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The Reynolds Astronomical Telescope


THE REYNOLDS TELECOPE was originally a camera lens manufactured by Cox Hargreaves and Thomson Ltd, UK in 1970 for the Anglo-Australian joint rocket project at Woomera, South Australia. It was mated to a Vinten cine camera, mounted in a Contraves Theodolite, and code-named RAKIMOBILE (Rate Aided Kino Mount Mobile).  It was built for range measurements at Andamooka on the Black Arrow Satellite launcher and later projects.  While it looks like a reflecting telescope, it differs in some key aspects - rather more complex mirror profiles and automatic temperature correction to achieve higher than usual resolution for a unit of this size. There were three types of these lenses made between about 1952 and 1970. This one was the final unit, made to a higher specification. It was acquired by Rod Reynolds in 1998.

MOUNTING: It is normally mounted on a clock controlled equatorial mount designed and built by the current owner in 1999.  This has a fixed angle for Melbourne, Australia and is corrected for local latitude by leveling.  A crystal controlled counter/clock drives a stepper-motor at several switch-selected speeds, and controls the polar axis through a 2-stage worm drive.  Orthogonal axis control is by approximate clutch and a hand controlled zero-backlash linear actuator coupled to a control arm.  Pre-loaded roller and ball bearings with very high performance/load figures are used throughout.  Main shafts are high tensile steel, typically 50mm diameter. The mount sits on a hydraulic lift. The whole system sits on three steel box-sections resting on the ground.  The combined weight of the stand, mount and telescope is about 200kg. It may be disassembled for transport in a station-wagon and takes an hour or two to assemble.  Recent modifications not shown in the photograph include counterbalance damping to limit motor induced vibration, an additional orthogonal counterbalance, and sighting telescopes.

Other Reynolds telescopes include:
110mm f9 and 80mm f12.5 refractors (FL 1000mm) manufactured by Wray (UK) (Achromatic doublet air spaced - originally collimators for optical testing.) 

175mm f1 (FL 175mm) Schmitt manufactured by Plessey (South Africa) (has internal Cassegrain capability at about f4 but performs very badly with an eyepiece.

190mm f6.3 (FL 1000mm) Cassegrain manufactured by Askania Germany. Originally part of a large theodolite thought to be part of the tracking system for the German V2 weapon, this telescope is a work in progress.

75mm f16 refractor (FL ~1,200mm) made by John Bateman (London) about 1800 - brass tube on Cast Iron mount (not original). Restored 2010 following damage in a fire. With two original astronomical eyepieces and a terrestial inverter (shown in photograph).

Several mass-produced reflector and refractor units.

150mm f3.5 (FL 500mm) Cooke refractor (3-element) assembled for comet watching.

Several long refractor and reflector units designed as photographic "lenses" including a 1,000mm f5.6 compound reflector made by Zeiss Jena which is one of two that were re-made, possibly by Zeiss (West Germany) in the 1960s, for the Woomera instrumentation - this highly corrected unit demonstrates resolution better than 200 lpm.

The telescope on its mount
Bateman telescope & mount