ScopeX 2010 ATM Awards
By Chris Stewart
It seems that the ATM awards remain a popular component of ScopeX, the underlying purpose of which is in large part to promote the advancement of Amateur Telescope Making as a hobby. The awards are intended to highlight achievements, draw attention to particularly interesting or exceptional items on display, and to inspire people to higher levels of achievement. Certainly ScopeX presents a deadline towards which it is evident that many people work feverishly each year, and this time was no different. In fact, the largest telescope on display was driven 1200km from George to achieve “first light” at ScopeX, the beautiful crescent Moon obliging as the first target.
As usual, the criteria for judging involve consideration of:
Workmanship: quality of finish, beauty, style and precision of execution
Innovation: application of new ideas, principles, materials or techniques
Difficulty: challenging optical configuration, grand scope of project, courageous modifications
Lateral thinking: unusual ways of solving old problems, interesting application of found materials.
Naturally the most interesting contenders would embody a mix of these attributes, and all exhibits are carefully scrutinised with a view to finding them. It may be that a single element or component is particularly interesting or -
One never knows beforehand what will appear at ScopeX on the day, so there is no room for preconception and every event is unique. Prizes are of course awarded with some regard to matching the value of the award to the magnitude of achievement, but more importantly we also try as best we can to match the prize to our understanding of the recipient’s needs. We are very grateful to our sponsors who have over the years put us in a position to hand out some rather desirable items. This year we were pleased to be in a position to hand out 6 awards to very deserving candidates.
George Jagals went on a mission. He was determined to make the largest telescope that could reasonably be completed and actually used, given the need to trundle it through the house to his observing spot. A 13”/330mm mirror could just be squeezed into Rodney’s aluminising plant, so that dictated the maximum size. To overcome the difficulty of locally sourcing such a big blank, he took 2 pieces of 19mm thick float glass and fused them into one, in a kiln. Having previous experience in polishing a somewhat smaller mirror, he chose to build a machine to assist this time round. The f/ratio was carefully chosen to allow the telescope to get through the door. Once the monster was together, an ingenious trolley to enable transport to the observing spot was produced, as well as a rugged adjustable observing chair to allow comfortable viewing even at the maximum eyepiece height. In recognition of this body of work, he received 15mm & 20mm SuperView eyepieces courtesy of The Telescope Shop.
Rainer Jakob expanded his stupendous collection of home-
Fred Oosthuizen does not shy from a challenge. Seeing how well TCTs (tilted component telescopes) could perform, he chose to tackle a 3-
Julian Shellard has an enviable knack for cleanly integrating unusual design features in such a subtle way that to the uninformed, most of his innovations would go unnoticed. This he manages to do with a flair for industrial design that enables simple everyday materials to be transformed into sleekly elegant instruments with smooth movements that are a joy to use. They abound with intriguing details resulting from deep consideration of the needs for utility, practicality, readily available materials and human ergonomics to come together into an integrated system, the gestalt of which is somehow greater than the sum of the parts. This year’s submission, an 8” f/7 Dobsonian is a fine exemplar of his philosophy, which others are encouraged to emulate. In recognition of his achievement, Julian received an eyepiece and accessories case together with 6x filters, courtesy of The Telescope Shop.
Johann Swanepoel takes a long-
Nigel Wakefield brought his 16” f/4,3 truss-
So, “the big Dobs” seem to have simultaneously come to fruition -
Nevertheless, we were gratified to see that instruments meeting all of our judging criteria were abundantly visible on the field. When the lights went out, queues quickly formed at every instrument. We could not materially reward everyone that participated, but the excitement and joy expressed by the visitors attending the star party were a gratifying endorsement. There is nothing like seeing the splendours of the universe through a telescope that has been lovingly hand crafted. The majestic crescent Moon, marvellous Saturn with almost edge-
Well done to all. We hope to have yet more exciting submissions next year.