Back to All Events

Saved Copy of RCA General Meeting: Unusual Telescope Designs with Jerry Oltion

  • OMSI 1945 Southeast Water Avenue Portland, OR, 97214 (map)

[Note this a saved copy of the cancelled October 2018 event should we reschedule]

Since the time of Galileo, people have been trying to improve the design of telescopes, optimizing them for various uses and pushing the boundaries of what's possible. Not all of those innovations have been successful, but there have been some interesting side-roads on the path to the common Dobsonian. Sky & Telescope magazine Contributing Editor Jerry Oltion will take us on a tour of telescope design, starting with historical innovations and working forward to what we consider cutting edge today and what the future might bring. Jerry will also talk about the mental and physical process of designing and building a telescope, and making the transition from builder to observer when the scope is completed. Telescope making can be both frustrating and immensely rewarding; come see what lies in store for you if you fall down this particular rabbit hole!

Jerry and Trackball.JPG

Jerry Oltion has been a science fiction writer for most of his life. He got into astronomy about 15 years ago and soon after began grinding his own mirrors and building his own telescopes. He was an early adopter of fast focal ratios (his first scope was f/3.8), and he quickly fell in love with ball-mounted scopes. He designed a tracking system for them which he calls the "trackball" mount. He has built several unusual telescopes, many of which were featured in Sky & Telescope magazine. In 2016 he inherited the Telescope Workshop column from Gary Seronik and now writes about other people's interesting designs. On just about any clear night you can find Jerry out in the dark, looking up though one of his homemade scopes.