Once upon a time back in the late 1970's, after dinner, my Father and I enjoyed watching Star Trek every night. Weekly we never missed Carl Sagan's COSMOS on PBS. So dad thought that I would enjoy the planets and stars even more by seeing them for real and up close. He decided to take me to a local astronomy club. Fortunately our club was just a town over, with two huge telescopes in twin domes. A 24" reflector and 10" refractor. Wow! My first visit to the observatory started my exploration of the sky which to this very day I continue by contributing my knowledge and time, passion and skills back as a volunteer via local star parties and as a qualified observer (since 2000).
Upon a few months of visiting the east coasts largest telescopes available to the public FREEE, I starting thinking about getting my own telescope to use in the backyard. Easy enough - the classified ads at the club lead my dad and I to purchase my 4.25" Palomar Newtonian by Edmund Scientific
I still own this great starter scope—and it's in PERFECT condition. First light of course was the moon but my first ever planet I found was Saturn! With it, I have since learned the entire northern sky, tracked sun spots, photographed the moon and orion and watched a solar eclipse on the projection screen. Most importantly of all, I was able to see Halley's Comet in 1986. I will never part with this scope — dad and I spent countless hours together all year round with it together.
Time goes on
1996 rolls in and now I am in my late 20's I am ready for an upgrade scope and news of comet Hale-Bopp is soon to be in the night sky as one of the greatest comets of the century. In my club I have become friends with George Chaplenko and Roger Tuthill. Two mentors and friends that were huge in the astronomy community. Just look them up — you will find information about them online.
George was the secretary at the time and inspired me to get more involved with the club. In his presence his warm voice with a thick Ukrainian accent seemed like I was speaking to "Einstein" and during our friendship he allowed me to visit his home to see how he made his telescopes and ground his own mirror(s). In fact, sitting at his kitchen table once, he told me over a cup a apple cider, that he found one of Einstein's theories wrong and could prove it! — I really miss George.
Roger was an inventor and sold telescopes from his home. He had a variety of them set up in his living room. I remember going there to speak to him and gawk at all the awesome equipment he had. Additionally, he held patents for the SOLAR SKREEN - a black polymer film cover for your scope that when covered, blocks 99.9% solar transmission and leaves a cool blue disk to view directly through your scope. He traveled the world over chasing eclipses. He also invented the TUTHILL ISOSTATIC MOUNT, which are the wooden angled 45 degree supports on my scope below. I purchased this second telescope directly from him and that year, photographed Hale-Bopp through it, among many other objects. (see images)
MEADE 8" SCT LX50 with clock drive and RA/DEC controls.
1996 Comet Hale-Bopp ( Pentax 35mm film )
Crescent Moon with Earthshine ( Pentax 35mm film )
Orion Nebula ( Pentax 35mm film )
2008 Crescent Moon ( Pentax K10D DSLR ) (All these photos are first attempts, I am still learning a lot about astrophotography.)
During the summer of 2002 I was lucky to visit the historic and famous MT PALOMAR Telescope in CA. Of the many memorable things I came home with, one of them that inspired me most- SHEER SIZE. I wanted a scope bigger than the rest I had owned and sturdy as hell, yet simple to use.
From 2007 to present...
I finally decided in my early 40's to purchase the scope of a lifetime. One that, if dad were still with me, he would be proud of too. I looked and searched for something both portable and powerful, with a brand name reputation behind it. Something I can grow into over the next 20-30 years and really enjoy using. With accessories and gear that can be added as I go. It had to have great quality and be BIG too...
I found that scope at ORION TELESCOPE ONLINE.The ORION 12"xxt (truss) Dobsonian with push-to Intelliscope
Assembly day 1
Assembly day 2
Assembly day 3
Assembly day 4
Upon seeing it completed, I was floored. This was the scope for me!
CHERRY SPRINGS PA - any astronomer along the East Coast knows that Cherry Springs is the BEST dark sky site in the Northeast. Again, fortune shines on me - my good friend Bob owns a 17" Teeter Telescope Dobsonian. He invited me to Cherry Springs for 5 days of observing the sky as I had never seen it - or have known it before. He was right. Not only was Cherry Springs an amazing trip with great friends- I designed a patch for all of us to have sown on sweatshirts to remember our trip.
This was our campsite with hundred of other astronomers - as you can see my ORION xxt DOB was protected from sun and rain. My entire scope, tent and supplies fit great in my Subaru. Everything about the scope met all my requirements - I could not be happier.
Since Cherry Springs, I have been attending STAR PARTIES at local schools - showing parents and kids what the sky holds if we can just turn out the lights. They are amazed at the quality and clarity of my ORION as I am very proud to own it, learn from it and share it. I wish my father was still here to look through it with me, but as I continue my passion for astronomy - everywhere I go he is with me. And my ORION will always be there as well.
CURRENT PHOTO - 2011 Star Party at Monmouth Junction School - NJ
My beautiful lens box I purchased at Cherry Springs.