Books by Philip S.
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Nights of Future Passed
Here's a fun look back at some amateur telescopes from days gone by.
Some were great, some not so good. I'll leave it up to you to decide which
Choose your decade:
Click on the thumbnails
to see the fine print.
Not exactly a name we
remember today, but those who saw the ads for this company's "High-Lite"
binocular mount (excuse me, binocular system) certainly remember
the product. Apparently, I'm not anatomically equipped to
use it, however.
"I grok Spock." Remember
that catch phrase uttered by Trekkies? The word "grok" was
introduced as a term from the "Martian" language by author
Robert Heinlein in one of his books, with an implied meaning of
understanding or perceiving something thoroughly. Apparently,
Celestron grokked Spock, and Spock grokked Celestron. Ahh, the
harmony of the spheres.
John Dobson may have created the
Dobsonian revolution, but if it weren't for Coulter Optical showing its
commercial possibilities, I doubt we'd have as many Dobsonian-mounted
telescopes around today as we do. Coulter was the first company to
introduce a large-aperture, Dob-mounted when it unveiled the Odyssey 1 in
1980. For $395, less than you'd pay for an equatorially
mounted 8-inch reflector, you could get a *huge* 13.1-inch telescope on a
very basic mount made from pressboard. It was an instant
success! The optics were often mediocre at best, but the light
gathering was impressive! The "light bucket" movement was
born this year.
"Crown Optics" was Meade
Instrument's retail moniker when they first began selling telescopes of
their own making and imported accessories directly to consumers back in
the 1980s. These early Meade reflectors bore more than a passing
resemblance to those sold by Cave Optical in large part because Meade had
hired many former Cave employees when that company closed. Meade's
"Research Series" of reflectors were very well made, with many
still in regular operation nearly a quarter of a century later.
||Meade's DS line of
large-aperture Newtonians, which were intended in complete with Coulter's
Odyssey, left something to be desired, however. While the optics
were quite good for the most part, the stubby equatorial mounts were
One of the giants in the hobby today,
Orion Telescopes started to sell telescopes of their own design more than
20 years ago. This ad for a unique Dobsonian-mounted Newtonian
reflector bears little resemblance to Orion's Skyquest models today, especially
with its unusual cylindrical rocker box and "tri-axial tripod."
The ad that started it all. When
they were introduced in 1981, Tele Vue Plössl eyepieces came in just four
focal lengths. But they were to change the face of the hobby as well
as the industry, since they far outperformed most commonly available
eyepieces of the day.
||Tuthill, Roger W., Inc.
The late Roger Tuthill, the amateur's
friend, opened his business in the 1970s by selling sheets of aluminized Mylar
as "Solar Skreen" solar filters. It was, and remains, a
popular item. As his success spread, so did his variety. Not
all of his accessories were the best, but he earned a point in amateur
history with the Celestial Navigator, shown at the bottom of this ad from
1981. The Mark I model was a set of digital setting circles that
could be attached to a wide variety of Telescopes, but it was his Mark II
system that marked a true turning point. The Mark II was the first
commercially sold GoTo computerized aiming system, available years before
Celestron's Compustar and Meade's LX200.