A Thing Of BeautY: First Light Report

by Bob Jardine

20 July 2003

I'm sure you all remember your Greek Philosophy. That stuff about form and function? And you've all seen beautiful things (form) that serve no useful function or very utilitarian things (function) that aren't much too look at. The ultimate in beauty is when form and function are in total harmony. In the case of a telescope, that would be one that performs exquisitely when looked through, but is so beautiful itself that you just want to look at it, not through it.

Yesterday I took delivery of a new CPT (Compact Precision Telescope) from our very own Mark Wagner, complete with a "First Base". If you haven't seen this telescope or the base, you owe yourself a favor: check it out at


As I said, this is a Thing of Beauty. If it didn't belong out under clear night skies, then it would belong in an art museum. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I'm not asking you to take my word for it...check it out yourself and make up your own mind. See the web site or, better yet, come see a CPT in person.

Last night (at Coyote Lake) wasn't the best night for an optics test. It was partly cloudy and the seeing was yucky-sucky (that's a technical term). Actually, the seeing got better as the clouds got worse, and I did get a few pretty nice views of double stars and globs. And Mars, eventually (very bright white south polar cap). None of the views were to die for, but then I don't think anyone was getting much better out of any other instrument. TOBY will have to wait for a better night to really show what it can do in the function department.

BTW: I understand that Jim Everett also made significant contributions to the CPT design.

Big thanks to Mark and Jim for bringing this Thing of Beauty into the world. I will be forever indebted to them, far beyond the cost of the instrument, for the privilege of owning and using it.