Third Light

"Every time I think I am at the point of diminishing returns,
this telescope shows me something astonishing. Then I rediscover
that every detail matters and that together they matter a lot."

          —me, about every three years

This telescope began as a Coulter 17.5-inch Odyssey-II, a huge red firecracker-looking thing about the size of a refrigerator. In 1990 I attacked it with a hacksaw and hand tools in order to make it a transportable instrument. It was heavy, crude, and no two parts were interchangeable, even the truss poles. It took 30-45 minutes to put up and take down, but it fit into a Firebird and traveled well. Now the aim is to refine the instrument a second time, using better tools and incorporating much experience. It should go together in 10 minutes, weigh less, work better, and fit in a Honda Civic.

December 22, 2002

Yours truly marking the point of best focus before making
final cuts on the truss tubes and building finished attachment

The telescope prior to "fitting out" propped against a porch
rail, aimed through a gap in the pines, awaiting nightfall to
check for dimensional sanity.

So, how well does it work? Have a look:

Europa Occults Ganymede

Take a trip to Mars

January 14, 2003:

Done so far: Rebuilt secondary cage,
Replaced primary mirror support,
Lower, smaller sides for rocker box,
Lighter aluminum truss poles,
Tool-free pole-holding blocks,
Tool-free pole-clamps on secondary cage,
Dob-dolly handles,
Ebony star bearing surfaces.

To go: Tracking platform,
An improved 16-inch mask,
Dew fighting goodies for secondary and eyepiece,
Some hard, level pads in the yard,
And just a few beauty touches.