Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dobsonians: More for Your Money?

During the 1970s, an avid amateur astronomer named John Dobson began building large, standard Newtonian reflectors (10-inch mirrors were typical) and cutting costs by mounting them not on elaborate and expensive equatorial mounts but on inexpensive altazimuth mounts. Dollars were invested in optics and aperture—lightgathering ability—rather than in fancy mounting hardware and clock drives to aid in tracking objects. The result was a powerful reflecting telescope with a wide field of view.

Very nice Dobsonians can be purchased in the $300 to $1,000 range, or you could see if your local amateur astronomy club offers workshops in making your own telescope. Many astronomy club members make their own Dobsonians. Is there a Dobsonian downside? Some users find the simple altazimuth mount—which lacks the ability to track objects—too limiting.

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