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S*T*A*R's Arsenal of Observing Tools

Welcome to S*T*A*R Astronomy's catalogue of telescopes. This page lists the equipment owned and used by our members. It is provided as a resource for beginners who are struggling with the question of what telescope to buy or build. These links, photographs, and detailed descriptions allow the curious beginner to see what real amateurs are using for observing, photography, and other aspects of amateur astronomy. These pages provide real information, not just what appears in advertisements.

Here, listed by telescope type (Dobsonian/Newtonian, Refractor, and Cassegrain) and in alphabetical order, are the first few of our members and their telescopes. The links will take you to more detailed descriptions of the equipment (and other things the members have to show and talk about) while the thumbnail images will bring you to a larger version of the same picture. We'll be adding more pictures and links soon.

As will be seen below, a majority of the telescopes used in S*T*A*R Astronomy are Dobsonians and are rightfully so. The skies are only so dark in New Jersey and many of our members travel quite a distance to dark skies and require telescopes that are easily set up, broken down and transported. With this in mind, a Dobsonian is the best telescope to serve those purposes. However, no one telescope can do everything, therefore, if you or someone you know is interested in astrophotography or just the planets, a refractor or cassegrain might prove to be a better option. Enjoy the provided information below and good luck!



Members' Dobsonian and Newtonian Telescopes

Fred Block is the proud owner of a Discovery Telescopes 10" f/5.6 Dobsonian. The extra focal length as compared to other commercial 10" scopes (f/5.6 vs. f/4.5) helps to resolve globular clusters and enhance contrast of emission nebulae. Fred has used this telescope at many star parties and always comments on it's equisite optical quality and performance. A definate first-class scope! Fred also has a small website about his experiences in astronomy as well as some fresh daily content of space and science news. Fred is one of our club's newest and most enthusiastic members and observers! In fact, Fred is so excited about astronomy that he has a 20" f/5 Obsession Truss-Dob on order! Furthermore, has has opened up Telescopes.Org, a website from his own creation that will harbor telescope making articles, reviews on different pieces of equipment and such.

Greg Cantrell used to own an 8" f/6 Dobsonian. However, that still is Greg in the picture, and those are still his boots, but the telescope now belongs to Andy Zangle (see Andy's link at the bottom of this page). Greg now owns a 10" f/4.5 Meade Newtonian on an equatorial mount. Information about Greg's scope will soon be available (as soon as we can take some pictures of it). In the meantime, you can check out Andy's new scope at Andy's/Greg's Telescope Link.

Mike Lindner is the resident telescope-maker and mirror-grinder. Mike has two scopes that he normally brings out observing with him, a 13.1" f/4.5 Coulter Dobsonian and his home-built 6" f/7 Dob. When asked which telescope means more to him Mike simply replies, "My 6inch will always mean more since I crafted it myself. I can look at it and say that I built it myself and it was my first real telescope-making project." To see more about this fine scope and its home- and hand-made optics, go to Mike's Scope. Mike also has his own web site, which includes lots of information and links regarding astronomy, telescope making, and astronomy software that Mike has authored. You can get to his web site by going through his Telescope Link, or through our listing of member web sites under our Members page.

Don Odegard is our club's former Vice President and is another very accomplished telescope-maker. His main scope is an 8" f/7 home-built Dobsonian. It has among the finest optics of any instrument in our club, and Don loves to show those $Megabuck$ refractor owners just what a planet should really look like. Don also has a short-focus 8" (an f/3.88), and the binocular mount in the background (temporarily displaying the flag) is Don's also. Details can be found at Don's Scope. Don also recently completed his Beast, a 14.25" f/6 Truss-Dobsonian. Images depicting the construction can be found on S*T*A*R's "Making of a Beast." While up at the '99 Black Forest Star Party in Cherry Springs, PA, Don won 2nd place for Craftsmanship for this telescope. And views through it are just as spectacular!

Dan Pontone, also known as "The King" to the peasants...errr...other members, rather, owns one of the larger telescopes in the club, an 18" f/4.5 Obsession Truss-Dobsonian. When questioned about the telescope's optical and mechanical performance Dan simply replied, "Obsession! There is no substitute!" Dan and his telescope have been all over the East Coast, traveling from star party to star party. From Delaware to Pennsylvania and even to Maine! Each time he pushes further and further into the obscure catalogues of deep-space objects hunting down NGC, IC, UGC, Hickson and PK objects. No object is too dim for "The King!" For more information, see Dan's Scope.

Kay Sears was one of the most knowledgable and friendly of STAR's members. His passing brought sorrow to many of our members' lives, but his valient work with astronomy and telescopes will live on. Kay used his home-built 6" f/8 pipe-mounted Newtonian to it's fullest and enjoyed showing the public the wonders of the night sky. Kay is pictured showing a few kids sun spots with his solar filter. There is more information on this scope at Kay's Scope Page.

David Segelstein is S*T*A*R's emulsion expert. He uses a vintage 10" f/5.4 Star-Liner Newtonian OTA mounted on a custom-made heavier-than-an-elephant German Equatorial Mount. David has produced a number of very fine astrophotographs and it was all made possible because of the quality and tracking precision of his fine mount. When not taking pictures, David observes visually with his new 18" f/4.5 Obession Truss-Dobsonian. David was once quoted as saying, "I thought things looked pretty good in my 10inch, but that changed when I got my Obsession." David has a web site that includes his photographs as well as information about his telescope and photographic methods. You can get there through his Telescope Link, or through our listing of member web sites under our Members page.

Rob Teeter uses a number of instruments, but the one that means the most to him is his 8" f/6 Dobsonian. What started as a simple project to enhance the telescope's performance soon turned into a Stellafane 1st place junior division winning design. The telescope was also entered into the 1998 Mason-Dixon star party telescope-making convention where it again placed 1st. Rob also recently completed a 12.5" f/5.5 Truss-Dobsonian and plans are being drawn up for a similar design for a 13.1" f/4.5. You can see more of Rob's work at Teeter's Telescopes.

Rick Wilczek exclusives uses his 6" f/4.9 Orion Newtonian on an equatorial mount. Views through this short-focus reflector are similar to views through longer focal ratio reflectors, despite the larger central obstruction in Rick's scope. In addition, the short tube assembly allows the whole telescope (tripod, equatorial head and accessories) to be stored in a single carry-bag. The afore-mentioned equatorial head and tripod are sturdy and precise enough to allow budding astrophotographers the chance to try their hands at taking pictures of the night sky. Information about Rick's scope is available through Rick's Scope Link.

Andy Zangle's telescope is shown here with its new mount designed and built by Andy himself. It is an 8" f/6 Celestron Newtonian on a Dobsonian mount. Information about the scope is available at Andy's Telescope Link.





Members' Refractor Telescopes

Ralph Marantino is a strictly refractor and Cassegrain kind of guy. Pictured is Ralph and his refractors which appear in his favorite configuration - for solar observation. The primary scope is a Televue Genesis 4" refractor, with a Hydrogen Alpha filter fitted in this picture. The second scope is a 3" Meade, with a simple solar filter on it. The telescopes are on a Losmandy mount which Ralph really likes and recommends. The Televue Genesis refractor is an equisite telescope to say the least. You can easily fit the Plaeides star cluster into the same field of view while using a 35mm Televue Panoptic eyepiece in this telescope; a very incredible view! Detailed information is not yet available on all of Ralph's "toys", but will be soon.

George Plumfield is pictured displaying his 6" f/12 AstroPhysics APO refractor at one of S*T*A*R's Scope-and-Tell sessions. This scope is mounted on an AstroPhysics 800 equatorial mount. George got this scope new from AstroPhysics in 1991, back when they were making true apochromats, with triplet objectives. For more information and pictures, see George's AP Refractor Page.





Members' Cassegrain Telescopes

John Gasparini (our club's wonderful Treasurer), his daughter Julia, and John's scope are shown at left. The scope is a 7" f/15 Meade LX-50 Maksutov-Cassegrain on a fork equatorial mount, although here it is set up in alt-azimuth mode for some simple solar observation. This scope is a Maksutov form of a Cassegrain because the front corrector is concave, rather than flat as compared to a Schmidt-Cassegrain. A Maksutov supposedly gives slightly better images than it's Schmidt counterpart, but that is yet to be proven. In addition to John's 7" Mak, he also uses a new 14.5" Starmaster Truss-Dob. Information about John's scopes is not yet available, but will be accessible through this site as soon as we can take some good pictures of them.

Dave Hayden, one of S*T*A*R's former Secretary's, observes with his 8" Celestron telescope. This is a Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope (SCT) on an equatorial fork mount. A lot has been said about SCT's versus Newtonians in the area of optical performance. An 8" SCT against an 8" Newtonian of similar focal length will almost always loose in the end. SCT's are scopes designed for simple astrophotography and with the ability to track celestial bodies as they migrate across the sky. Visually, Schmidt's fall just short of the contrast that one will get from a similar newtonian. This is due in part because of the large secondary mirror that SCT's use, which block up to 33% of all the light that the primary mirror is able to reflect to your eye. A newtonian of similar focal length would have a secondary that would block only 15% at most. However, that doesn't make SCT's bad, just handicapped in some respects (remember, no single telescope can do everything!). To see more about this fine scope, go to Dave's Scope.

Saul Moroz and his 8" f/10 Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope are inseparable. It is on an equatorial fork mount, and is set up here for solar observation. Saul uses his scope for virtually every aspect of observational astronomy, and also does CCD imaging through it using a ``Cookbook CCD" camera that he made himself. Detailed information about Saul's scope and other equipment will be available soon.




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