As the Cold War spun down, Russian engineers and scientists were finding that the government could no longer
utilize their skills. While economically devasting to many, some were able to parlay their talents into other venues.
Such was the case for an elite group of master opticians, whose previous assignments included the design and
production of satellite surveilance systems. So advanced were the instruments of their creation, that many of the
American eqivalents (and their capabilities) remain classified to this day!

These opticians formed two unrelated companies, Intes and Intes-Micro, and began production of high grade optical
instruments, initially specializing in Maksutov designs... Maksutov-Cassegrains and Maksutov-Newtonians... more
familiarly refered to as Mak-Casses and Mak-Newts. Amateur astronomers worldwide began to embrace these
telescopes, recognizing the superb optical qualities and tremendous value they represented. While some models
require special orders and custom fabrication (the above scope required a four month build period), many are now
readily available, thanks to the efforts of several visionaries!

The telescope in the above image was made by Intes-Micro, and its MN86 nomenclature denotes it as a Mak-Newt
design with an 8" (203mm) diameter mirror operating at f/6.0 (this particular scope is f/5.9). A rear-mounted fan
draws air through a filtered ring which surrounds the meniscus (a lens at the front of the scope), providing relatively
fast thermally stable performance (typically gives pleasing views within 30 to 45 minutes after set-up).
  
The MN86 shares visual/imaging duties with my
Astro-Physics AP160, AP175, and AP Traveler, and a pair of PSTs
(Ha and CaK).  
The MN86 8" Mak-Newt and AP900GTO Mount
My helpful companion realizes the virtues of a mask, as he patiently waits with one in hand... er, paw! Placed on the scope
(NOT over the old geezer's face!), the
Hartmann mask is a superb aid to determine the point of critical focus. For
information about this and many other helpful topics, visit the
Digital Astro egroup.

The past few years have been quite hectic, allowing little opportunity to gather and process astro-images (solar observing
and imaging is one of my passions), with scarcely enough time to tend to public outreach efforts (an activity I enjoy
immensely). With travel and other workplace demands now more under control, I hope to soon resume
my solar work. The
setup was modified at Coronado prior to their aquisition by Meade, etalons and Blocking Filter carefully matched under the
discriminating eyes of Bill Dean, to its current configuration of 90/90/30: large-aperture sub 0.5 Angstrom solar H-a
Nirvana
... Woo Hoo! The whole shebang has been freshly overhauled (summer 2013) and re-checked by Meade's
Mexican Coronado facility. I have a few tweaks in mind to try with the SBIG ST11K setup to capture large-scale, ultra
high-res solar H-a images (
small scale sample taken before my hiatus)

C'mon down to shmooze and enjoy the views with me at
NEAF (New York), HOTS (Irvine, CA), and other major (and some
not-so-big) solar-geek venues throughout the year!

13th Annual New Haven Science Fair: As chair of STARS (an educational outreach arm of the
Astronomical Society of New Haven) I once again had the honor of reviewing astronomy related projects entered into the
Bayer/Olin New Haven Science Fair
at Yale. This annual city-wide event is comprised of individual, team, and classroom
categories that have made it to this level from previous competition. The participants hail from grades K thru 12. With
limited school budgets and diminishing public resources, it is most important that we in the private sector continue to
encourage more young minds to dare reaching for the stars and beyond!
FIRST...a quick word about monitor adjustment!!!
The images on this site display a wide range of intensities and have been processed with a calibrated
monitor (Adobe). To assure a similar level of detail, adjust your monitor so as to see all 16 bars in the
following grayscale pattern. If you see less than 16, you will be missing details in the ensuing images.
Welcome to Astro-nut.com!
Paul Hyndman (AKA: Astro-nut)
Using the Hartmann focusing mask