I have watched the sky since I can remember. I made a 4" widefield reflecting telescope years ago out of a piece of PVC pipe. I got the optics from the surplus room at Edmund Scientific which sadly does not exist anymore. The room had bins of chipped lenses, prisms, mirrors, army surplus stuff: buried treasure. That telescope cost me about $10 to make. I got years of skywatching out of it, but left the scope in Africa.
A few years ago, I made another 4" scope, but the only "mirror" I had was unsilvered. Here it is on a alt-azimuth mount made from pipe fittings.
I used three spring-loaded bolts to adjust the mirror. The little tube on the side is just a tube, to help line up the scope. I chemically silvered the mirror using silver nitrate, sugar, and potassium hydroxide solutions, but the surface quickly tarnished. I managed to get this picture of the moon with scope, using a digital camera:
With Mars so close in August 2003, I got the 8" Deep Space Hunter from Hardin Optical in Oregon. It's a Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount. Here it is looking at Mars:
Mars showed me its polar ice cap and some surface detail on August 28, the best night for me in the hazy Jersey Summer. I pointed my little digital camera into the eyepiece, got this featureless disk for Mars:
Here is a shot of the moon through the telescope:
Moon Occultation of the Pleiades, April 1, 2006
Click on the picture below to see the thin crescent moon and a few of the seven sisters. I watched several stars wink out behind the moon as it slid across the star cluster.
Mmff-plff years ago, I made these pictures in the darkroom. (It's much easier to do this now with the computer.) Click on a thumbnail to see a bigger picture.
Horsehead Nebula: M42 at the Jersey shore:
Andromeda over the bay: Enigmatic Galaxy over the highway:
Here are some star pictures taken at about the same time. I used a 35mm camera, 400ASA black and white film, 10 second exposure.
Big Dipper: Orion:
These links take you to third party websites. Please email me using my contact page if any link is bad.
Planet Finder This is a link to a Java applet that shows all the planets in your sky.
Your Sky by John Walker. This shows the whole sky.
Opposition of Mars by Bob Davidson. Information about Mars, including a Mars Viewer.