Pete Richardson’s Talk

40 years ago the Astro Socs up and down the country buzzed with the chatter of people making their own mirrors for dreamed of amateur telescopes. The rise of reliable Far Eastern manufacturing has since made such venture unnecessary if not an expensive way of getting your own telescope. However if the mass market don’t want it i.e.bigger aperture telescopes, the only ways are deeper pockets or going back to DIY optics.

Pete Richardson is an accomplished amateur astrophotographer using a shop bought Meade Telescope but over a year ago he set out on a home engineering adventure to make his own optics first for a 10″ f4.5 and in future a 20″ of similar speed. The talk takes you along on his journey, breaking down a task that outwardly seems very complicated into the steps required to make a mirror that outperforms any mass market options.

A seemingly dry topic was spiced up with anecdotes and stories of mistakes along the way and was told with a pace and familiarity that carried it comfortably with an engaged audience right to the “Thankyou for having me”. It was fascinating to see how amateurs can achieve accuracies far better than a ten thousandths of a millimeter in their garages and across their kitchens.

This was the story of the Mirror-o-Matic machine that Pete built to grind, polish and figure his first 10″ mirror. Another update is due next year on the progress of the 20″ monster to follow.

Talk by Pete Richardson