John Dobson, founder of the Sidewalk Astronomers, invented a telescope design called the "Dobsonian" telescope. Though if you ask John, he'll tell you it's a "Sidewalk" telescope!
Each fall, John teaches courses in telescope making at the Randall Museum in San Francisco. On this site, you can learn what it's like to build your own scope, consult our "cheat sheet" for making your own mirror and telescope mount, and even check out the complete plans.
Telescope Making Classes in San Francisco
The next Telescope Making Class in San Francisco begins March 25, 2010.
Dave Frey, the class instructor, is the Current President of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers and he learned his craft directly from John Dobson through the classes at the Randall Museum. Mr. Frey is an avid amateur astronomer, and has constructed many telescopes including a 20â€ portable Truss Tube reflector.
There is a registration fee for the class.Â Additionally, the materials cost, including the mirror glass and plywood, will run approximately $300 to $400 depending on the size of the scope you decide to make.
For more details, check the Randall Museum's website.
Year-Round Telescope Making Classes
Do-It-Yourself: Plans and Instructions
- "You Silly Goose!" Building a Telescope with John Dobson. Learn what it's like to take John Dobson's telescope making course.
- Dobsonian Telescope: Photo Gallery. See a typical home-built Dobsonian telescope up close.
- Notes from John Dobson's Telescope Making Class. You can use these "cliff's notes" from John Dobson's class to help you build your scope, whether or not you take the course.
- Complete Plans for building your own Dobsonian Telescope. Hosted by Sidewalk Astronomer-emeritus Ray Cash.
- Plans for building a Dobsonian Sun Telescope. John Dobson designed this variation of his original telescope for looking at the Sun safely.
- Build a Solar Filter for Your Telescope. You can build this inexpensive solar filter to convert your nighttime Dobsonian for daytime Sun viewing.
You can also purchase printed plans and John Dobson's telescope making video directly from the Sidewalk Astronomers national website.
Other Telescope Making Resources
If you have a question about telescope making, or are looking for innovative design ideas, there are plenty of resources available in print and on the Internet.
- An excellent beginner's book on telescope building is Build Your Own Telescope by Richard Berry.
- Amateur Astronomy magazine is a print magazine written by amateur astronomers, and contains many articles on telescope building. Their index of past issues is online, and you can order back issues via postal mail.
- Tom Clark, former editor of Amateur Astronomy magazine, also offers an advanced book on Dobsonian telescope building, The Modern Dobsonian.
- The standard reference for people wishing to build a truss-tube style Dobsonian telescope is The Dobsonian Telescope: A Practical Manual for Building Large Aperture Telescopes by David Kriege and Richard Berry.
- Also, check out the archives of the Amateur Telescope Maker's mailing list. This page contains an archive of several years worth of email discussion amongst skilled telescope builders. It is a gold mine for problem-solving tricks and interesting ideas.
- Sky and Telescope magazine has run articles on telescope building and techniques for several years. You can search through their back issues online, and download digital reprints for a small fee.