SkyClops, The Big Dog (Dobsonian)
A very privileged few friends gathered in East San Diego county August, 2008 to help me christen SkyClops. He is the Big Dob I’d always wanted.
Height and Weight
Yes, sometimes it feels like I am in a Doctor’s office whenever I am discussing this. When seen, a few questions always arise: “How tall is that?” “What is it?” “Is that a cannon?” “How much did that cost?” and, finally, “Can I take a look?”
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Formerly entitled, “Cyclops,” this 28″ dobsonian truly is a one-eyed monster. Weighing in at 250 lbs, measuring a yard across in its base and 11 feet tall when fully assembled, this telescope provides a window on the universe like few others. No, its not a cannon, though sometimes, when viewing a really deep sky object, I do feel like I could just fall into it and touch whatever it is that I’m looking at. You know that old saying about having to strap a board to your backside to keep from falling in? Yeah, that’s how I feel about SkyClops™.
Have you ever been to a Star Party? I have, like, more than I can count. Star Parties are great. I think of them like the chips and dip you might serve at a group of very casual acquaintances. You don’t bring out the good silver, fine wine, and steak and potatoes for your casual acquaintances, and Star Parties are the same way. So, I’ve attended about a million of these “chips and dip” events over the years. Now, if you know anything about astronomy, you know that there are a lot of, well, shall we say, old white guys at these events. I think it is great, honestly, and I have had a barrel of fun observing with them. Blonde women are, well, um, pretty much unheard of in astronomy. So, I show up, this is before anyone really knew me, and all these men like to joke around with me. Many of them, over the years, have said to me, “You wanna come over and see my big ten inch?” or something along those lines. So my standing joke about why I bought SkyClops™ was that I wanted to be able to have something bigger than all these men at star parties.
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The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is that I have ogled over owning a telescope since high school, which was a while back. The Space Shuttle had not yet flown when I started lusting for telescopes. So, after years and years of attending star parties, and seeing all the “normal” star party objects – Andromeda Galaxy, Saturn, Jupiter, and M13, I became a bit frustrated with my ability to, say, search out very faint, distant galaxies in Virgo. I had long decided to buy a telescope, but I wanted three: a big dob, a 7″ Takahashi refractor, and a 14″ Celestron SCT, plus all the assorted eyepieces and a big Dodge Ram truck to haul it all in. Minor detail, my budget did not support this. So, I had to make choices. Alas, nearly ten years after I got back into the field, I bought, the former, “Outta Sight Bridge,” discussed on its page. The minute I bought it, it was deemed too small the minute I bought it. Tylenol, sadly, is not an effective cure for aperture fever. An astronomy associate of mine saw SkyClops™ listed for sale and, knowing that I wanted a much larger telescope, suggested that I buy it.
Getting SkyClops(TM) Home
Now, here’s the thing. Finding a telescope of over 20″ in diameter isn’t hard to do. The hard part is finding one for sale within reasonable distance of your home. I’ve seen many “big dobs” for sale over the years, but most were places where they’d have to be shipped from. One was even in Australia. Imagine what it would cost to ship one from Australia to the US!!! So, I’ve always wanted one, it was just a matter of finding one somewhere drivable. This one was in Camarillo, CA, about a two hour drive northwest of San Diego. So, I emailed the owner, made the arrangements and, the Sunday after the 4th of July of 2008, my friend and I took off at o dark thirty in the morning to drive up to Camarillo. There was video of this trip, as I’d barely slept the night before from nervous excitement. We set the telescope up and, after I was satisfied that it really did work, I handed over a cashier’s check representing a significant portion of my savings account. We loaded SkyClops™ into the back of the minivan, and drove back to San Diego. After a trip to his home to check in with his family, we took SkyClops™ out to Mt. Laguna for a trial run. We didn’t see a lot that first night, but did get to do some observing. We had to enlist the assistance of a man there at the place we’d stopped in order to get SkyClops™ back up the ramp and into the back of the minivan. At 250 lbs., with about a 110 lb weight on the wheelbarrow handles, SkyClops™ is definitely not easy to move around, but he is very well worth it.
Since then, SkyClops™ has made appearances at the Julian Starfest, including the most recent one Aug 8-11, 2013, and at private viewing events held throughout Southern California. With a limiting magnitude of 17.8, SkyClops™ provides a window to the universe unavailable through almost any other telescope in Southern California. It is in the 98% percentile of telescopes available to the general public worldwide, and provides crystal clear viewing unlike anything you’ll ever experience.
If you’d like to take a peek, all you need do is email me at sandy [at] stellarexperiences [dot] com, or call 858-848-0860, and I will be happy to hook you up. You’ll be incredibly glad you did.