Helios Reflector Telescope: £40
A few weeks ago, Ted bought for his wife a telescope for birdwatching. He thought it would be a good idea to try to see Saturn’s rings with it and so, using his iPad’s Star Walk app – a truly marvellous piece of software – he discovered that 3:30 the following morning would be an ideal time to do it if the sky was clear.
Ted tumbled blearily-eyed out of bed at 3:20, discovered that the sky was clear, and went to the adjacent bedroom where he had set up the telescope. He knew it was pointing in the right direction because he had used the position of the day’s moon to calibrate it; all he had to do was tilt the telescope up a degree or two, and there Saturn would be!
He did, and it wasn’t. He turned and tilted, tilted and turned, but no Saturn. He crawled back into bed at 3:50, realising that the telescope would be fine for birdwatching but not for stargazing.
On arriving at the car boot sale a few days later, Ted noticed a large reflector telescope (what synchronicity!), but he knew that this type of telescope was relatively fragile and that the mirror would need cleaning every now and then, and so he passed it by; passed it by a few times, actually. However, he finally succumbed and approached the seller (a pleasant young chap by the name of Paul, who explained that the telescope wasn’t easily usable by someone who lived in a basement flat).
“I’ll think about it,” said Ted. “That’s what everyone’s said so far,” responded Paul, and for some reason that made Ted commit himself to its purchase.
On establishing that he would be prepared to deliver it – Ted’s wife was the only driver in the family, and she was away that day – he offered to pay the full £40 and hope that it was in working order. Decent Ted realised that it wasn’t appropriate to haggle, because a) it was the right price, and b) Paul was going to deliver it.
Just before Ted paid for the item, a man asked how much it was. “Too late,” said Paul, “This chap here has bought it,” or words along those lines. “I’m not surprised!” he said, and walked off downheartedly.
Paul delivered it the next day as promised. The mirror was filthy, but that was soon rectified with some soapy detergent and a good wash, and there was a missing screw, but that was soon replaced. It came with three lenses and has a magnification of 50x, 100x or 200x. Its object mirror has a focal length of one metre and a diameter of 200mm.
Ted’s next viewing attempt will be on 20th May.