[sac-forum] Feb 2008 Newsletter -- Blast From the Past (Aug 1980 Issue) -- The Whopper

Hi All,

Telrad asked for some bits about the "Blast From the Past" -- August 1980 SAC News reprinted in the February issue.... Let's see... the banner with the cactus and stars was sketched by yours truly, then Xeroxed with the remaining stuff pasted up by the Editor, Bob Latterman... Bob was quite a character, as those who knew him can testify... "The Whopper" -- featured prominently in a couple of photos in that issue -- was a conglomerate of all sorts of materials and parts -- truly a "Warren Estes" style special Dobsonian. (Except that it actually had an equatorial fork mount....) The 16 inch primary mirror was found amongst the optics junque in Dr. Arnie Meister's lab in the Physics bldg. basement at ASU -- from the name etched on the back, it was originally ground and polished by Jimmy Corn, an old-timer from PAS back in the 1950s. (His name appears in some old Sky & Telescope columns -- apparently he was quite an observer and telescope maker -- maybe Keith Parizek can comment on him....) The mirror was about f:9, the way we made mirrors "back then".... dictating an exceptionally l-o-o-o-n-g cardboard sonotube for the scope -- painted a blazing RED, of course. In the left-hand shot, you may notice a pair of legs sticking out the bottom, and Bob's head and torso at the top -- just sort of an "April Fools" photo! I recognize George Kohl on the right, and I think that is Paul Maxson in the background. I might be lurking in there, someplace... The exceptionally shaky "Whopper" mounting was constructed out of various junk Bob found lying around... The "fork" was bolted together using a metal brace from an old truck, the mirror cell was a bell-shaped housing from a pool filter, the rest was bits and pieces of wood, and metal, etc.

It took the cooperation of most of the club members to get it together for observing.... But the beast actually worked !! I remember an exceptional view of M27 (The Dumbbell Nebula) at Fesslers -- while perched on the top of a wobbly, wooden 13 ft. ladder !! The Whopper didn't stay together very long... and it was shortly afterwards that Bob traded the glass for some other stuff.... I think the mirror went through Jeff Charles' hands....

Yes, we were a young, upstart club back then, and we sure had a lot of fun...

Gene Lucas

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