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SBO Small Telescopes
Open Deck or Star Parties
|| 24-INCH | 18-INCH | 16-INCH | HELIOSTAT | SMALL SCOPES | ANCILLARIES | | CATALOG ||
In addition to the large permanent pier-mounted telescopes, Sommers-Bausch Observatory also has smaller telescopes and observing equipment that may be quickly mounted on the equatorial piers (each with power receptacles) on the Open Observing Deck shown above. Alternately, they may be placed on tripods and taken out into the field for dark-sky observing and informal star-parties.
Note: References to the equipment included herein does not necessary constitute an endorsement of these products by the Sommers-Bausch Observatory or the University of Colorado.
SBO possesses two eight-inch diameter Schmidt-Cassegrain
telescopes. One is a Celestron
(on long-term loan from John Bally) that is mounted
piggyback on the 18-inch
telescope and used for CCD imaging. The second is a Meade (shown at left)
that can be either tripod- or pier-mounted. The equatorial
mount for the Meade is also used as a separate motor-driven
platform for 35-mm camera astrophotography.
Strictly speaking, the 8-inch
Schmidt camera from Celestron is not
really a telescope at all. There's no place for an observer
to see what the instrument is "seeing". Instead, one mounts
a small piece of 35mm film into a curved-surface magetic
holder, and then attaches the film holder at the focal plane
of the instrument through an access hatch. Exposures begin
the moment the observer removes the cover from the film
Although the camera comes with its own tracking equatorial mount, it has seen most of its use in past years mounted piggyback on the 24-inch telescope - essentially, using the large telescope as an accurate and very stable tracking platform. The extraordinarily wide-field of view of the Schmidt permits panoramic photography of the skies, such as this portrait of Halley's Comet passing the Pleiades, or this wide-field view showing the spiral arms of M31, the Andromeda Galaxy.
In 2001 we added the first new small telescopes to the
Observatory's collection in almost 30 years: two 5-inch
ETX-125 EC telescopes.
We've tried to put together packages that make these telescopes the most portable and generally versatile ever, including: manual or Autostar computer controls; full aperture solar filters; barlow and telecompressor lens accessories; portable battery pack; and 12-volt DC and AC adapter units for tapping into virtually any power source.
The telescopes may be used either on heavy-duty tripod mountings (equatorial or alt-azimuth) out in the field, or tabletop mounting (again, either equatorial or alt-az) wherever a convenient platform may be found, or equatorial mounting from our piers on the open observing deck.
The Observatory's two 5-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain Celestron telescopes
are the workhorses of our small telescope collection (and
they certainly show the signs of the wear!).
When mounted on the Open Observing Deck, their relatively-short focal lengths (see specs) permit observers to see the entire Moon at a glance, rather than only a few craters at a time through the larger scopes. In addition, their rugged lightweight construction makes them good choices for tripod mounting and transporting to dark sites for star-parties.
Also in 2001 we added our favorite portable telescope for
taking out in the field for backpacking: the Edmund Scientifics Astroscan
2001 telescope, with an aperture of 4 1/8 inches.
This novel and rugged little telescope doesn't need any form of tripod other than its own base, on which the ball of the base slides around almost like a Dobsonian. You won't get high magnification out of this scope, but you will get spectacular views of the moon, birds, and whatever.
Ancillaries include two different forms of finders, a solar projection screen, Barlow, tripod mount, and carrying case.
The Observatory's three Maksutov-Cassegrain Questars are
generally considered to be the "cadillacs" of small
telescopes. Although the small aperture, 3.5 inches in
diameter, only gathers half the light of the 5-inchers, the
telescopes produce extremely crisp images at all
The Questar's compact and integrated design, with through-the-eyepiece finder with flip-in solar filter, built-in 2X barlow lens, sliding light shade, and three-leg tripod mount, makes this instrument an ideal choice for easy transportation and set-up at remote sites - it's usually not necessary to bring lots of additional accessories, because almost everything is already built in. But users should beware - the controls for these scopes are quite different from the "standard" Cassegrain types, so a bit of practice is advisable before taking them out under dark skies!