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Collimating a Newtonian – The Correct, Easier and Definitive Approach: Incorporating the Cave and Laser Telescope Collimators When Useful

Handbook / Manual

By: Peter R Clark(Author)

65 pages, colour & b/w photos, colour & b/w illustrations

Peter R Clark (privately published)

3 customer reviews
Paperback | extended edition (65 pages) | Mar 2017 | Edition: 4 | #236277 | ISBN-13: 9780957645431
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £12.50 $17/€14 approx
Paperback | regular edition (15 pages) | Mar 2017 | Edition: 4 | #221923 | ISBN-13: 9780957645400
Availability: In stock
NHBS Price: £7.50 $10/€9 approx

About this book

This booklet contains instructions to getting telescope mirrors aligned for speed, accuracy and reliability, without any deep understanding beforehand. You just get on with it and enjoy. The extended fourth edition (65 pages) includes an extra 50 pages with the background story to the 5 years it took to discover the correct scientific adjustments and so bury universal intuitive adequacy for amateurs for ever. In this 4th edition's two versions, the comprehensive instructions chapter is identical. They won't let you down.

Summary of the story and reasoning behind herewith 'Making you Mighty in Collimation'.

Published instructions, by omitting the better arrangement in bold below, are mostly all wrong on the secondary mirror. This is given by the way tracking error of a satellite dish or an EQ mount is corrected, how you change the direction of a bicycle quickly and how you should not.  
{1}. The two lateral adjuster bolts of the secondary mirror are not needed and that if fitted must only be used as strict slaves of the central bolt. It reduces the number of bolts used for collimation to 5. This brings the task to within the ability of the human brain to make the correct choices first time, avoiding the distorted light paths of compensation for errors and so reducing adjustment of both mirrors of fast Newtonians from about every session to just once or twice a year, primary only.
{2}. This easier, far more reliable most accurate method helps telescope users achieve excellence through from faint fuzzes to close or difficult double stars, when the wisdom has said expensive refractors of f/10 at the fastest and another for low power wide angle interests. Things now lean more towards what advances in eyepiece quality and ability can offer.
{3}. And from American telescope maker R.F. Royce, 'The Ultimate Newtonian', on which he writes, 'How many times have you struggled with a conventional 3 screws holder, and, after much frustration and bad language, found yourself looking at a secondary mirror skewed to one side under the focuser? That's because the basic adjustment design process is INCORRECT and ILLOGICAL and does not follow right angle relationships. The instructions in this book do exactly that.

There is no need to make a big thing of understanding the instructions first.  Just use them stage by stage. Understanding will then follow.

Watch a presentation by the author below:


"'The Cave Collimator was excellent for my Maksutov–Newtonian telescope and very good for my Rumak–Cassegrain."
- Professor Ian Morison, Jodrell Bank

Reviews (3)

The instructions work well with good results
By Peter 2 Mar 2018 Unconfirmed Purchase Written for Paperback

"Peter Clark's more scientific technique for Newtonian 'scopes works well and requires just a peephole eyepiece as the only gadget needed. I have used the method on my 6" and 10" telescopes with good results. I do not have either a Cheshire eyepiece or a laser collimator and having seen the latter used can appreciate the risk of an eyeful of laser beam! There is no electronic aid that can substitute for a sound understanding of how a Newtonian is constructed and set up."
– Christopher Eagleton, Beverley

Author's notes:
Christopher's comment about the laser collimator is pretty fair for his two f 5 Newtonians, but by f 3.9 is proving essential for the increasing accuracy in vertical tilt needed by the secondary mirror. Laser collimators do not feature in my instructions until stage[6]. Its beam will then be well within the secondary mirror diameter. Neither big bolt heads nor establishment writer could help the review of a 3.8 on p.94 of Sky at Night Jan 2018.

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His Cave Collimator works and the book takes over
By Peter 2 Mar 2018 Unconfirmed Purchase Written for Paperback

"I am currently converting old spherical f3 Newise mirrors to paraboloids for putting them into telescopes for wide angle work, using coma correctors. Naturally, collimation will be an issue so we will be making use of your work."
– Peter Wise

Author's notes:
Peter is a recipient of the BAA's Horace Dall Medal for showing marked ability in the making of astronomical instruments.

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Taming the dastardly thing.* It's all over now!
By Peter 3 Mar 2018 Unconfirmed Purchase Written for Paperback

It has been very reassuring to have journeyed from adjusting both mirrors at every session for 4 years to just the f/3 primary mirror slightly twice a year since 2013; mainly by eventually regarding the secondary mirror's two lateral adjuster bolts as like the handlebars of a bike. Correction by turning them can cause the rider to fall off by gyroscopic inertia. Similarly, adjusting a Newtonian telescope's two lateral bolts just because they are there causes a fall off from collimation achieved. Then sourced from ideas and trusted writers, lower grade compensation then produces a twisted light path fit for one temperature. The instructions chapter steers you clear of such disasters, rocking the boat and ruffling feathers on the way. Adjustments have become easy and reliable for any f ratio.
Slipping back into wrong methods again is actually prevented by the re-engineering support suggested in Norton's Star Atlas 11th and 16th editions from 1950 p.50. Then on the internet additionally there's Conrad Hoffman's secondary mirror holder* and in S & T October 2010, Ed Jones's Tracking Travelscope. They either don't fit the two lateral bolts or they lock them into being strict followers of the central bolt. Thus are instructions constrained into exactly the same method that scales up to the fastest optics as the author developed with words arising from his work alone before trawling for like mind support. Commercially, the principle of one adjuster (with slaves) falls foul of the establishment. There's nothing they'd claim three bolts are needed for that rotation about the central bolt doesn't perform more easily within the arc of concern at stage [2] and better for both medium and high magnification interests. Adjustments feel micrometer like with no hit or miss from 4 years into the task, even with the f 3.0 primary mirror of the main development 'scope.

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