My 6" Newtonian Telescope
by Joos Bloem - September 2014
As a child I was fortunate to grow up on a farm, away from light pollution.
At nights I would lie on my back watching the stars, and wondered what they looked like, what was beyond them. The old 10x40 binoculars my father had, was on some occasions borrowed to me and had to do at that time, and fuelled even more questions.
In 1969, at the time of the first moon landing and the ones following. I would go out at night, and imagined I can see the lander and the astronauts on the moon.
Sometimes my father joined me, sharing his knowledge of the sky. Showing me the constellations he knew. He showed me a way to find South using the Southern Cross. Some mornings he would wake me up to see comets, some nights to observe the odd meteorite shower. On occasions he would call me to listen to scientific programs on the radio, because this was still prior to the advent of television in our country. He would thereafter try to explain what the learned professors said.
To own a telescope was a long-time dream. I bought myself a real cheap one in 1999, and there after a few years, a small "go to" telescope. From the backyard where I lived I could observe so much as what the light pollution allowed, but still had hours of jaw dropping observations. I would take it along where-ever we went away to dark-sky places.
As in any-thing in life we always want bigger and better. We humans are born that way. Yes, by doing so we improve our knowledge and skills. Human kind would not been able to build the Hubble Space Telescope if Isaac Newton did not invent a reflective telescope and many years later, people developed the technology to overcome gravity to send a spacecraft into orbit.
In the light of this I decided I want a bigger telescope. I realised that I could not afford a state of the art commercial scope. The next, and in my case a better choice, I wanted to build my own.
But still after a hiccup here and there I only managed to join the Telescope Making Class in January 2013.
My first impression was the enthusiasm the instructors spoke about the process of building a telescope. I realised that their passion for perfection on making a close to perfect mirror would guide my own to make the best telescope I could. I discovered I was on the right place to realize my dream.
I passionately start grinding my own mirror the same day. For the weeks to come I would use any spare time to continuing deepening the curve of the mirror to be? The whole process demands extreme care in all stages of making your mirror. Dust and dirt become your worst enemy, for amongst it, particles can be that can scratch your glass. I dearly learned that lesson first handed. But in all, patience is the most important virtue. One can in being impatient be your own worst enemy, and cause yourself a lot of rework. During the process one have lots of time for reflection. Thinking on where I come from, where I am going, what will the end result be like? Will I be content with what I am doing here, will I continue to build a larger telescope? I also continued to make the rest of the telescope using material I had. Again this was therapeutic in being able to create something useful with my own hands.
Unfortunately during parabolizing my mirror I discovered a flaw in the glass that made continuing completing it useless.
This was one of the most devastating events I ever experienced in my live. I tried to recover the mirror by grinding it down and redo it, but it seem to be flawed throughout.
Then to the rescue came Johan Smit who had a mirror prepared by Louis Barendse. I had it aluminized and had a working telescope 3 rd November 2013. Since then I spend any possible opportunity viewing through it, and will do so for the time to come.
At this stage I would like to thank everybody at the ATM class for their help and the opportunity to be led by them.