It’s been quite interesting up here at Stellafane. I’ve seen demos of a really nice DOuble pass autocollimation test.

A fellow whose email is Moonward had a much cuter, quieter, and lighter aluminizer / vacuum chamber than ours but only 7 years younger; obtained the same way as ours, via surplus giveaways from some agency discarding it.

He uses ferric chloride instead of HCl. He’d never heard of Alconox. Uses calcium carbonate slurry or else … I forget what; hope I wrote it down

I got to follow along with the optical judges. Those guys are really sharp on Star tests. The eight scopes entered had optics that were either very good or excellent. Contrary to what some folks have told me, the judges are not heartless. One of them, Francis O’Reilly, who is also Stellafane Vice President, and who had visited our telescope making workshop to see what we were up to there (at the Former woodshop of the Chevy Chase Community) and had some mirrors aluminized, asked me specifically to come up and see how they judge projects optically.

I am so glad that Francis did!

Too bad I didn’t get to look at cruddy mirrors as well. But no junk got submitted this year to us judges. I thought the images inside & out of focus looked very similar to what I’ve read in Souter and in Piekiel. I hope I can remember well enough what these looked like so that when I star test a poor mirror, then I can recall how they differ. This being my first time attempting to make a judgement, I put down no numbers. (They gave scores on a scale of 0.0 to 5.0 (best) on five criteria: contrast, symmetry, edge, and two more. I didn’t get to keep any of the papers.

No mirrors over 8″, and only one entry in the complex optical category – a schiefspueglet. I didn’t get the opportunity to look thru it. I spent a lot of time just waiting in line to look thru a scope, which is not exactly efficient. Plus, so did the contestants: they had to spend a lot of time waiting in the dark for us to show up. Fixable with a little better planning I think.

I’m not going to post pix because I’m out in the woods of VT; cell reception is 1/4 (low bandwidth) the nearest town, Springfield, is small, and actually produces a very small light dome. The Milky Way was great! Right overhead most of the night (I finally got a lift part way back to my tent around 2am.) but some high clouds as a part of a slow warm front did start coming in. Almost no dew; I wore shorts, sandals, T-shirt, and sometimes sweatshirt. Very comfy esp compared to New Mexico or DC.

So later with pix. This is off top of head in a quiet moment while it’s still fresh.

So all I got to look at last night was the bright Star Altair, rolling the focus inside and outside, with really short focal length eyepieces. In a grand total of six telescopes. out of ten submitted.

Looking at the rings of the Airy disks and rings around the star as you roll the focus of the eyepiece away from the perfect image point and then back inside. So, no, I didn’t get to view anything else in the Sky. I shoulda brought some binoculars; the sky was nice. But I was busy a good fraction of the time. If it were me, I would not have us go out in teams of 4-5, but maybe of two.

This sort of a test is the most objective one of the entire telescope. But it’s hard to do. The setup can take an incredibly long time, and the weather conditions have to be excellent: clear, steady skies, no or very little wind. And we had all of those conditions last night, which was very lucky. summer evenings in Vermont can be so beautiful, as I remember from my own long-ago years of school and work in New England.

It’s so sad to see all the empty factories just below downtown Springfield, in what was called Precision Valley in my time as a Dartmouth undergrad (1967-71). I joined SDS when I was there because they were the ones fighting against what we saw as the immoral and imperialist American war in Vietnam, and we were looking for allies in a general struggle for a more just and democratic socity, against exploitation, racism, unjust wars,m. But the War in Vietnam really focused our attention, especially since we were likely to be drafted to go fight in a war we considered unjust, and that we didn’t want to fight. (I certainly would have volunteered in WW2 and to defend the Union; but the US has also fought a lot of wars that were just plain wrong.)

we made some steps towards doing just that with blue-collar workers like the ones here at Jones & Lampson, Bryant Chucking Grinder; they were represented by the United Electrical Workers Union, which was NOT corrupt, and had leftists of some sort in its leadership. So when those workers went on strike, we in SDS did what we could to help, raising some money and walking on picket lines. It’s pretty cold striking in winter in Vermont!

This Stellafane organization is huge. I read that attendance is around 1,000 people, which makes it pretty crowded. Food isn’t nearly as good as AHSP; it’s all a la carte (hamburgers, cheese steaks, fries, scrambled eggs, etc) except for a lobster and steamer clam dinner ordered in advance (it was really, really good!). But it sure beats cooking and all the mess that entails. Lots and lots of people up here have made one or more scopes, or parts of one, or had a relative who did. At least a fraction of women and girls and other young people camping out and observing, but 8 of the judging staff were older white guys like me; two women.

Too bad I didn’t get to look at cruddy mirrors as well. There will be time for that later! Need to set that up in our shop. Just wish it didn’t take an hour and a half to set up, with help!

Today going to talks / demos of well-functioning bath interferometer and spray silvering!!!! Alan T took the lead in setting up a Bath interferometer at our lab, but we ended up not being really happy with it. Hopefully this demo will make sense.

I have already talked a bit with Peter Pekurar, who is going to be doing the spray-on silvering (NOT aluminizing!!!). He also says he has figured out how to prevent the silver from tarnishing! Amazing! And it’s cheap! (How cheap I’ll discover later)

He had a regular $2.99 mirror that he FRONT- silvered and put back into its frame, some time ago, as a demo. Completely untarnished. Unlike the few pieces of silver we have in our family, and which require constant polishing to keep shiny, this was shinier than the average bathroom mirror, because the light doesn’t have to pass through the glass twice. Amazing. The demo is 3-5 pm today.

I asked about how the procedure affects the figure of the mirror; he said they do interferograms AFTER the silvering, and they all pass with flying colors. Again, amazing.

I heard some criticism of Gary Seronik — the said that when he writes up telescopes in S&T, he never actually looks through them himself. He relies entirely on the builder. Seems to me that should always be required for that

Gotta go to bath! Not shower! Bath Ingram!