Telescope Building and Maintenance
TAAS has a very active group to help you build your own telescope or tune up your existing
scope to keep in in tip-top shape. Veteran TAAS members with decades of experience in telescope building
are at each meeting to help. Meetings are informal affairs, just bring your scope, your questions or your ideas
for lively discussion and serious help.
The group meets on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, 501 Elizabeth Street SE (Click here for a map) but make sure to check our calendar to be sure. The meetings are free and open to the public, no membership required but, be warned, after a few meetings, you'll want to join.
Get that scope working
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect about getting started in astronomy is to buy a telescope and not have it work properly. Often just simple tweaks and adjustments are enough to convert a dust-gathering, clothes horse in the corner into a telescope to bring the wonders of the heavens to you and yours. Just bring your scope in and let us help.
Build your own telescope
By far, most telescopes built by amateurs are Newtonain reflectors, based on a concept developed by Isaac Newton himself. The main component is a large thick primary mirror with a curved front surface. The light is gathered by this mirror and concentrated. A secondary mirror redirects the light to the eyepiece. For more details on the Newtonain telescope design click here.
You can begin building your scope by actually grinding the precise surface of the primary mirror or by purchasing a pre-finished mirror. Your primary mirror and other components are then assembled and mounted to make the completed scope.
Grind my own mirror?
Even though a telescope mirror surface must ground to within 1/100 the diameter of a hair, it's usually done by hand with no special tools. It does take technique, suitable glass and the right grinding materials. That's where our group can help. They will guide you step-by-step through the rewarding process of grinding, polishing, and finishing your mirror.
Today, there's no need to grind your own mirror. You can buy quality components, including the primary mirror at reasonable prices. Then you assemble the components into a scope to meet your precise needs. Again, our Telescope Building and Maintenance group is ready to help. Dozens of first-timers have built great scopes under their expert tutelage.