What’s in a Name?
What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

Two mounts, three laptops, and more cameras than I can count!
Ivan II and Victoria visiting a North Carolina Observatory (PARI)

A good friend of mine was telling me how her husband gives his musical instruments names, usually that of a woman. She asked if that was a “guy” thing because it’s not something that made sense to her. No, I said, naming your guitar “Meg” does not make any sense to me either. I name my telescopes though… well of course I do, that makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Doesn’t everyone?

I’ve lost count of how many telescopes I’ve owned in my lifetime, so this blog will be a chance for me to reconcile this deficiency in my record keeping. The current crop includes:

Ivan II
Ivan the 2nd, is the successor to Ivan the first, also known as Crazy Ivan. I must explain. Ivan is a 190mm f/5.3 Mak-Newt. Great imaging scope. I named the first one Ivan because of the Russian optical design. Ivan the first however had a case of mirror flop and rather than try and fix it myself, Orion insisted on sending me a brand new one. Cudo’s for their tech support on that issue. The successor Ivan II has been retrofitted with a Moonlight focuser, anodized red to match my Paramounts.

My Takahashi FC-76. A classic refractor I bought from a young man selling off his deceased father’s astronomy equipment. He came to the Mid Atlantic Star Party where I was speaking one year and we haggled for over an hour, with me repeatedly making trips back to fawn over her. I told him what she was worth, but could only pay a fraction. I promised a loving home and that it would not be on Astromart at a profit the next week. He apparently needed the money. I’m so ashamed…. Well I was honest with him, she has a good home as long as I live. I told my friend who was with me, “she’s the finest refractor made by man!”. “I shall call her Vera”. Jayne Cobb would approve…

This fun little green 4.5” dob is one of those Orion Starblast scopes. I bought it for my kids years ago, but it’s just a sweet little thing to whip out, pop on the hood of your car and take a quick look at the moon or big bright star clusters. The best scope in your collection is often the one you have with you.

Big Momma
A big white AstroTech 8” f/4 newtonian. My first dedicated astrograph. Big Momma is short for a 8” mirror and it lends the appearance of being fatter than she really is. She’s a bit sloppy, hard to collimate and the focuser shifts a bit. At f/4 through she makes a mean meal out of faint fuzzies. Big Momma just fits. This scope is for sale and I plan to unload her at the swap meet at the Winter Star Party next week (hint hint)

Poor Junior lost his dad. I picked up a 6” refractor at NEAF one year used. Got it for a song and as a visual scope it did fine. A 6” refractor is a big beast and I named him Big Daddy. Junior was picked up used at the Winter Star Party a few years ago, and is an 80mm f/12 guide scope. Junior looked like a miniature version of Big Daddy, and for a time we had a big family in the shed. Big Daddy turned out to be lousy at imaging however and I sold him to a fellow member of the local astronomy club for use as a visual scope. Junior remains in my collection and actually delivers fine visual images. Comparing Junior to an 8” LX-200 was what won me over to refractors… the view of Saturn was stunning. Junior sometimes serves as a guide scope, sometimes as a nice easy to set up refractor for planets or lunar observing.

Monday morning at GMARS
Victoria at a great desert imaging site (GMARS)

Ah, my queen. The Officina Stellare Riccardi Honders 200mm f/3 flat field wonder. I’ve spent many nights with this fine lady and she will always be my favorite. Victoria is my only scope that sleeps in the house with me. Should I ever fall on really hard times, you can have her when you pry her from my cold dead fingers…


Doesn't everyone start with one of these?
Doesn’t everyone start with one of these?

Big Red
My first telescope. A department store “Trash Scope” I received for Christmas many years ago. Despite it’s less than world class construction and optics, it was cherished for many years and showed me many wonders of the sky for the first time. I learned a lot of astronomy with this guy and it made me appreciate all the more when I started to acquire finer equipment later in life. I still have this scope in my shed.

Marlboro Man
My first upgrade from Big Red. An Edmund Scientific 4.5” newtonain I purchased from a camera repair shop that had it on consignment for $50.00. I wrapped black electrical tape around the eyepieces from Big Red to make them fit in the 1.25” focuser tube. The mirror looked like they had to scrape the wet leaves off of it before bringing it in out of the rain. Never-the-less, it was such a huge leap forward from Big Red for me. I was simply flabbergasted the first time I saw M42 with it.

I have eight telescopes? Geez and I forgot a little 80mm AstroTech I won as a door prize recently. He is the unnamed one until I’ve used it for the first time. The names just come to me. No, that’s not weird either, don’t be jealous because the voices only talk to me!

So, the current count stands at nine, although a couple of these guys are retired, but kept for sentimentality sake. Let us remember (and count) those who have come before, that have either been sold, handed down, or donated to charity:

W.E.T. – The Wright Earth Telescope – A Meade 8″ f/8 Starfinder
DOBBY – an 8″ Meade Dobsonian
Anubis – a black carbon fiber beauty – 80mm f/6 refractor
Big Daddy – A Celestron 150HD Refractor
Roboscope – A Meade LX-200 GPS, now belongs to my son.
Crazy Ivan – A tragically short lived Mak-Newt.

That’s 15 in all… not counting a few little miscellaneous spotters, a few weird do-dads I’ve picked up at swap meets, and a hand held “toy” I received for Christmas when I was eight years old. I should count that one too. I held it steady on a tree branch and looked at the moon with it. Changed my life forever….