Posted on Tuesday, December 02, 2014
By Kadri

Classic Telescopes
A Guide to Collecting, Restoring, and Using Telescopes of Yesteryear
by Neil English

"Classic Telescopes" is a good introduction to historic telescope makers and their lives and creations mostly focusing on those telescope makers that also made smaller instruments that might end up in the hands of an amateur astronomer.

In the book one can get acquainted with all the best known telescope makers of the past few centuries starting with for example the Dollonds - an originally father and son firm that made spectacles and high quality achromatic telescopes the sale of which to mainland Europe was stopped during the Napoleonic wars as spyglasses served good uses in war.

In addition to Dollond, there's also mention of Joseph von Fraunhofer and Alvan Clark, but also later telescope makers and corporations such as Carl Zeiss in Jena, Germany.
Although the telescope makers are important in their own right, the book also shows what can and what is still done with old telescopes.
Although nowadays many a new amateur astronomer might aim for a large aperture and short focal length fast telescope for imaging, the book shows how long focal length slow telescopes with a famous name can still be very nice to use - maybe not for photography but visual observations of binary and multiple stars certainly.

The book is written in a quite interesting and flowing way, as in between history you can read about the restoration of some telescopes and also about some of the methods that are used and one can learn such interesting things as why some old lenses actually work better than some newer ones.

In general it was fascinating and a fast read.

Even if you're not an owner of a hundred-year-old or even older telescope or planning to buy one, this book makes for a good eye-opener as it introduces opticians and their work in a less academic way that would be appealing for a larger general audience.

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