First Light For a New Telescope

15 05 2011

Astronomy On The Road is telescoped-up! Warren Kutock is the owner of an old-school optics shop in Mesa, Arizona and over the last week or so, Warren and I spent hours looking at different telescopes and mounts.

Warren has built custom observatories all over the world – including for NASA! – and has a deep knowledge of optics and mount mechanics. It quickly emerged that the scope I had intended to purchase – a Meade 8″ LX200 – wouldn’t fit in the RV, as the tube isn’t easily separated from its U-shaped mount.

Seven days of research later, and Astronomy On The Road is very close to take-off. With…

A 5″ apochromatic refractor on a Meade LXD75 mount!



Let me break that down for you:

  • 5″ – The main job of a telescope is to gather light, which it does using a mirror and/or a lens. The lens of Astronomy On The Road’s telescope has a diameter of five inches and can collect hundreds of times more light than your eyes.
  • Refractor – Remember that mirror vs. lens thing? Refractors are the “lens” side and are the traditional-looking style of telescope design. (Yes, smarty pantses… I know that there are mirror/lens combos out there.)
  • Apochromatic – Simple “achromatic” refractors have a problem where they focus different colors of light at different distances from the lens, leading to false color in images. “Apochromatic” means that the telescope corrects for this problem.
  • Meade LXD75 Mount – This is what the telescope sits on. It’s basically a tricked-out tripod with very precise motor control.
The Scope, With Its Ride In The Background

The Scope, With Its Ride In The Background

The telescope’s “first light” was in the parking lot of an RV shop in Mesa. My view to the west was blocked by a huge Monaco motorhome and I had to covertly redirect a couple of floodlights, but… WOW! The telescope optics are fantastic, and it won’t take an expert to know that when they look into the eyepiece they are seeing something special through a great instrument.

I have lots of thoughts regarding the telescope, mount, project, motor drives, and other things. But for now let’s keep it at “The project’s telescoped-up!”

posted by yair




6 responses

15 05 2011
Early Retirement Extreme

I think an azimuthal mount would have been better for spying on the neighbors 😎

15 05 2011

What neighbors?

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that I can see you and the wife from up here in Payson, Arizona. Fine optics will do anything, I tell you.

16 05 2011
Early Retirement Extreme

You didn’t mention what eyepieces you got? How fast is the telescope f/?? How low can you go in terms of magnitude (eye not camera)?

15 05 2011
Seth Johnson

Thrilled to be backing the project, and happy to see it getting on the road!

15 05 2011

Thanks, Seth!

16 05 2011


I forgot that you know something about these things. It’s an f/7.5 and I have a lovely 2″ 24mm eyepiece along with a relatively cheap set of 1.25″ Plossl eyepieces ranging from 40mm to 6.5mm. Theoretical limiting magnitude for the telescope is 13.1, although that of course depends on the size of the object.

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