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Making Your Own Telescope Hardcover – 1947

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 211 pages
  • Publisher: Sky Publishing Corporation (1947)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1114285404
  • ISBN-13: 978-1114285408
  • ASIN: B0007DK32U
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,114,832 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In making this review, I'm amazed on the date I'm writing it to be the first one, this book has been in print for over half a century and I can't believe I'm the only one who ever found it useful. The author Allyn Thompson, was a postmaster by profession, who led a group of a group of amateur telescope makers at the old Hayden planetarium in the 1940's to the time of his death in the mid 1950's. The book itself is an outgrowth of a series of articles he wrote immediately after the second world war which appeared in Sky and Telescope magazine. Though the size and focal length of the telescope he describes building (a 6-inch f8 reflector) is small by the amateur standards of the last 20 years, it is still probably the best size for a novice wishing to grind and polish the primary mirror themselves to start with. And it is in his step by step discriptions for making the primary mirror of a Newtonian reflector that this book excels. He tells you in a simple straight forward way the theory and history of the telescope, materials needed to grind and polish your own primary mirror, how to do it, how to test it (his discription of the Focault tester and using masks with it are in my opinion the still the clearest written for the beginner). He does not attempt to scare you away with horror stories of all the terrible things that can happen to you, turned down edge, dog biscuit ect, a flaw you find in the old "ATM" books I and II edited by Albert Ingalls. Thompson identifies possible problems, but then guides you through them with straight forward techniques. His "button laps" were a wonderful inovation for small mirror making and molds were widely available when this writer polished his first mirrors 30 years ago.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A previous reviewer mentioned the most serious problem with this classic book, its outdated information. I would agree, but not sufficiently to reduce my rating to four stars. Amazon does not have a 4.875 star rating so I rounded up to five. A bright reader, good with their hands, could use this book as their sole reference to build a telescope using tools, raw materials and hardware scrounged from the city dump. Not easy, but do-able.

There are three types of information in any book written by an artist: history of how their art developed in space and time, their perspectives on the artistic process, and a discussion of their tools and materials.

Taking the history first, Thompson reveals a great deal of otherwise difficult to find knowledge about the development of telescopes in general and amateur telescopes in specific. Why do we make reflecting rather than refracting scopes? Why do we make glass mirrors instead of metal ones? Why don't some of the classical telescope designs work for the amateur? The introduction is very good and he takes the time to give a fairly complete story.

Likewise, Thompson's discussion of his process is very good. He simplifies and explains the decisions one makes in producing a telescope and more importantly, the decisions one makes in setting up the tooling to make the telescope. He gives sufficient detail so that one can actually walk through his process and see why and how the parts fit together. Reading this book may be the closest the reader will come to building a telescope without actually doing so.

Now the relatively weak area: Suppose we found a book on novel writing by a mid 20th century writer.
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Format: Paperback
This was my bible back in 1966 when I made my first mirror, an 8". At that time, there were a lot of things I just couldn't grasp as a sophomore in high school. However, with the help of a friend with lots of experience, I got over the rough parts and made a pretty decent mirror. I can't comment on the latest edition as I don't know how much was updated from that tried and true technology from so long ago. All I know is that the version published in the 60's was relevant and accurate.

This is the book from which I learned at least one new vocabulary word, "tyro." I had to look it up. The rest of the language was well explained including all the optical terms that are a regular part of my language today.

If nothing else, this is a solid book to start out telescope making. It should be used in conjunction with other books on the subject to give you a more rounded view on making your first mirror. However, it stands on its own as a mirror-makers bible. It may not have the depth of math the Texereau book or a few of the others does, but it gets the job done. Worked for me. Highly recommended.
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