The call came about a week before Christmas... "You remember the Telescope Expo last month," the voice asked? "Well you won one of the door prizes!" The call was from Lunt Solar Systems who was supplying the prize, one of the premier makers of specialty narrow-band solar filters. I had visions of a new solar-viewing telescope, and I barely heard the woman explain that my prize was, in fact, a 70mm diameter telescope suitable for someone beginning in astronomy. And while I would have loved to have one of these babies 45 years ago (in fact, I saved my money for something very similar back then), I'm a little past a scope like this. But I picked it up today at lunch, and talked my way into a killer tour of the facility where they actually polish the etalon filter surfaces and telescope optics in house. I actually got to look over the shoulder of company owner Andrew Lunt as he sun-tested a newly-built telescope-filter system. It was way-cool!
But I did take the chance to check the product out... The door prize looks to be pretty well made, a Vixen Telescope, achromatic lens, with a couple decent looking eyepieces giving 35X and 70X. At least it wasn't like the department store telescope from long ago that bragged 254X! So I needed to find a youngster that would be able to put this to good use. While I have a couple great-nieces and a nephew about the right ages, I have dreams of actually making some small scopes some day for them, and it would be so much cooler to have a scope made by Uncle Dean than a commercial one supplied by him... So we brought it to the TAAA meeting tonight - a great talk by former Palomar Observatory outreach coordinator Scott Kardel talking about the history of that great telescope. After the meeting I announced I had a new telescope for someone about 12 or 13. Irene Kitzman raised her hand saying she had 11 and 13-year-old grandsons, so she will forward it along to them. I feel much better knowing that it will be put to good use by some kids. Thanks to Vixen and Lunt Solar Systems!