52d 32' 43.98" N
01d 52' 23.57" W
The first serious telescope I owned. A 6 inch f8 Charles Frank Newtonian
which I had bought for me in 1968 for my 10th birthday. The mirror was
mounted outside of the tube, and you can see the x3 finder just below the
eyepiece mount. It was at 90 degrees to the optical axis, and used a
small 45 degree mirror at the 'back' end of the scope to view the sky.
The mount was very sturdy, with excellent setting circles. The tube
was aluminium, and together with the mount was heavy to move - for a 10 year
old. I used this scope for 11 years until 1977, and made my first
series of variable star observations with it in 1975. The telescope
was eventually housed in a hinged roof observatory around 1976.
In 1977 I replaced the 6 inch with this Cambridge Telescopes 10 inch f6.5.
This was a lovely telescope to use, and served me well for 10 years.
By this time my interests in variables were leaning more towards the fainter
Cataclysmic Variables, so something larger was needed. More than 30
years later, this telescope is still in use by a good friend of mine,
although it has been converted to a Dobsonian.
A bit of an oddball this one, but probably the best optical telescope for
Planetary observing I have ever used - a home made (not by me) 8 inch f10
Newtonian. I owned it for a number of years during the early-mid
1990's, but eventually sold it. Amazingly the person I sold it to
donated it to my local Society in 2007, so I still get to use it from time
The telescope on the left is a 16 inch f5 reflector, made by Dark Star
Telescopes (sadly no longer making big Dobs). This replaced the 10
inch in 1987, after my first bout of aperture fever. This telescope was
severely damaged by a heater fire in December 2000 following 100,000+ variable star observations made
in the 13 years I owned it. The scope was replaced in March 2001 with
the David Lukehurst 18 inch f4.4 shown on the right. Although this telescope was
sound mechanically, the optical quality was poor compared with instruments I
had owned before. So despite reaching very faint magnitudes with it
from Birmingham's polluted skies (mag 16.7 was the deepest recorded) I took
the plunge in 2003, and moved to a computer controlled LX200 GPS.
small telescope seen with the 18 inch is a Dark Star 8.75 inch (22cm) Dobsonian,
which I can move around the garden and observe variable star fields which
might be obstructed from view (hedges etc.) from the main scope.
The Meade 14 inch LX200 GPS provided me with improved optical quality,
darker background fields and more comfortable observing position.
Also, despite the reduction in aperture of 4 inches, the limiting magnitude
has not been affected. On the most transparent nights (sadly becoming
more of a rarity these days), this telescope can reach magnitude 16.5.
one downside in using a GOTO scope, is that it's actually slower to locate
VS fields than a Dobsonian. It's also harder to chase holes in clouds,
and being computer driven, requires more TLC!
The telescope is housed in a small observatory at the
bottom of the garden. The roof is of 'hinged' design, and the front
can be dropped down to allow views of the southern sky. Because the
telescope is situated some 5 miles north from the centre of Birmingham, the
glow of the city causes major problems with any star of -10d declination
or lower. The garden is surrounded by neighbours
, but the hinged roof
is of benefit here, as either side can be shut whilst observing, thus shielding
the telescope and observer to some degree.
Because of the threat of break-in's & vandalism,
the observatory has been deliberately designed to resemble an ordinary garden
shed when closed up. Anything larger, or resembling that of a more
conventional observatory would make the building and it's contents a prime
target for diurnal/nocturnal low life!
At the end of May 2010 the 35cm Meade was sold on, and was replaced
with a 50cm (20inch) f4 Newtonian reflector from Orion Optics (UK).
First light was obtained in October 2010 (after waiting 54 weeks for the
telescope to be completed by Orion Optics) and the telescope didn't
disappoint. Very little coma was visible (I do use good quality
eyepieces) which means I won't be needing a coma corrector. The 50cm
mirror is a 1/8th wave PV and gives excellent Planetary views for an F4.
Quite vivid colours in some deep sky objects and more importantly mag. 17.0
surpassed visually in February 2011 (CY UMa at minimum brightness of 17.1)
This telescope is part funded through
the British Astronomical Association Ridley Grant.