Amateur Telescope Making
When Galileo made the first telescope, he was an amateur at telescope making. He was in the same place as
you probably are. That is, he was interested in the sky and the stars and was curious about how to better see
what was up in the night sky. So he decided to make a device that would let him do just that and the first
telescope was born.
Today, you can easily buy a telescope, but for the amateur astronomer, telescope making is an exciting
venture that they deeply want to try. And the truth is that you can make your own telescope although it
might prove to be an undertaking that takes up a lot of time and technicalities. However, if you are an
amateur who is interested in telescope making, then good for you! That means you’re adventurous.
Building a telescope isn't difficult, but it is much easier if you have the help of someone who has made a few
before, so consider getting a mentor. If you don't know of anyone who builds telescopes, try a local
astronomy club. Many astronomy clubs have at least a couple of members who have built telescopes, and in
my experience most people are eager to help out beginners.
Amateur telescope making can be a painstaking process, so be patient and don’t panic. Some of the greatest
discoveries have been made through trial and error. You may want to check a few books out before you
start as you need to know the mechanics of a telescope before you get started. There are a lot of good books
out there on amateur telescope making and you can probably find many of them at your local library.
As far as the supplies you need to make your telescope, you are going to need mirror, lenses, housing for the
whole thing, materials for polishing your mirror, mounting, and much more. Many of these materials can be
purchased at a hobby shop or online. You can try to grind your own mirror if you want to, but be aware this
is a painstaking process.
Amateur telescope making is a long, slow process. Work neatly. Every mess you avoid making is one less
that you have to clean up later. Spread lots of newspaper around to catch loose grit. Keep a log describing
what you did, and for how long. This can be useful in later stages of figuring when you might work for just a
few minutes at a time. It is easy to forget what you are doing and what you tried.
Amateur telescope making can be a very satisfying process for the amateur astronomer. But instead of
buying each piece separately, you may also want to consider buying a kit.
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