Ken Renard, from Dunmore, Pennsylvania, was kind enough to write me about his recent experiences with a grand old telescope at Keystone College Observatory. There, Ken was fortunate enough to enjoy a grand lunar vista with a 9.5 inch f/15 Clark refractor. Here is his account:
A cold blast came through northeast PA ushering sleet and snow. We awoke to about 2 inches of fresh snow giving a beautiful scene. Our club observing night was planned for the evening. With some hope of clear skies I watched the weather. After trimming the tree, I checked the skies and only some slight haze persisted. I headed to the club site at about 7:30. Once I arrived I saw conditions were going downhill. Luckily a crescent Moon sat in the sky. I was lucky enough to take advantage of the local college Alvan Clark refractor. I looked around to view the spectacle that was before me. I had viewed through the Clark before but usually with a line of folks looking for a quick peek. Tonight I was alone at the eyepiece and could see why these instruments were so good. A 14mm radian sat in the diagonal and the view was something to be seen. I took out my pencils and black paper and began to sketch an area that struck my fancy. With each pencil mark more could be seen. I drew and observed the one small area for about one hour. The tracking of the scope made sketching easier than normally pushing my own scope along. Now high on the steps in the dome the Moon began to sink, I was happy with my time and sketch with this great instrument. I climbed down the steps showing John Sabia the drawing and we plotted what I sketched. With some of his help he gave me some particulars of the apparent diameter. They are as follows.
‘scope: 9 1/2 inch F15 Alvan Clark refractor @ 258x time 19:51- 20:50. Co longitude 334.3 Apparent size 32.46 latitude -5.55 longitude +4.36.
Seeing 6/7 varied
23.5 F almost no wind.
John and I called it a night as he locked up and headed home. I couldn’t help thinking of the refractor I looked through. Glass ground before my great grandfather was born. What a master Mr. Clark was. The workmanship is, to this day, amazing. To think something over 100 years old would work so well. I wish I could have done the view justice other than my humble sketch. If you ever get a chance to look through one of these great refractors enjoy the experience. I know I did. Thanks to John Sabia for his time and expertise at the TCO observatory. I hope to get at the eyepiece again soon.
Find out more about the capabilities of this magnificent Clark refractor here.
If you have an inspiring story about a classical refractor, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.