James Paulson's roll off roof observatory at the Sunridge Observatory site, taken in the summer of 1986, housing a 10 inch f/5 Cave Astrola Newtonian reflector telescope

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rescuing an Orphan

I had this Meade Telestar telescope given to me several months ago, it was headed for the trash can. It had one broken leg and was missing several components including eyepieces, the eyepiece to the finder scope, bolts for the accessory tray and the Autostar controller.

I brought the OTA in the house the same day I got it and set it in my telescope den. The mount stayed in my car up until last week when I finally decided to get it out of there and see if I could repair it to get this OTA up off the floor. Honestly I had written the mount off and was intending to build a Dobsonian mount for this scope.

I had never paid attention to the aperture of this scope, I guess I just assumed it was a 4.25" reflector, but the specs came out that it is a 5.1" f/7.9 OTA, and the included 25mm eyepiece leaves it right around 40x, which is one of my sweet spots for observing. I also found in my "extras" collection that I had 3 additonal 0.965 OD eyepieces that I could use with this scope that I got from an old discarded refractor that has since gone to telescope heaven. Since this is almost an f/8 they should work fine with it.

Upon examing the mount, I found that I could use some machine screws to repair the tripod leg. A good tightening of all the existing bolts and screws added some rigidity to the mount. In my "extras" collection I had a base for an MRRD finder from one I had ordered from Agena two years ago that was not being used. I removed the stock finder and rings and filled in the screw holes and mounted the new base and took the finder off my binoculars and installed and aligned it. I left the accessory tray off of it for now as it is awkward and not really well thought out.

All of the repairs have given me a decent little visual scope on an alt-azimuth mount that I can use manually for the time being. It will make a nice addition to my evenings when I am imaging with my Schmidt Newtonian and it has more aperture than my binoculars or my ST-80. It also makes a nice little grab and go because I can carry the entire assembly out the door without taking it apart. I am going to look for an Autostar controller for it and see if the motors are still functional, but even if they are not, I am perfectly content to use it in manual mode. I enjoyed refurbishing this scope and soon I will know how it performs.

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