A Visit to Stellafane

If you love telescopes or telescope making this is the world famous event

It is a yearly event that goes on in Springfield Vermont and it has been going on for 75 years now. People come to see the telescopes they have, to show the telescopes they have made and to learn about telescope making. They have a lot of events including mirror grinding classes, a walk of the solar system, tours of the various observatories and of course lots of night time viewing through the various telescopes. . You can learn more about them by visiting their website: Stellafane.org

It is something that I have been wanting to visit since I was a teenager and I finally got the chance to go. And it was a remarkable experience. And I have two mirrors that I will be making into telescopes (4 1/4, and 8″).

This is a picture of me looking through one of the hundreds of telescopes that were there.

There were so many different types of scopes there ranging from 4 inch dobs to a massive 32 inch dob! And of course there were lots of mounts including forks, equatorials and more.

I also saw a couple of very nice Celestrons and Meades! But there weren’t a whole lot of store bought telescopes. The point of this convention is self made scopes! And there were a lot of those.

Stellafane is famous for a lot of different reasons including the most famous amateur telescope ever made. It is the Porter Turret telescope and it is quite unique

This is the Porter Turret Telescope: It was completed in 1930 and some of what makes it unique is that the primary objective mirror is at the end of the metal boom in the lower right of the picture.

The observer sits inside the dome where it can be kept comfortable warm without affecting the quality of the image.

Here is the Primary mirror at the end of the objective.

And here is a look inside where the astronomer can comfortably stay out of the elements.

About the Convention and the Experience

It is quite a wonderful event with all kinds of interesting stuff about telescopes and telescope making and one of the best things was the swap meet. They had dozens of people with tables and all kinds of telescope making parts, equipment and books. Just amazing. You could find all kinds of hard to find parts like tubes, eyepieces, mirrors, grinds and more.

The grounds are large and there are several different observing sites so you get a map and you should scope things out during the day. I mean you should walk around to everything and every observing site so that during the night when you want to find the telescopes it is much easier. They have some dark skies and dark nights up there and of course all you are allowed is a red flashlight!

They also have plenty of camping right near the observing grounds so you can pay for a camping permit (cost me $70 dollars. And you can park and pitch a tent. There are plenty of hotels and motels within a reasonable distance but It seemed like a good idea to me to camp there because I would be up until 2 or 3 in the morning observing and then? I wouldn’t want to drive to a hotel! That way I could just retire to my tent which is what I did!

On to the Telescopes!!!

I have put together a page of telescope pictures if you want to check them out! These are just some of the home made scopes that were at Stellafane.