Tony Puerzer, Nanaimo Astronomy Society vice-president, pauses while setting up his telescope to show a photo he took of the moon to budding astronomer Dashiell Scott and his mom Marlis McCargar. (Photo courtesy Tony Puerzer)

Learn to build a telescope with Nanaimo Astronomy Society

Learn how to build or improve a telescope at the society’s meeting Thursday, June 27

Anyone who has ever wondered about building their own telescope or how to get better quality imaging from an existing one won’t want to miss Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting this week.

Bill Weller, society director, and Tony Puerzer, vice-president, will give separate presentations June 27 on how to build a telescope and the basic of using telescopes, including visual and electronic observing that include a rundown of types of telescopes and how they work and software and gear for making observations electronically.

“Bill Weller, our retired professional astronomer … he’s going to do a little section beginning on your basic department store telescope that people buy … and some of the issues with it because they’re usually quite wiggly, they’ve got cheap tripods and all that kind of thing,” said Puerzer. “So he’s going to show a way of doing a home-built wooden tripod that vastly improves the OK department store telescopes.”

Club member Fraser Lee is going to demonstrate the Dobsonian design telescope – one of the “best bangs for the buck” for people who want to do visual astronomy.

Chris Boar, society president, will bring a high-end telescope and demonstrate electronically assisted astronomy, employing digital still and video cameras.

Puerzer said he tried creating a 15-centimetre diameter reflector type telescope when he was a teenager, grinding the mirror form from scratch for a design he could use for wide-field observations, similar to the field of view one might see through a pair of binoculars. The process was long and tedious, Puerzer said, he never achieved the design goal he was after and ended up giving the telescope away.

He said department store telescopes might be inexpensive and have poor tripods, but they do have good quality lenses.

“The lenses of these cheap telescopes are really good. It’s just the mechanicals of it are junk … what I’ll do, though, is take the tube and mount it on my fancy, shmancy mount,” he said.

Following discussions and demonstrations on improving telescope image quality, the meeting will wrap up with a discussion on some of the best celestial objects for beginning astronomers to observe and practice on.

“I remember when I first got my scuba diving certificate and I just assumed that wherever you jumped in the ocean it was going to be great, right?” Puerzer said. “We went to a lake once and the only things were, like, old tires and beer cans on the bottom and a big mat of leaves, so I’m like, ‘OK, I guess that’s why there’s dive sites for that.’ It’s the same thing. You want to go to the highlights.”

Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s June meeting happens Thursday, June 27, 7 p.m. at Beban Park social centre.

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