My thoughts in general

Big damn tool: 
The 100 inch (2.54 m) Hooker reflecting telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles, USA.

Telescopes are optical instruments that make distant objects appear magnified by using an arrangement of lenses or curved mirrors and lenses, or various devices used to observe distant objects by their emission, absorption, or reflection of electromagnetic radiation.

Telescopes are tools. I see them as 4 separate assemblies you join together to accomplish viewing tasks. The following assembly definitions are generic, but mine, and may differ from yours.

#1 – the Optical Tube Assembly (OTA): 
Objective lens – mandatory
Tube or Truss Assembly – mandatory
Focuser – mandatory
Rail – mandatory
Rings, Clamshell, Yokes – optional
Finder Scope Mount – optional
Finder Scope – optional

#2 – the Viewing Package (VP)
Correctors, Flatteners

#3 – the Mount Assembly (MA): 
Slow Motion Cables

#4 – the Support Assembly (SA)
Tripod or Pier

Grouped in this way, you might have many, many OTAs which require only a few VPs, MAs and SAs. This works best for me in most cases. Now, there are times when you may want to keep certain assemblies in permanent sets – complete, classic or historical sets  –  ‘as sold’ Towa, Shrine, Criterion, Dynascope, Skoshichagigawa, etc. kits or sets are a good example. They retain their historical, education, monetary value best when maintained as original sets.

While monetary value is certainly a concern and stewardship of complete, classic or historical sets is a responsibility all of us should respect and accept, I don’t think that means you have to turn every acquisition of one assembly that may be part of a set into a set. Personal case in point: see Lucky Lola http://www.astrokerr.com/wp/lola-095455/

Telescopes are tools – that is important to remember. Every tool must be learnt, maintained, properly used and respected. Tools have a spirit or anima (I probably believe this to some extent), und die Anima gibt dem Werkzeug den Wunsch, benutzt zu werden. (go find translation). You should respect that and help the tool fulfill that desire. “Light-thru-lens = Love” for ‘scopes. I suppose a certain number of scopes must suffer the ‘display’ fate – when someone cruelly and heartlessly condemns them to an indoor existence to be looked at, not through – because I can’t be everywhere and fix everything. Same thing as chaining up a dog, keeping chickens in a cage, fish in a little globe bowl – you can do it (((until I see it) then you can’t) i promise).  Only warning you get =)

Our goal here @ AstroKerr Observatory and Tasty Beverage Stand is to have our scopes portable between mounts, our mounts portable between piers when possible and tripods when necessary. We have or had a number of complete scope sets – we’ve reduced the number of redundant tripods and mounts. We like to have at least two mounts on whatever available always and as many as six available when necessary. Six is a good limit. I can only run so fast and as you know, even folded tripods take up space.

With that in mind, seems we always need rings, rails, or both. Whenever feasible, ‘rings-n-rail’ over ‘rail only’ to reduce hole drilling. We’re not ‘there’ yet, but we’re getting close.

Mounts – sometimes alt-az is best, sometimes eq, sometimes goto. Goal is two 100 lb+ class, two 40~50 lb, two or more  50two Atlas, two Sirius

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