ATM: Amateur Telescope Making
Jan van Gastel's astronomy site
|One of the most rewarding aspects of astronomy is ATM: Amateur Telescope Making. Most self-built telescopes are Newtonian telescopes on a Dobsonian mount. My first self-built telescope, a 12 inch f/6 Dobsonian is pictured here. For transport purposes, I rebuilt it into a truss telescope. I also built a 20 inch f/5 Dobsonian. A picture of both telescopes in Jou-sous-Monjou, Southern France (summer 2004), is here.
In 2006/7 I rebuilt my 20 incher into a mucht lighter trilateral telescope (see menu at the bottom of this page). In 2009 I bought a new 20 inch f/3.6 mirror from Mike Lockwood (see menu below for a link to more information) and rebuilt my 20 incher for the second time. On the picture below I am preparing for an observing night (april 2010) with this telescope, at the 'Domaine de Pradines', in the French Cevennes. We had plenty of room to place our telescopes and there was no need to disassemble them before going to sleep. The night sky was very dark: SQM between 21.5 and 21.6.
For tracking, I built a two-sector equatorial platform. You will find an article with a very detailed description of how it's done by clicking here. There are two versions of the article: a Dutch and an English version. After using an equatorial platform for a couple of years I
decided to computerize my 20 incher with Mel Bartel's stepper system.
The results for my old 20 incher can be seen here, for my trilateral
An important, recurring activity is collimating the (Newtonian) telescope. I have translated Nils Olof Carlin's excellent article on this topic into Dutch. There are links to the English and French versions as well. From here you can go to the version you prefer.
Sometimes good binoculairs are better suited to view certain objects then a telescope. Especially for big and heavy binoculairs a good, steady and easy to use mount is very important. Therefore I built a lightweight aluminium binoculair mount.
Articles (alleen in het Nederlands/all only in Dutch)
Go to: main menu
Go to: A 20 inch f/3.6 computerized Dobsonian
Go to: Building a trilateral computerized 20 inch f/5 Dobsonian
Email to: jhm.vangastel(AT)ziggo.nl