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"In the Beginning"
My interest in astronomy began during my freshman year in high school. All first year students were required to take a course called "General Science" which was an overview of all the sciences (Biology, Physics, Earth science, Astronomy, etc.) Later in the year when we started the unit on Astronomy, I discovered that our teacher was an amateur astronomer and because of this he spent quite a bit more time on this unit. His interest in astronomy made his teaching of the subject much more entertaining, which sparked my interest in the subject. One day he brought to class a reflecting telescope that he had made himself. When he let us look at the sun through his scope (using a solar filter) this really ignited my desire to have a telescope of my own.
As a result, I ended up joining our local astronomy club and enrolling in their telescope making class.
Since I was a "newbie" I decided to start with the "classic" amateur scope: a 6-inch Newtonian reflector.
I purchased a mirror making kit, and eagerly enrolled in the club's mirror making class. Twice a week, club members got together to grind, polish and test our mirrors.
It took almost a year for me to grind, polish and put the final "figure" (deepening the mirrors' spherical surface into a parabola, which would focus all the wavelengths of light to a common focus) on my mirror. During that time, I spent weekends working on the tube and mounting for the scope, helped by my grandfather. Finally, on a cold night in December, my hand-crafted telescope saw "first light". To the right is a picture of that first telescope, which I still have. In 2008, I did a major re-furbishing of this scope by adding a new crayford focuser, a precision 4-vane
secondary "spider", and a new 50mm illuminated retical finder scope. I still use this scope to do visual observing while my 11-inch SCT is "gathering photons" via a CCD detector. To the right is a photo of my refurbished homebuilt, taken in 2010.
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