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by Richard Berry, 8.50" by 11.00", 240 pages, hardbound, 3rd Editon published 2001, $29.95.

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For anyone who has ever dreamed of exploring the heavens with a telescope, Build Your Own Telescope can make that dream come true. In clear, step-by-step instructions, author Richard Berry tells how to build five telescopes, from a simple reflecting telescope suitable for a parent and child to build together to a "research-grade" 10-inch telescope capable of sustaining a lifetime's interest in astronomy. Detailed instructions include complete plans and photographs that show how anyone can construct a powerful telescope with ordinary household tools and materials.

Build Your Own Telescope includes complete plans, step-by-step instructions and 275 illustrations that show you how to build these five telescopes:

  • 4" f /10 Reflector: A sturdy and easy-to-use telescope that is perfect for beginners or as a parent/child project.
  • 6" f /8 Dobsonian Reflector: A light, compact telescope that is simple to build, but powerful enough to satisfy a backyard observer for many years.
  • 6" f /8 Equatorial Reflector: A classic design for the amateur astronomer or craftsman who wants an elegant telescope and great performance.
  • 10" f /6 Dobsonian Reflector: A powerful and versatile telescope suitable for casual stargazing or for a serious amateur's long-term observing programs.
  • 6" f /15 Refractor: A large refractor that outperforms commercial telescopes of considerably larger aperture.


Richard Berry has been an amateur astronomer and telescope maker for as long as he can remember. He ground his first telescope mirror at age 13, and has since completed over a dozen telescopes. After two years building payloads for launch aboard Black Brant research rockets, he completed his M.Sc. degree in Astronomy and joined IntraSpace International, Inc. as Project Engineer in charge of testing and certifying flightworthy key components of Apollo-Soyuz experiment MA059, the first measurements of atomic oxygen and atomic nitrogen at spacecraft altitudes.

Returning then to his interest in amateur astronomy, Berry joined the staff of Astronomy magazine. In his sixteen years as the editor of Astronomy, he built the magazine from a struggling newcomer to the largest-circulation astronomy magazine in the world. He also founded Telescope Making, the quarterly journal behind many of the breakthroughs that made the 1980s such explosive years in the growth of amateur astronomy,

In 1981, Richard Berry received the Clifford W. Holmes Award for contributions to the advancement of amateur telescope making, and subsequently the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Dorothea Klumpke-Roberts Award for outstanding contributions to better public understanding and appreciation of astronomy, and the Omega Centauri Award of the Texas Star Party for furthering astronomy and amateur telescope making through his writing, editing and teaching. In addition, the International Astronomical Union has honored his work by designating Asteroid 3684 as Berry.


"'Please send me plans for making a telescope.'So write many enthusiasts eager to begin observing but unable to buy a commercial instrument. There are already several books on just this topic, usually giving an outline which you can then flesh out according to the materials available.

"This book takes a different approach. It gives very specific nut and bolt instructions for making five separate telescopes. If you want, you can build any of them precisely as instructed, or you can adapt the designs as you please...

"The designs include many novel features, such as the use of silicone rubber cement to secure mirrors. The text is exemplary in its clarity and readability-praise that I don't bestow lightly I recommend it without reservation ' '

Robin Scagell, reviewed in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association

"Subtitled 'Complete Plans for Five Telescopes You Can Build with Simple Hand Tools,'this book is just that, with designs ranging from a simple but elegant 4.25-inch reflector (designed for an eight-year-old) to a beautiful 6-inch refractor. It assumes that you will buy commercial optics, but there is a section on homemade optics as well. Highly recommended!"

                           Geoff Chester, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

"Richard Berry is to be congratulated for compiling this fine well-illustrated book. Most books about telescope making do not include telescope plans, and many assume that you have access to a machine shop in order to make amounting. Richard shows ways to make mounts with common tools and hardware store materials. I only wish that this book had been available when I was a teenager building my first telescope.'

Richard J.Wessling, reviewed in The Strolling Astronomer, Journal of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers


"Dear Mr. Berry/Thank you for your book Build Your Own Telescope. If I had known building a telescope was so much fun I would never have bought one. I thought you might like a photo of a rich-field version of your 4-inch design. Notice the peepsight built into the handle. I chose a 4-inch f/4 because I already have a 3-inch f/11 refractor. Next project: a 10-inch Dobsonian.'

L.B.S., Clovis New Mexico

"Mr. R. Berry/ I am compelled to share with you the great gift you have given me. I have in my possession a 6-inch Dobsonian reflector telescope. When I started to build it, my wife was not crazy about me working in the garage on what she thought was a toy. What really bugged her was the kids in the neighborhood were calling her husband 'Star Man.'

"When the mirrors were delivered, it was less than two hours and I was in the yard. It's funny how kids are; one moment you are laughed at and the next you are neat. With my telescope I have been to other worlds, galaxies, nebulae and globular star clusters. Thank you for your book, your time, and most of all the gift of astronomy."

H.R.B., Riverdale, Illinois

"Dear Mr. Berry/ Ever since I can remember, I have had a love/hate relationship with the science of astronomy. I love to read about astronomers and their telescopes, but I want to do more than read. Now, following your instructions to the letter, my grandfather and I have put together a splendid telescope. The bearings are smooth and the pier is rock solid. It's sturdy, it's easy to use, it's fun!

"I have seen Io's shadow moving across the face of Jupiter north of the Great Red Spot, and I have identified five of Saturn's moons. The Messier objects are quickly falling into view: rich M46 with its ghostly planetary nebula, the tiny barbell shape of M76, the swirling arms of M51.Thank you. Thank you!"

T.O., Fullerton, California

"Dear Mr. Berry/ Thanks to your book I have achieved a 20-year goal and built a telescope with home-brew optics. Enclosed is a picture of my 6-inch f/8 scope that I call 'Blue Skies.' As you can see it is based on the design in Build Your Own Telescope. The major difference is that I went with a smaller diagonal mirror for increased contrast on planetary views."

B.L., Melbourne, Florida

"Dear Richard/ Several months ago I received your book on building a telescope and am now the proud owner of a 10-inch Dobsonian. The hours of pleasure were certainly worth the hours of fabrication. Thank you.'

A.K.W., Ivoryton, Connecticut

"Dear Mr. Berry/ Seriously, I never thought I could build a telescope. But your detail in step-by-step mode is ingenious! You left no questions to be asked. I chose the ten-inch Newtonian on the Dobsonian mount. I've never in my life had so much fun at any hobby. And I learned a little simple carpentry.

"I've received many compliments from my fellow members at our society. My very self-esteem has improved over completing a project I never thought to see through. What a wondrous book you have written. I thank you for it…"

D.R.C., Huntsville, Alabama

"Dear Mr. Berry/ Your book Build Yow Own Telescope is the best I have ever seen on the subject for the uninitiated. The ATM books by Ingalls and Texereau's book are also good, but yours is tops."

David Harbour, President, Northwest Oklahoma Astronomers

"I am a 14-year-old amateur astronomer and lately have been building a 6-inch telescope. I have based the design for my telescope on the design in Richard Berry's excellent book Build Your Own Telescope. It has proven invaluable to me. When I finish the telescope I plan to experiment with astrophotography."

R.E.M., Huntington Beach, California

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Which Telescope is for You? Magnification; Light Gathering; Aperture and Resolving Power; Telescope Types; Telescope Mounts; Picking the Right Telescope for You

Chapter 2. How Telescopes Work: Photons, Waves, and Rays: the Nature of Light; Reflection and Refraction; Combining Photons; Tracing Rays; Resolving Power and Diffraction; How Newtonian Refractors Work; Reflector Aberrations; How Refracting Telescopes Work

Chapter 3. Telescope Mountings: Support: Eliminating Vibration; Pointing: Bearings for Telescopes; Altitude-Azimuth Mountings; Tracking; Telescope Drives; Indexing: Setting Circles; Equatorial Platforms; Special Mountings

Chapter 4. Building a 4" f /10 Reflector: Ordering the Optical Parts; A Trip to the Hardware Store; Layout and Cutting; Assembling the Tube; Installing the Optics; Assembling the Mount; Finishing and Painting; Collimations; A Few Hints on Using Your New Telescope

Chapter 5. Building a 6" f /8 Dobsonian Reflector: Planning; Gathering Specialized Materials; Cutting the Parts; Assembling the Tube; Assembling the Mounting; Installing the Mirrors

Chapter 6. Building a 6" f /8 Equatorial Reflector: Planning Construction; Constructing Equatorial Head Assemblies; Constructing the Declination Axis; Assembling the Mount; Tube and Cradle Parts; Constructing the Mirror Cell and Tube; Constructing the Cradle; Assembling the Telescope and Collimating its Optics

Chapter 7. Building a 10" Dobsonian Reflector: Planning the Job; Laying Out the Wooden Parts; Sawing Parts for the Tube and Mount; Constructing the Tube; Assembling the Tube Box; Installing the Mirrors; Building the Mount; Tips on Using Your New Telescope

Chapter 8. Building a 6" f/15 Refractor: Refractor vs. Reflector Planning; Cutting Parts; Assembling the Tube; Assembling the Mount; Mounting the Objective; Installing an Unmounted Objective Conventionally; Installing an Unmounted Objective Unconventionally; Tying It All Together; Completing the Tube and Mount; Final Assembly

Chapter 9. Cells, Spiders, Focusers, Finders, and Eyepieces: Mounting the Primary; Diagonal Mirror Cells and Spiders; Focusers; Finders; Eyepieces; Eyepiece Types

Chapter 10. Home Brewed Optics: How Big? Materials; The Work Area; Preparing the Blank; Rough Grinding; Fine Grinding; Making a Pitch Lap; Polishing Out; Figuring; Fixing Figure Errors; Parabolizing; Aluminizing

Chapter 11. Optical Testing: Star Testing; Interpreting Star-Test Images; Testing in the Shop; Constructing a Tester; Observing Test Shadows; Zonal Foucault Testing; The Foucault Graph; In Search of Optical Perfection

Chapter 12. Observing with Your Telescope: Picking Sites; A Word about Magnification; The Observers Eye and State of Mind; Observing the Moon; The Bright Planets; The Elusive Planets; Asteroids; Comets; Stars; The Milky Way; Star Clusters; Nebulae; Galaxies; Astrophotography; Doing Serious Science

Appendix A: Telescope Materials

Appendix B: Materials, Suppliers, Books and Resources

Appendix C: Exemplary Telescopes