DAS Activities

DAS Public Nights

Public Nights
Tuesday and Thursday at
DU's Historic Chamberlin Observatory
Current start time is 7:30 pm
Costs to the public are:
$4.00 adults, $3.00 children

To book, please click:

Public Night Reservations

General Meeting – June 2018

June 29, 2018 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
DU's Olin Hall, Room 105
2190 E Iliff Ave
Denver, CO 80210

The DAS444 Dobsonian

Stuart Hutchins & Digby Kirby

The DAS444 Dob in transport configuration.

Those familiar with telescopes and astronomy know that aperture is king. Size matters. The bigger the aperture, the more light the telescope can gather and the bigger and brighter and more magnificent celestial objects are to behold. Unfortunately larger aperture telescopes are out of the reach of many, if not most, amateur astronomers due to issues of cost, complexity, size and lack of portability. But what if a relatively simple to use, portable, 17.5 inch (444 mm) f/4.5 Dobsonian telescope could be made available as a club telescope, for use by all interested members of the DAS? This is the dream of Stuart Hutchins and Digby Kirby.

Our talk will cover a 4 year odyssey from first dreaming about such a telescope, through the actual design, construction, and realization of the instrument. And if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to look through a large aperture telescope, you will want to look thru this one. We expect this telescope will provide many, many “oh Wows” and “oh my Gods,” not only to folks new to the hobby but to seasoned astronomers as well. Deep deep sky objects many have never before seen will come within reach and familiar objects like Jupiter, Saturn, galaxies and globular clusters will be truly magnificent in size and detail.

A little background history. The optics for this telescope, the primary and secondary mirror, are good. The mirror had been refigured by Jerry Wilkerson, an optician well known to several more senior astronomers in the DAS. But they had been installed in a heavy, outdated telescope with an inferior mirror cell and secondary mirror support mechanism. In a word it was junk. Rolls Royce optics in a model T chassis. The scope as configured sat in Chamberlin until the Chamberlin renovation and Dr. Bob took over the office where it sat.

Stuart took the orphan telescope home, trashed the chassis, but kept the optics, planning one day to put them in a telescope worthy of their quality. Digby Kirby, a relatively new member of DAS with a serious case of aperture fever, learned of this telescope and wondered why it wasn’t being deployed. People he talked to didn’t seem to know where it was but through a happy accident he learned that Stuart had the goods. A meeting ensued where Digby and Stuart reviewed the PLOP software – a program designed for optimizing design of mirror cells. Both agreed a club telescope of this size would be a valuable asset to the DAS and the project took life but with a considerable gestation period of nearly two years. But at last, in August of 2016, the initial supply of materials were bought, pencil went to paper and the saw first cut wood. Twice weekly since, grinding away with a few gaps for life intervening events, Stuart, with help and support from Digby, has designed and manufactured every part of the telescope you will see – except for the focuser, optics and some screws- the scope in its entirety has been designed and birthed by Stuart in his shop. Our talk, with photos taken as we’ve gone along, will document the process; our commitment to make a the best telescope we can craft for the DAS and a labor of love.

The General Meeting will start with introductions of new members and guests, a review of upcoming DAS events, observing reports, and an “Astronomy Minute,” providing a concise discussion of an astronomy topic of interest.

After the presentation on the DAS444, all present will be invited to a reception at DU’s Historic Chamberin Observatory, where coffee and other refreshments will be served.

See more on General Meetings, including past meetings, parking, etc. HERE

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