Telescopic Insanity

An odd thing has happened.  I bought another telescope.  This, in and of itself, is not surprising but people’s reactions are.  They seem to act as if I’ve gone crazy, lost my mind, or over done it.  I, of course, do not see where they’re coming from.  It’s just a simple Newtonian reflector on a German Equatorial Mount.  Here, take a look at it.  I see nothing crazy here.  Do you?  Of course not!


It’s a Meade DS-16.  It was made in the late 70 or 80s.  It has a 16″ f4.5 mirror.  This was one of Meade’s cheaper “Deep Sky” scopes.  As a result the mirrors were not guaranteed to be as good as their more expensive scopes and the design is about as simple as you can get.  Still it makes for an effective light bucket.  The mirror itself weighs a scant 35 lbs and the total scope weighs around 250 lbs.  The optical tube, the blue cardboard thing, is only about 66 in long and has a diameter of 19 in.  It would fit nicely next to a relatively small 60 gallon water heater in your garage.

It all started when I was browsing the astronomy forum Cloudy Nights.  Someone had posted a for sale ad that I happened to find.  I debated it for a while but then my wife forced me to go get it.  I drove to my parents house and then, with my dad, drove to Oak Ridge, TN to pick it up.  We managed to fit it into a small SUV and returned to their house.  My dad and I securely wrapped it up for the return trip home.


The mirror rode in the passenger’s seat to give it a softer ride.  This worked well for a while until I felt a warmth on the side of my face.  Guess I’d better cover the mirror.


Speaking of the mirror and the scope, it is not in like new condition.  Its probably a 30 year old mirror and the coating is beginning to break down.  The paint is starting to come off the mount and its a little rusty.  Still, it is in usable condition.  It also has a few small chips knocked out of it from the poor method Meade chose to use to mount the mirror cell to the tube.  If you’ve seen some of the other posts you know I’m not greatly concerned about bad paint and a little rust.

A German Equatorial mount requires a counterweight for the tube.  Here’s the 65 lbs that make up the counterweight on this scope.  The declination lock knob is also shown.  You don’t want the tube wandering off on its own so correct balancing is important.


This scope also comes with the Meade tracking drive.  It seems to run fine.  Initially, it made some noise but my dad and I pulled the motor apart to lubricate it.  Problem solved.


To make moving it around a little easier, I ordered some 4″ casters off of Ebay.  They’re locking, of course, so the scope stays put when using it.


Meade wanted you to be able to use a camera with this scope.  As a result, the focuser requires an extension tube.  To get rid of this I moved the mirror back a bit.  The mirror cell is held in place by three Aluminum bars that each have three screws.  I shifted the bars back by one screw hole’s distance.  This gets rid of extension tube and lets the eye pieces focus without have to extend the focuser as much.  It also gets the mirror out of the tube which should help with cooling a bit.


The stock 60mm finder scope was missing its eyepiece and I haven’t tracked one down yet.  Instead, I decided to mount a small 80mm scope onto it that I built a while back using a purchased lens and eventually focuser.


To mount it to the tube I reused the stock finder scope holes.  I made a simple adapter that uses three bolts to allow me to aim the finder.


So, that’s my new scope.  I don’t see what’s insane about it.  Sure you could smuggle people inside of it, but the same could be said of a refrigerator.  Besides its not like it is this scope with a 70 in. diameter primary mirror an amateur just finished.  At some point, I plan to convert it over to a dobsonian style scope.  This will make it a lot more portable and lighter.  Until then, I plan to use it as is.  It must be a decent scope as it has attracted the full moon and numerous nights of solid clouds.

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3 Responses to Telescopic Insanity

  1. It’s looking good, David. I hope you enjoy it, and let me know the results if you ever compare it to a 10″ dob. (I’m the guy you bought it from!)

    • davidjbod says:

      Hey Shane. It puts up a pretty good image. I need to do some side by side comparison between it and my 8″ dob. So far I’ve only used the DS16 from my drive way with the close street light. Compared to my 8″ in my darker back yard, the DS16 puts up an image that is definitely brighter. Nebulae and galaxies pop out a lot better. I’d love to get it under some truly dark skies!

  2. Nick says:

    Nice telescope, I just got the exact same one the other day. I tried taking it out the first night I got it but as you mentioned you need an extender tube for the eyepiece, and I didn’t have one so it wouldn’t focus. Have you had any issues with the tube bending under the weight of moving the mirror back? Like you I plan on making a dobsonian mount for it, I am also going to cut the tube into three sections for easier transport. Another member in our astronomy club cut his and it worked out great, stays in collocation pretty well. I look forward to seeing the progress on your scope. Enjoy.

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