Jerry Hudson's Telescope Making Party

First Light Party for 3 telescopes
Jerry Advised on Optics

Dr. Jerry Hudson of the UC Berkeley Astronomy Department held a star party for the high school students in his and Larry Dean's telescope making class in the San Francisco Bay area. Three of the identically designed 6 inch equatorial Newtonian telescopes put together by the high school students were ready for final assembly and first light.

The first scope assembled (belonging to Dan Khersonsky, San Francisco) was ready for viewing immediately. The image of the moon through breaks in the high cirrus clouds was truly spectacular! The other two required additonal assembly and a return trip from Concord to Daly City and back to retrieve a part. The next telescope assembled belongs to Marcus Lee (also S.F.) Marcus had done a superb job on his mirror, but needed to move the position of the eyepiece before a focus could be achieved. The third Third telescope belongs to Eileen Lau of Daly City. Eileen chose some gorgeous material and skillfully stitched it together for covering all 3 telescope tubes. A new twist, and a handsome cover. It worked out of the box, after an emergency trip home to retrieve the mirror cell.

Celebrating first light thru Dan Khersonsky's telescope. Rear (l. to r.): Mrs. Dean, Mr. Lee, Mr. Lau, Mr. James Simms; Middle row: Marcus Lee, Mrs. Lee, Eileen Lau, Chris Simms; Front row: Dan Khersonsky, Jerry Hudson. Larry Dean, Jim Simms assemble Eileen's pedestal; Eileen holding her telescope tube.
Jerry remembers a pulled ligament while stretching to insert a diagonal mirror into Eileen's tube. Larry dean inserts Marcus' diagonal mirror into its holder. Marcus Lee's telescope; (l. to r.): Mr. Lee, Jerry Hudson, Marcus Lee.

Jerry adds some background:

"I had known Larry Dean since my own son was a student at De La Salle H.S. in Concord. Larry later went on to join the faculty of Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, where he was stricken by the telescope making bug. He jumped into this with customary enthusiasm, and soon had half a dozen students grinding mirrors. He invited me to join in, which I could not resist, having been exposed to pitch fever at an early age myself.

"Larry and I oversaw the grinding of about a dozen mirrors and 4 complete telescopes. A few partially completed instruments adorn the physics lab at LWHS, which probably resembles the factory floor at Coulter's telescope making works more than it does a classroom. The amazing thing is that young people, with all the concerns and temptations of a busy high school, are willing to roll up their sleeves and tackle projects this demanding of skills and patience.

"Lick-Wilmerding was originally founded by James Lick, who I think would have looked favorably on our proceedings. Lick made his fortune as a master craftsman, and later as an astute entrepeneur, who capitalized on the needs of a city caught up in the great gold rush. Lick started a school for the industrial arts; this has evolved now into largely a college prep school with extensive outreach programs and scholarships for many who can't afford the otherwise stiff fees of a private school. LWHS has execllent workshops where students can learn practical skills ranging from precision machining, welding, and fine woodwork to stage set design and glassmaking. A practical "senior project" is expected of every graduating student.

"Lick you probably know, is immortalized by having also donated funds to the fledgling University of California for the state's first astronomical observatory.

"Larry now is turning his sights on a new frontier. He will be departing soon for the Phillipine Is. with his bride, Judith, where he plans to teach physics. My guess is that we will see some more fine amateur telescopes coming from the inspiration and guidance of Larry Dean. May the force be with him."

This page was last updated on June 7, 1998
Web Page by Lew Cook
Photos (c) 1998 Lew Cook