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F OUR dials do all the brainwork when

you use this table-top star finder—no


need for paper-and-pencil figuring.
Given four facts, you can quickly seek
out and identify heavenly bodies that
otherwise you might never see in the
vastness of the sky. These facts are:
• The date you're using the finder.
• Your local standard time.
• The right ascension of the star in
degrees or hours.
• Its declination.
Right ascension and declination are
coordinates that astronomers use to lo-
cate stars. The first measures along the
celestial equator, the second to the north
and south of it. Just as you can locate
a tiny island at the intersection of its
longitude and latitude, you can pinpoint
a sky target by its right ascension and
declination. But as the earth turns on its
axis and through its orbit, the sky that
you see keeps changing. That's why you
need the hour and date, too.
The star finder is also a seven-power
telescope. Low magnification provides a
generous field of view—about six degrees
in diameter—making it easier to locate
the sky objects you're seeking. It also
makes the stars some 40 times brighter
than when viewed with the naked eye.
Where you can normally see only 5,000
stars, this telescope brings more than
CONTINUED |[5
100,000 into view. And it emphasizes be bored in the eyepiece holder. The in-
the color of the brighter ones. side of the tube is painted dull black.
It also lets you see certain star clus- The telescope itself is a 1/8"-thick
ters, nebulae, and some of the nearby cardboard mailing tube with a 2" inner
galaxies—and it makes a fine satellite diameter. A ring is sliced from one end
tracker. It's easy to operate, simple and to form the cell for the objective lens. By
inexpensive to build. Buy only what you stripping off one or two inside layers of
can't make yourself, and the total cost paper it's possible to wedge in the lens;
will be under $5. but be sure it's seated at right angles to
The eyepiece. If you buy a regular the optical axis. At the other end of the
7x50 binocular eyepiece, that cost is tube, make a 2-1/4" cut along the side, then
nearly doubled. But you can make your slice down at right angles so you can peel
own from instructions that come with the half the tube open. Glue in the center
lenses you'll need. Our eyepiece contains light stop, then the rear light stop and
two identical plano-convex lenses having eyepiece block. After the glue sets, drill
diameters of 21 mm. and focal lengths of a hole through the tube, centered on the
41 mm. Assembled as shown in the cross- light stop and perpendicular to the opti-
section sketch on the facing page, they cal axis. A dowel can be run through this
produce a Ramsden eyepiece with a 1" hole as a guide for gluing on the declina-
focal length. The outside diameter of the tion disks and brackets. Glue the mirror
housing determines the size of the hole to to its mount, silvered side up.

116 POPULAR SCIENCE DECEMBER 1961


CONCENTRIC DIALS do the figuring for you. on bottom flange of fork unit, but turns inde-
Glue time dial to mount with 12-hour mark off- pendently. Declination dials are glued to the
set from centerline as shown. Date ring rests disks that flank the telescope tube (below).
THE RIGHT-ASCENSION RING turns with ORIENT THE STAR FINDER by placing it outdoors in the
the fork, but has a dial on each face position shown. Set the declination dial. Shift mount
and must remain reversible. To switch until North Star is centered in field of view. If a more
dials, swing tube down into fork, re- precise orientation is desired, offset Polaris one degree
move eyepiece, slide ring up over (one third of space from center to edge of field) in the
fork, flip over, and replace. direction of the constellation Cassiopeia.

Make a trial assembly to check align- that is, when the telescope is oriented, its
ment of the optical elements. When polar axis parallels the axis of the earth,
viewed from above, the diagonal mirror making the time-dial plane parallel to the
should show the open front of the tube plane of the equator. Before starting
as a circle of light centered in the hole construction, consult an atlas to determine
for the eyepiece. You may have to shift your latitude to the nearest degree.
or trim the mount to obtain this result. Subtract this from 90 degrees and you
Insert the eyepiece to make sure the tele- have the angle at which the time-dial plate
scope can be easily focused. Once satis- must tilt from horizontal. Attach the for-
fied, remove the unglued parts and paint ward leg to the time-dial plate with glue
the interior of the tube (and all parts and nails; then drill the hole for the pivot
that go in it) dull black. screw, making sure it's perpendicular to
The cell with the objective lens is at- the plate. Glue on the crescent-shaped
tached with masking tape. This permits time-dial extension, and paint the mount
removal for cleaning. a bright color.
The fork consists of two uprights an- When fastening the fork to the mount
chored to a disk and spaced far enough and the tube to the fork, tighten the pivot
apart to allow the telescope tube to fit screws just enough to hold the telescope
snugly between. In assembling, run a on target yet allow a smooth shift to a
dowel through the holes in the sides to new target. Your telescope can't function
align the declination axis at right angles as a star finder, however, until it's
to the polar axis. The unpainted slip equipped with the all-important dials that
disks are glued on last. A slight taper on point the way to celestial objects. Since
the edge of the fork base and filler pieces these dials must be accurately graduated,
assures a tight fit for the removable right- POPULAR SCIENCE has arranged to have
ascension ring. full-size reproductions of all six included
The mount is of the equatorial type— in a kit containing the optical elements
you'll need to make your Star Finder
(see note at bottom of column at left).
THE SIX READY-TO-CUT-OUT DIALS are Adding the dials. The time dial does
available in the PS Star Finder Kit, No. 60,- not turn. It is glued to the mount. But
223—$3.95 postpaid from Edmund Scien- it must be properly related to the center-
tific Co., 101 E. Gloucester Pike, Harrington,
N.J. This price also covers an eyepiece set, line of the mount. Go back to the map to
first-surface mirror, and 7 x 50 objective lens. determine your longitude to the nearest
118 POPULAR SCIENCE DECEMBER 1961