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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

Sky Pictures

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:  wpe2C.jpg (53691 bytes)    M42 at the Jersey shore:  wpe32.jpg (34135 bytes)


Andromeda over the bay:  wpe33.jpg (37578 bytes)    Enigmatic Galaxy over the highway:  wpe34.jpg (30692 bytes)

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:  wpe35.jpg (19176 bytes)         Orion:  wpe36.jpg (11110 bytes)



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.