South East Kent Astronomical Society has recently acquired a large refractor as a result of a donation.
The scope, mount and pedestal were offered free on AstroBuySell to local organisations who would make use of it, as the owner (Kevin Topp) was no longer in a position to use the scope. Lee Phillips saw the post on ABS, and Andy Wiseman made contact with Kevin who was happy to donate the whole setup to SEKAS.
It was bought to the Paddock on the evening of 18th June 2017, from Kevin’s home the Isle of Sheppey and several committee members assembled the scope for the first time.
Once assembled the skies faded slightly and the first light was had with Jupiter in daylight ! The whole setup is beautifully engineered, and very sturdy.
Since then, a Losmandy plate has been purchased so that the scope can be used on the AZEQ6 mount in the society observatory, as well as on its own mount. The scope will be housed on a couple of dedicated brackets on the North wall of the observatory.
The owner was invited to receive membership of SEKAS as a thank you for such a generous donation. He also visited the Paddock on Saturday 12th August 2017 during the annual Perseid weekend event. The scope was on the society mount for the first time and was admired by the various visitors and the Paddock landowners, Mr & Mrs Spencer. Views of Jupiter and Saturn were very pleasing – despite their very low altitude at the time.
The large size of the refractor means that the Paddock is the ideal place for it, and it will hopefully make ‘special appearances’ at other SEKAS events from time to time.
The society is incredibly grateful to Kevin for the donation of such a spectacular piece of equipment.
Below is a brief history of the scope, as written by Kevin Topp, it’s donor and previous owner.
Also included are some pictures of the scope at the Paddock during it’s first setup and the Perseid event.
Greg Esson, Observatory Director.
Description of the 127mm F15 76″ Refractor by the previous owner.
Originally made by Beacon Hill Telescopes in 1986 using O.G. made by Henry Wildey
Purchased by present owner in late 1992. O.G. displayed some astigmatism so this was re-figured by Jim Hysom of A.E. Optics in early 1993.
Between January 1993 and June 1995, the present owner completely re-built the scope. All brass focuser and finder, two extra diaphragms inside the tube, new O.G. end to provide collimation adjustment, new longer dew cap, sliding tube weight and complete paint job inside and out. The brass items came from an old 4″ refractor (fullerscopes).
It was originally mounted on a Fullerscope Mk 3 equatorial. This was replaced by an A.E. mount with 1 1/4″ shafts, R.A. electric drive, manual DEC, and Hinds VFO unit. The present owner had the pedestal made for the mount.
Optical performance is good. Jim Hysom stated at the time that there was a limit on what could be done, since the O.G. components are on the thin side. However, any astigmatism has gone, colour is well controlled and star images present a nice Airy disc at focus, although intra and extra focal star images are not identical. I have always found planetary images excellent with a good crisp focus.
Kevin Topp, 18th June 2017