Using Spreadsheets for Telescope Design


Chris was introduced to the night sky at the age of 9 by his father when he viewed the moon thru his father’s homemade 3-inch reflector.  This telescope was constructed from an Edmunds Scientific surplus mirror, a cardboard mailing tube, a microscope eyepiece, rectangular diagonal, and a focuser that slid along the axis of the OTA.  At the age of 12 Chris received a 3-inch refractor for Christmas.  Crunching through the fresh crust of ice that covered the snow in a Boston suburb backyard, he got his first glimpse of Saturn’s rings.  Although a wee speck in the field of view – the hook was set.  Later in High School the objective of the 3-inch refractor was removed and placed in a cardboard tube that was mounted to his 35mm camera (poor-mans telephoto) that was used to take photos during Friday night football games for the school newspaper. After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Engineering Physics, he joined the Smokey Mountain Astronomical Society (SMAS) that met in the Physics building on the Knoxville campus.  Borrowing a 10-inch Dobsonian from the club, he started chasing Messier objects and learning the night sky.  When his father retired and moved from Florida to be near the grandchildren, Chris invited him to a club Star Party.  The November air was cold and steady.  In an 8-inch long focal length outfitted with a Barlow and short focus eyepiece Jupiter filled the field-of-view and we all took turns watching the shadow of a transiting moon.  This was a full-circle kind of event and I felt blessed to share the experience with my father.

Chris earned his MS in Material Science and then moved to Oregon in 2001 to work a Lattice Semiconductor.  His first OSP was 2002 and he purchased a pair of binoculars with which he completed the Messier Binocular in 2016 (slow and steady). In addition to the 8-inch “planet killer” f10 telescope reconstruction (the inspiration to use a spreadsheet for optical design), Chris has also been grinding a 12-inch “honeycombed” f3 mirror.