|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 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 and/or our FAQs page.
This past year and a half has 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! I have a few tweaks in mind I will be trying 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|