Losmandy GM11
Celestron C11 SCT OTA
Takahashi FC-100 Refractor

This is the primary observation and imaging telescope of the Richard Feynman Observatory. In the picture above, you see the observatory set up for taking film and CCD images. The Takahashi FC-100 has an Olympus OM-1, 35mm camera attached to it. The 11" Celestron C11 SCT has an SBIG ST-7 CCD camera attached.. With this setup, the OM-1 can be capturing a wide field emulsion image while the ST-7 is guiding and capturing a narrower field, digital image. To the left of the telescope we have the control center. A Compaq subnotebook computer with an external monitor serves ST-7 CCD camera. Beside the computer lies the RA/Dec control paddle for the GM11 and the DRO controller for the JMI NGF-S focuser attached to the GM11. The large silver colored thing around the GM11 keeps the dew off the corrector lens. Similar shields are available for the Takahashi and the finder scopes when needed. The black and white poster boards on the stick resting on the ladder in background serve two purposes. Primarily, the boards are used to block a nearby street light. Secondarily, the lower, white sheet is used for CCD flat fielding.
Mounted on the GM11 itself is the GM11 table. This table holds the JMI NGC-Max Digital Setting Circle Computer, the GM11 control box and the SBIG power supply and relay interface. To learn how to make a GM11 (or any telescope pier) table, click on the image.
The GM11 with its full load of telescopes and cameras is kept on a wheeled platform. To learn more about this platform, click on the image. Sitting on the platform is a homemade Hartmann focusing mask for the C11.

11" Celestron C11 SCT OTA
This Celestron GC11 was purchased new from Company 7 after reading their review. Buying telescopes can often be a crap shoot, particularly with the larger manufacturers like Celestron and Meade. I choose to buy from Company 7 because of their stated polices of testing all telescopes before they are shipped to the customer. They charge more than everyone else for the same thing, but the peace of mind seemed worth the extra cost.

When my C11 arrived, it would not hold collimation. I would collimate East. When I moved the scope west, it would be out of collimation. When I asked Company 7 about this, the said "It was fine when it left here. Do not mess with it." I sent the telescope to Celestron. Celestron reported that the primary mirror was loose. They fixed it and returned in after six weeks. Was the primary loose when the telescope left Company 7? It is hard to tell. I do know that not all the staples on the inner OTA cardboard box had been broken open. Some had been and some had not been. I had to break them all open to get the OTA out of the box.

The C11 seems to have fair optics. It has a lot of light grasp and does an excellent job at CCD imaging. It will show me the six star of the Trapezium with out any effort. The Cassini Division and Crape rings of Saturn are clearly visible even on nights with below average seeing. The OTA has had flock paper installed inside it to cut down on internal reflections. This job was done by Cory Suddarth of Orion.

After nearly a year of serving me well, the primary mirror came lose again. This time, I decided to try to fix it myself. With great caution, I disassembled the OTA and examined the mirror mounting. I found that the monstrous glass mirror sits on cylindrical mirror mount. The space between the mirror mount and the mirror is filled with RTV. This RTV can come loose and cause the mirror to shift just a bit as it is moved around the sky. It appeared that re-mounting the mirror would required special tooling. Rather than attempt this, I choose simple, but radical, hack repair. The focus arm reaches out from the mirror mount across the mirror. I filled the space between this arm and mirror with gobs and gobs of RTV. The idea being to give the mirror more support. It took almost a week for this mess of RTV to set. I am happy to report the results are positive. The OTA stays in collimation and no bad side effects have been observed.

4" Takahashi FC-100 Refractor
This telescope was obtained in a trade deal. The optics on this little telescope are outstanding. Even though it has a much smaller aperture, its optical quality and the lack of a central obstruction often make it my preferred telescope for visual use. It's image are not nearly as bright as those produced by the C11, but the contrast and razor sharp images more than make for the lack of aperture.

Takahashi telescopes are not only of excellent optical quality but they also have superb mechanics. The focuser in smooth as silk, robust, accurate and repeatable. There is a full line of accessories available for this scope including large and small format camera adapters, focal reducers, barlow, eyepiece projection hardware and that wonderful camera rotator.

The Takahashi or the Traveler. Which is a better telescope? It is hard to say. They are both show superb quality. They are also different. The Traveler is f/5.8. The Takahashi is f/8. The Traveler folds down to 19" inches. The Takahashi is nearly a yard long. They serve different purposes. The Traveler travels. The Takahashi is right at home on top of the C11. I would not want to be without either of them.

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