Articles by Ken Graun

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1. Do you think there is life out there?

2. The demotion of Pluto

3. Photographing Pluto with a Small Telescope

4. The Star of Bethleham

5. Isn’t Space really Cold?

6. Messier Marathon

7. Thuban, the other North Star

8. Greek & Roman God Comparison

9. Tributes to my daughter!


Drawings of Mars made by Dr. Alan Binder, a world-leading planetary scientist and expert on the Moon. Dr. Binder is the only scientist in the world to have managed a spacecraft mission from conception to mission end. His spacecraft, Lunar Prospector, orbited the Moon in 1998 and 1999. It found the first evidence for water near the poles. He made the top four drawings of Mars with a replica of a late 1600s telescope that he built (a 3-inch diameter refractor based on the design of Johannes Helvelius, a German astronomer). The bottom four drawings were made with his homemade 4.25-inch reflector. The dates of the drawings were from July 4, 1988 to September 29, 1988. Note that the size of the north polar cap decreased considerably during the 3 months that he made the drawings. These drawings are proof that you can do a lot with small telescopes.

BELOW. The replica of the Hevelius telescope built by Dr. Binder which he used to draw the top row pictures of Mars. Dr. Binder has never bought any of his telescopes—he has made all of them. This is his favorite telescope and, “yes,” he ground and polished the 3-inch diameter, one-element, simple lens, having a focal length of 17 feet, 2 inches! He has seen every Messier object with this scope and viewed about 175 double stars, measuring their separations and position angles—all manually without any motors to move the scope or modern computerized equipment to help with the measurements. He moves and angles the scope by pulling on the ropes. The telescope performs much better than you would think.


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