Where Ben's Scope came from ...

Ben's telescope, which he used to win science fair prizes with, is a home built his grandpa and dad made at a Foothill College ATM program run by Marvin Vann.

Part of the Jolitz Heritage Site for the Jolitz Family of Silicon Valley.

[ Jolitz Heritage Benjamin Torsten (Ben) Jolitz Where Ben's Scope came from ... ]

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Benjamin's Telescope

Benjamin Jolitz used a 6 inch F/8.3 telescope, currently mounted on a large equatorial fork mount constructed out of sheet aluminum. It is an artifact of the past, originally built by his grandfather and dad in 1969. They had been inspired by Marvin Vann, having attended many of his planetarium shows and visits after to the observatory just up the hill.

Attending Vann's telescope making class in the evenings at Foothill College, they made a 6 inch parabolic mirror, the heart of the telescope they made.


Marvin Vann and Foothill College

Marvin Vann inspired many in astronomy. With his compelling planetarium shows, ability to translate to reality in the sky with the observatory immediately afterward, dedication in instrument making, and instruction that transferred this to many.

Ben's grandpa and dad both were affected by this. Attending Vann's telescope making class in the evenings at Foothill College, they made a 6 inch parabolic mirror, the heart of the telescope they made.


Foothill College Telescope Making with Marvin Vann

Telescope making at Foothill ment grinding. polishing, and figuring a Corning Pyrex blank going round an 60 gallon oil drum for hours. So many in fact, that they replicated the aluminum plate that held a duplicate Pyrex blank on top of a drum for additional work in the garage in San Jose between classes. Later, a Foucault tester was also assembled as well.

What made Vann's telescope making class so successful was his patience, where even an overactive, immature 6th grade boy and a overmanaged, hyperattentive engineer could gradually learn the discipline of optics, eventually over the space of years accomplishing a study in the art of telescope making.

Note the spiral focusser, spider, upper ring, and mirror cell parts. They are from the Foothill design, where many 6 inch and 8 inch telescopes were made with these cast aluminum components. The spider is a offset circular design to minimize diffraction effects. The upper ring has a ball bearing race that allows the top portion of the tube to be rotated independently, to place eyepiece more conviently. (8mm film of telescope construction and first light)

See also "Jolitz Family Video - William and Son build a telescope" for 8mm film of this.
Ben's Scope Through the Years

The telescope was on a wood and aluminum german equatorial mount for visual use. Later it was heavily modified for astrophotography through a series of different equatorial mounts.

In its latest incarnation, its on a huge fork mount made of sheet metal. The RA drive has been lost, and it is back to visual use. From first light, to many evenings showing the skys to those at Foothill College, through many years of service, this scope has showed planets, moon, nebula to kids of all ages.

Guarded by its loyal original telescope hound, it served duty of the early morning skys of the 1970's with Comet Bennett and guided exposures of M42.

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