COLLIMATION WORKSHOP AT THE SOUTH FLORIDA SCIENCE MUSEUM AND AQUARIUM

Stephen Schiff

What a wonderful afternoon was had by members of our club, on August 2nd, as we learned from Sam Storch some of the many aspects of collimating a telescope. Club members in attendance were Bob Guzauskas, Hans Heynau, Steve Telenzak, Sam Storch and myself. We met behind the Science Museum, in the Discovery III classroom and parked our vehicles on the concrete slab that we usually use for public observing on special nights at the Museum. In all, four telescopes were collimated. Bob's and Steve's scopes were in pretty good alignment, exhibiting the concentric circles off of the tiny ball bearing taped to the railing of an aluminum staircase outside of the classroom. None of our scope could come to focus within the classroom, so we had to bring the workshop outside. Hans' and my scope needed more work to achieve collimation. As soon as the secondary mirror was aligned properly, Hans was able to quickly adjust the thumb and lock screws behind the primary mirror, with Sam's help. What a beautiful sight it is to see those concentric circles after collimation is completed. Of course, the real test is to see how well the scope performs outside, if, or when we finally have decent observing conditions. My 10" Dob's secondary mirror was O.K., but my primary mirror really needed work. After about twenty minutes of twisting and turning adjustment and lock screws, collimation was finally achieve, as my scope passed the dreaded match head test. If you don't know what that is, ask Sam about it! All of us learned so much from the experience! Maybe collimating that scope isn't something that needs to be feared!