Me and My Telescope Gustav Nelson

Astronomy has weaved its way through my life since taking a class at Poly in the late 60’s. I haven’t been without a scope for 50 years. The current collection includes a dozen scopes – all refractors except an 8SE (a “gift” that is still broken) and a Mak-Cass that I bought for the mount. 


But it isn’t the science that has drawn me – it’s the people and places that are connected to the sky. Tracked Tycho and Kepler from Kepler’s high school and Uraniborg to the castle in Prague. Saw Harrison’s clocks and Halley’s old scopes at Greenwich. Made a pilgrimage Down Under to see the Clouds and great globulars. Visited all the great scopes of the American West including the huge cathedral to science known as the VLA. Struggled to get to the Egyptian/Libyan border for a solar eclipse. I went to a secret private observatory in Syria where owning scopes is illegal. Went to Justinian’s castle where his monk, Dennis the Little, presented his revised calendar. A cathedral in Rome has a built-in sundial to track Gregory’s further calendar changes. Been there.


It is those connections to people and places that make astronomy exciting for me.


And to all these places, I have taken my favorite scope – a Borg Mini-50 with a straw spotter and a cheap Radio Shack tripod. It has been smuggled into the Islamic World on multiple trips. [Scopes (and binocs) are illegal in all but Turkey.] Nearly a thousand people have looked through that scope in scores of countries…and at BurningMan.


I guess that makes me sort of an astronomy evangelist.


Best to you…gus

Gustav Nelson, LtCol (Ret)

Other scopes: IOptron 108, old Tasco 75, TeleVue Ranger, Orion 100, Coronado 40 & 60

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