Once again, I have been away quite a while from my blogging.  I’ll be posting more often now though.  So many things have happened since my last post in June regarding my Criterion RV-6.  The whole scope has been completely restored, to better than new condition actually.  I had the whole process well documented though, which can be seen here.


So this summer I have been thoroughly enjoying using this telescope, it’s the finest 6 inch Newtonian I have ever looked through.  I have also upgraded many of my eyepieces as well to suit the RV-6.  I have a few main eyepieces that I use on it.  My low power “wide field” eyepiece is  a GSO 32mm Plossl. This is really a great eyepiece for the money. Fully Multicoated, excellent transmission, etc.  I have a mid power eyepiece, an Astro Tech Paradigm 12mm.  These Paradigm eyepieces have become very popular for their unbelievable quality for their price, only $60 each in all the focal lengths, from 25mm to 5mm.  They have a 60 degree field of view, and are very well corrected. I only have the 12mm right now, but I’ll definitely be getting more of these.  Available here.

I’ve been making many sketches too, all with the RV-6.  I also was able to go up to Prescott AZ for some very dark skies with this telescope, it was a real treat; things that could be barely seen from La Verne were bright and detailed from Arizona.  It’s no wonder this state is filled with observatories and amateur astronomers!

At the end of the summer, I recieved a very large telescope- a 12.5″ reflector.  This scope is a Meade Research Grade 12.5″ F/6 Newtonian on a GEM.  Yes, it’s a mouthful.  The scope when I recieved it was in pretty good condition for the most part, just needed a really good cleanup. I finished in only 8 days! See that restoration here.


Now, this scope is absolutely huge! and is taller than me (pictures soon).  Here’s a photo of the Meade next to the 6″:

meade and criterion

The telescope only takes a few minutes to set up, as it has casters on the legs, it can be rolled about and put away easily too.  So, I’ve been doing quite a bit of stuff lately, I’ve been observing almost every chance that I can get.  I have been getting up about 4:30 in the morning to see all the winter objects like the Orion Nebula, M37 star cluster, etc before it gets too cold outside.  I have seen Jupiter with the 12.5, that was a real treat, a wealth of detail is visible, including (easily) the Great Red Spot.  The one drawback of this telescope is that it requires a stepladder in many cases, but what’s good is that it has rotatable rings, so the scope can be rotated to where it’s more comfortable view at.

So now the weekend is here! Time to take these scopes out for some viewing.  Also, tomorrow is the SIA Expo in Woodland Hills, CA.  Looks like it’s going to be a fun event, hopefully I’ll be able to go tomorrow.  Website here.

I also have some news regarding the 4″ F/12 planet killer that I did- it’s a dud! I found that looking closer at the mirror’s coated surface that a large grayish mass was in the center – due to pits not removed from polishing.  I saw this when I got the mirror back from the coating company, but I had hoped for the best.  The good news was that it did throw up an image, but unfortunately not a very good one.  When the star is focused there disk of fuzzy light around it.  Also, it doesn’t take magnification very well. The mount was very wobbly, it was better to just sit down and hold the tube in hand than to use it on the mount.  The finderscope that I put on it was way too small to even find anything.  But you know, even after all that work and determination, I’m not really that upset.  I have done something else with it- I have started the project from scratch and have decided to do it again.

It’s very common for the first mirror someone makes to not be very good, or even work at all.  So I think this time around, It will go much smoother and quicker, as I have done it once before I know what to do / not to do.  I have already ground to 220 grit and am right on track for exactly F/12 (48″).  I plan to built an equatorial mount and mount it in a different, more rigid tube assembly.  If this is done well, this scope should be a real “planet killer”!  Also, 48″ isn’t all that long- I can still get the magnification down pretty low with the eyepieces that I have, as well as it being able to take a good amount of power, and it should be sharp sharp sharp!


New Project: Criterion RV-6

Hi everyone, well it’s been a LONG time since I’ve posted, but now that school’s out, let the blogging commence! Anyway, I recently acquired a vintage reflector from a really nice guy, a Criterion RV-6 Dynascope.  I read up on these, and they apparently were top of the line back in the day (1950’s to the late 1970’s).  The RV-6 is a 6 inch F-8 Newtonian Reflector on an equatorial mount with a plug in motor drive for star tracking.  Top of the line back in the day, before the company’s demise with the rising popularity in the late 70’s.

So this is my summer project, restoration of this beautiful telescope.  I took it out for first light a few weeks ago, just as is (after of course cleaning the mirror as it was very dirty with all sorts of material I didn’t know what it was).  I got it roughly polar aligned.  The motor drive plugs into a standard outlet, and functions very well for it’s age (at this time, I did not know the precise date of this particular telescope). The view? Phenomenal.  My first target was Saturn, and plainly showed 4 moons, and this was not a very clear night.  Banding on the planet was obvious, as well as detail in Saturn’s rings.  Very pleasing, refractor-like images and sharpness. Collimating well is the key to better views in even cheap telescopes, but when you collimate well with a scope like this, it’s awesome.

My next target was M13, the famous sparkling globular in Hercules.  Now remember, where I live, there is very severe light pollution, and pulling detail out of deep sky objects, even bright ones is a challenge.  But, having good eyes has helped, I’ve pulled M81 and M82 out of my Observer 70mm from here in La Verne, which is quite an accomplishment I’ve heard.  Some people struggle with acquiring this in a 6 inch scope, but a 70mm? Wow.  Where were we? Yes! M13 with the RV-6.  My Orion Expanse 15mm eyepiece yields about 80x in this scope, and the view was spectacular. Very bright, round, on the verge of some resolution even at such a power as low as 80 (which is rather low for observing DSO’s. Averting my vision in various directions will make the glob “grow” and brighten, and make it very grainy.  The most satisfying part of the view was that it wasn’t moving! I’m sure I’ll discover that when seated (this scope’s designed to have the user remain seated) and tracking, I’ll pull out much more detail.  Mating the barlow lens with the 15mm yields about 160x.  Now it was getting interesting.  With direct vision,  the glob took up about 1/6 of the field.  Averted and direct showed numerous faint member coming out of the backround.  When it’s averted, the glob gets huge! So there you have it, my first light of the classic RV-6 Dynascope.

The RV-6 when I first received it

The RV-6 when I first received it

So, before I got into it, I knew I should make a scheduled plan of what to do and how to do it.  I made an immediate decision to refurbish the OTA before the mount, which would simplify things right from the start. First off, the condition the tube is in needed a lot of cosmetic help, meaning paint and hardware.  Some tape had been put on the tube as a marker to show where to put on the tube rings for balance.  Well, they were stuck on there good, I don’t know what kind of tape it was, but I pulled off a good amount of it, and sanded the rest down.  I had already decided to give the scope a brand new paint job, so I used the existing paint as a sort of primer, and sanded it really smooth.  The tube is a kind of cardboard, called bakelite back when it was first invented.  All in good condition, except for a small piece scraped off at the edge of the top of the tube.  For the paint, I did not want a bright glossy white, but rather I chose a glossy (not original) Vintage White color, from Rustoleum.  Took 2 cans to do, and also will be needing a clear-coat as a finish.  So right now with that, I’m making sure the white is completely dry for the last coat.


Post paint

I also painted the 6x30mm finderscope in the same color as the tube, and it looks great, but, the side of the tube is engraved with “Criterion”, and it might prove difficult to repaint this back to black.  If things continue going at this pace, expect to see a completely refurbished, put back together, working RV-6 by hopefully the beginning of July.  I think the tube will be finished rather soon as there really isn’t much to do there, just cleaning, and minor paint touch-ups here and there, nothing big, but I think it’ll look awesome when this project is done, and also, a great scope to use!