Progress notes from Mike Crawford's hobby of grinding telescope mirrors.
I devoted a great deal of time to making telescopes when I was a teenager; in fact, I once intended to devote my life to astronomy and building large observatory instruments - when I started college, I majored in astronomy at CalTech, and some of the happiest times in my life came when I assisted CalTech professor Jeremy Mould in observing with the 200 inch and 60 inch telescopes at Palomar Mountain.
But I have not worked with glass in almost 18 years, the last time being some time spent polishing my 10 inch mirror the summer after my freshman year at Tech in 1983.
I've strayed a long ways from astronomy and telescope making; now I'm a software consultant, and I spend most of my free time just hanging out on the Net. But for some time my wife has been urging me to develop some interests outside of computers.
I've decided to return to making telescopes. One reason for this are my memories of the great peace of mind that would come over me while grinding and polishing, and while observing on dark nights. Another reason is that I have somewhat greater resources available to me now as an adult computer consultant than I did as a teenager - it was everything I could do to get the components for my 8 inch newtonian, but now I can forsee being able to build a much larger instrument. One can see much dimmer objects in a larger scope, and objects just visible in a smaller scope will be spectacular in a large one, because it captures more light.
I had planned to start off again by completing the polishing and figuring of my 10 inch mirror - it is not quite polished out to the edge, and the figure is not spherical. After making it spherical I must then carefully parabolize the mirror. But I recently moved to Maine and all my stuff is in storage back in California. It's going to be a while before I can get it here. I think it would do me some good to start over from scratch as well, so I can relearn the tricks of the trade.
The scope I am presently grinding is:
Telescopes I have made in the past - I'll write up web pages for them as I get around to it:
Maybe when we get a scanner I'll stick up some of my photos of Palomar Observatory