early-teens.

I upgraded to a Prinz Astral 500 in my late-teens.

Edited by Philip R
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I had a couple of scopes as a kid, one was a cardboard tube job with plastic lenses and about four foot in length but gave great views of the moon. I got my first proper scope when I was about 14 back in 1969, it was a six inch Charles Frank reflector on an EQ pillar mount with a set of six swift eyepieces and gave amazing views..

Alan 

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My first telescope was a Dan Dare 2.5x 30mm all plastic model that I won as part of an "Eagle" competition. My first astro telescope was a self built 50mm short focus achro in around 1956. Things have moved forward a bit since then!   😀

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8 minutes ago, Peter Drew said:

My first telescope was a Dan Dare 2.5x 30mm all plastic model that I won as part of an "Eagle" competition. My first astro telescope was a self built 50mm short focus achro in around 1956. Things have moved forward a bit since then!   😀

I had the Dan Dare radio station but always wanted the scope :icon_biggrin:

Alan

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Fullerscopes-MkII-equatorial.thumb.jpg.6b94b70f6041e1300874b6ea9dff145f.jpg4-inch-F10-Newt.thumb.jpg.67c3890765d17bf00d8261c4efcbc45f.jpg

After a year of nagging, my father travelled to Farringdon Road London and returned with one of these. Its a Fullerscopes 4" F10 Newt on a Mk II equatorial, mounted in a crude concrete pier in a 8' x 8' lathe and hardboard observatory with folding roof I built for it at age 15 or so. I was obsessed. I cast my own concrete counterweights to balance my crude SLR holder for afocal photography and was inspired by Sam Browne's 'All About Telesopes' to build a dodgy clock drive for the Mk II using a wooden lever-arm with a piece of hose clamp (worm wheel sector) and threaded rod. Needless to say in time I graduated as a mechanical engineer, became a research engineer then built my career in engineering R&D consulting. I know those cold Irish nights learning the sky with Norton's Star Atlas and dreaming up mechanical contrivances I could build with very limited resources and meeting other astro-nerds at Armagh Planetarium and at conferences in Dublin had a profound effect on my confidence as a designer and later on my career development.

The 4" Newt is long gone alas as is a superb pair of 7 x 50 Pentax binoculars of that era whose aromatic grease and razor sharp images blew me away at the time. I dont clearly remember what 'lit the spark' re astronomy and telescope engineering for me. I know before I was 10 y/o I was hooked. I have no clear recollection how that came about. It is important to me to reconstruct what happened to me. One reason for this is that one of my children, now 15, super smart, has zero interest in the physical and the 'real' and none in astronomy. Another, 17, is emotionally moved by what I have shown her of the universe in much better scopes today than I had available back in my bucolic Irish childhood. But no obsession.

What combination of nature and nurture, what refuge from commercial and social pressures allowed me and people like me to read about and get hooked on a 'hobby', that even 40-50 years later allows me to decompress almost entirely, yet is apparently not available to my own kids or to most teens and young adults? Where did the magic go?  I can follow them into modern music and poetry, into internet-based business models and opportunities yet they cannot access the spiritual crutch that the sky and what lies beyond has been for me.

 I am searching for credible answers to this. So is the chairman of one of the better known astro equipment manufacturers who is appalled by the generational shift in interests as Alice, our offspring, has passed though the Looking Glass into a virtual internet world that is mutable and immaterial and insubstantial and utterly different to the world that sustained me as a teen!

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I’ve only been ‘in’ the hobby for a handful of years but have a lifelong interest in all things space. 

I think I always thought you needed much more scope than you actually do to see interesting stuff and when I found out the entry price was a lot lower than I thought I started looking for a scope. 

Ended up with a secondhand SW 150P (the 750mm FL one) and an alt az az4 mount. Think the combo cost me about £120. 

Love that scope. Don’t see the point of getting a 130 and a 200 is considerably more bulky - it really is a Goldilocks scope. 

It has shown me the easier DSO’s, the rings of Saturn and good views of Jupiter and it’s now being pressed in to service as my main (for now AP) scope. 

Can’t see me ever getting rid of it. Cost me so little and has given me so much. 

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My interest in astronomy started when I was around 5 yrs. We lived in a small village where the night sky was inky black (that's over now, though), and every night my father and I went to lock the hen house at the other end of the garden. Of course I was staring up at the stars and wondered ... I got my first telescope when I was 13 - a Tasco 60 mm with a genious finder built into the scope itself - still has it! My dream came through when I got my astronomy degree in 98'. 

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Mine was a 60mm Prinz Astral refractor that I bought from Dixon's, in their 1980 January sale. Coupled with Guide to the Moon by Patrick Moore, that little scope, humble as it was, was enough to light a fire that's never gone out. The scope cost me £110 down from £130 and Guide to the moon cost £7.50, which was a substantial outlay for a poor apprentice who's wage was £21 p/w. 

At 7yrs old I already have an established interest in all things spacey. I remember watching the moon landings while wearing little striped pyjamas. And I remember vividly setting off on my first, lone astro adventure, where I walked for about half a mile trying to get directly under the crescent moon, where I imagined I'd see it as a Dairy lea triangle. I was only 6 years old! :icon_scratch: And Robbie the robot from Fireball XL5 and Star Trek also had a powerful influence on my young mind too!

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Edited by mikeDnight
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I remember my first astro telescope, though it was over 50 years ago.  It was a 4" Newtonian reflector with a spherical mirror, cardboard tube and table-top alt-azimuth mount partly made of chipboard.  I rebuilt it by re-polishing the mirror and making a new square wood tube, focuser made from a spiral focus sleeve from a scrap TV, and a better alt-azimuth mount (a tripod IIRC). It had a right-angled optical finder with cardboard tube which IIRC I made for it.

I followed up by building from scratch an 8" f7 reflector and fork mount, requiring a run-off shed.  I don't recall seeing much with either instrument other than various double stars from Norton's Star Atlas - no GoTo in those days.

My interest in astronomy fell into abeyance when I went away to university, to revive in my later years when I bought a Lidl 70mm refractor kit. (So cheap! Why not?).  Within a few years, a series of more serious instruments followed, starting with a 127mm GoTo Mak.

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My first scope was a Tasco 60mm f/15 Model #302675 made in the 90's. It was given to me by my aunt as a birthday present.

When I found it in my garage, there were quite a few bits and pieces missing. After about 3 months of searching online for the missing bolts/washers/nuts, regreasing the EQ mount and retrofitting it with a 1.25 focuser, it's now in fully working condition.

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My first 'scope consisted of a ex-Gov. biconvex lens from H.W.English in the 1950s. The lens was waver-thin and had a focal length of about 56 inches. I also obtained a heavy, brass, gunsight eyepiece from English. My dad then fashioned a steel tube at his place of work and a simple steel alt-az mounting and tripod.

Despite the crudeness of this non-achromat, I was astounded to see the mountains and craters on a first quarter Moon. I don't recall there being much chromatism evident. The magnification was about 50X. That first view, made a twelve-year-old feel like he could travel anywhere in the Universe.

 

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14 hours ago, tonyowens_uk said:

What combination of nature and nurture, what refuge from commercial and social pressures allowed me and people like me to read about and get hooked on a 'hobby', that even 40-50 years later allows me to decompress almost entirely, yet is apparently not available to my own kids or to most teens and young adults?

Tony,

you pose an interesting question.  The Soviet /US space race certainly fired most young peoples’ imagination and most of us were surrounded by adults with some involvement in engineering or manufacturing.   Meccano, Airfix, Lego, Blue Peter - constructing things was what kids did and there were few other options if money was tight.

I suppose young people now have access to instant information and products that reduce such need for improvisation.  

John

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My first proper astro' scope was a Celestron 130EQ bought as a birthday present for me by my son 7 years ago. It was a complete surprise, no hints or anything. The days, weeks and months that followed was a rollercoster of ups and downs with the 'scope and if I'm honest I don't have much of a good opinion of it but the really good thing was it got me going and it taught me a lot so I am very grateful for that gift. 

Edited by Alfian
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1 hour ago, Alfian said:

My first proper astro' scope was a Celestron 130EQ bought as a birthday present for me by my son 7 years ago. It was a complete surprise, no hints or anything. The days, weeks and months that followed was a rollercoster of ups and downs with the 'scope and if I'm honest I don't have much of a good opinion of it but the really good thing was it got me going and it taught me a lot so I am very grateful for that gift. 

Ian, you have reminded me that the scope I posted was not my first.  My father ordered a navy type, telescopic refractor for me.  I remember it arrived and everything viewed was dim and dark, even in daylight.  It was such a disappointment to him that he sent it back and I got the one shown for Christmas.  

From small acorns...

John

 

 

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Hi,

My first Telescope was a Charles Frank Saturn 4" tabletop Newtonian with a Spherical glass mirror that was bought for me, after much whining from me for it, around 1964 for my birthday, it came with a 31x eyepiece (and Charles Frank's "book of the telescope" which I still have).

My bedroom window looked out SE so I spent many frosty winters nights using the telescope on a table in front of the huge open Victorian sash window in my bedroom letting out what small amount of heat was warming the house from the coal fire in the lounge down stairs.

But we were hard in them days, the days where when you got up in winter you had to scrape the ice off the inside of the window before you could see out through it.

Tell kids that these days an' they wouldn't believe you.

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Second Scope.....

In 1968/69 I had just left grammar school and started working and a guy there had a telescope he didn't use very much and wanted to sell it.
It was an AE 6.25" Skeleton tube Newtonian and I paid  him £25 for it and it was on a fixed, un-driven EQ mount that took me ages to work out how it worked and it came with a 26mm Swift eyepiece.
I bought a 12mm and a 9mm for it and I still have all the eyepieces and their original boxes and the 12mm still has the original receipt from Manchester Telescope Centre, 6th Nov 1971, Swift TA-4  £6:75...  but the barrels are an odd size by today's standards of 1.25" or 2", these are 0.965" (24.5mm) but I do have an RAS Threaded adapter for these Swift EP's that fits into a modern 1.25" eyepiece holder, so they are usable...  But I tend to find I prefer to use my Vixen Lanthanum EP's these days on my 10" Newt.

422654895_SecondTelescope.jpg.67fe10294c316d3841752f1b9d068e1d.jpg

I found this page from a user manual for the scope.

Mine was the same but without the motor or setting circles.

This was the fastest cooling scope I have ever come across the only cool-down time was for the mirror to reach ambient then it just snapped into was crystal clarity and stayed there.

Why don't manufacturers make skeleton tube scopes these days?

The only ones I've seen are the GSO R-C Truss rod scopes and some collapsible Dobs.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Southern_Cross said:

My first Telescope was a Charles Frank Saturn 4" tabletop Newtonian

Wonderful to see that CF 4"! The first time I ever looked through a proper scope was through a school friends CF 4" in around 1963/64.  He was made keen on astronomy and in the same way that we all wanted to be test pilots or train drivers when we grew up, he was going to be an astrophysicist and that's just what he did!  He is sadly no longer with us but  he achieved his ambition.

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Hi everyone, my first scope was a Criterion 4" dynascope made in Hartford CT US. All that's left of it is the mirror, focuser/diagonal, and the .965 dia eyepieces. I had the mirror and diagonal re-coated years ago. I plan on making a new scope just for fun.

Dave

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I came quite late to the "telescope" option (although I did have a mirror kit sitting in a box for more years than I care to remember - finally passed it onto someone on SGL a couple of years back, so hopefully it has now found more use), spending most of my early decades with nothing more than a pair of 7x50 bins. The first scope I owned was a 114mm equatorially mounted reflector and I could not get to grips with the mount. The first scope that got any amount of actual usage was an ETX80.

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The best I can recall, it was a little 50 or 60mm refractor my Dad got me during a sale in the underground parking lot at our local Sears department store back in 1965. It was a return item with a couple of issues which my dad was able to fix.  

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My first was in 1979; a fullerscopes 6” F8 Newtonian on a Charles Frank manual EQ mount. My dad and I built a roll on roll off obsy and a I had many years of fun with that setup before it had to be sold to fund further education. A classic setup, very fond memories. 

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