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Sat, Aug. 24

YC astromony prof, student win award for homemade 'pulled parabolized' telescope<BR>

A Yavapai College adjunct astronomy professor and one of his students brought home certificates of merit from the 34th Annual Riverside Telescope Makers Conference over Memorial Day weekend at Big Bear, Calif.

Judges recognized Howard Moore, of Chino Valley, for his innovative work in "pulled parabolized" telescope mirrors and Walter E. Thomas, of Wickenburg, for the high-quality telescope he made in Moore's class.

More than 1,700 amateur and professional astronomers attended the conference. Judges handed out only 20 awards – ten certificates of merit and ten honorable mentions.

Courtesy Photo

Yavapai College Adjunct Astronomy Professor Howard Moore, of Chino Valley, poses with his hand-crafted telescope and the certificate of merit he won for his work on innovative telescope mirrors at a recent conference in Big Bear, Calif. The meet drew more than 1,700 astronomers from around the country.

A retired computer programmer, Moore has made telescopes for 38 years and taught astronomy at Yavapai College since 1997.

Five years ago, he teamed up with Cottonwood scientist Bill Kelley, who created the "bent glass" telescope mirror. Together they improved Kelley's method, which tensions a steel screw stuck to the center of the mirror back. Tweaking the screw's wing nut forces the glass into the parabolic shape that's perfect for clear views of celestial objects. Moore's most recent work has sought further refinements.

Thomas is a North Central Arizona Mathematics and Science Consortium board member. He has taught for 24 years in public and private schools, including The Orme School in Mayer.

This past year, he took "Introduction to Astronomical Opticals " under Moore at Yavapai College. During the class, students built their own telescopes. That included grinding and polishing the primary mirror, as well as actual construction of the telescope. The one Thomas made has a five-inch mirror with a focal length of 62 inches.

"With this telescope, I have been able to see the polar ice caps on Mars as well as numerous galaxies, star clusters and nebulae," said Thomas, who is Wickenburg School District's science coordinator. "This telescope was used by my astronomy students more than any of the other five telescopes we have."

(Contact Louise Koniarski at

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