Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Meet the GODO Telescopes: Starstructure 32” Dobsonian - Lowell Observatory

Meet the GODO Telescopes: Starstructure 32” Dobsonian

Written in collaboration with Claire Gibson, Lowell Educator

Each of the Giovale Open Deck Observatory (GODO)’s six state-of-the-art telescopes were hand-selected to provide a breathtaking stargazing experience that is unrivaled by any other public observatory in the continental United States. In this blog series, we’ll be taking a deep dive into what makes each of the GODO telescopes the best of their kind.

The 32″ Starstructure Dobsonian Telescope is the largest telescope on Mars Hill (in terms of lens size, that is!), and it is used solely for public viewing. The Starstructure is a reflector, meaning that it uses two mirrors instead of glass lenses to move and focus light. The Dobsonian design offers the Newtonian reflector on a simplistic altazimuth mount that allows the user to push or pull the telescope in a horizontal or vertical motion to locate targets. This specific type of mount allows for greater access to viewing through large telescopes.

Both of the Starstructure’s mirrors are made of fused quartz, which has major advantages for clarity of the night sky. Quartz mirrors have a low thermal expansion, meaning that the mirror is less affected by heat expansion of cold contraction. Secondly, quartz mirrors cool off much more quickly than others after the sun sets, which means the mirrors don’t radiate as many heat waves, which can cause lens distortion. This telescope is excellent for viewing deep space objects such as galaxies and nebulas, which are difficult to view with smaller telescopes.

The telescope is operated using a NEXUS DSC (Digital Setting Circles) computer, which connects to the SkySafari Pro planetarium software and is the catalog/main control for the telescope. This is also how the telescope is aligned.

About the Manufacturer:

Lockwood Custom Optics

Founded in 1988, Lockwood Custom Optics (LCO) has extensive experience with making optics 24” and larger. All of their lenses are made using monolithic glass, with both of the dual lenses manufactured in-house to ensure that the entire optical system of the telescope meets company standards and works well together.

Lowell Educator Claire Gibson had the opportunity to ask LCO founder and CEO Mike Lockwood some questions about what inspired him to start manufacturing telescopes, what goes in to making one, and more! You can read their conversation below.

Talking Telescopes with Mike Lockwood

Claire: What are the advantages of using aluminum for the structure of the telescope?

Mike Lockwood: “All materials have their advantages and disadvantages. How we apply them to a given design is what will make one material have advantage over another. Starstructure is specific to amateur-built truss dobsonian telescopes, and aluminum has the advantage of offering superior structural qualities with less bulk and weight.”

C: How did the Starstructure company begin? Was there a certain drive or reason in 1998?

ML: “This story actually began in a grocery store while food shopping. I was passing through the magazine aisle, where I took notice of an astronomy magazine with a huge picture of Saturn on the cover. While flipping through the magazine I came to the classified section which had many cool telescopes for sale. I was amazed by the selection of telescopes available to the general public.”

Later that week, Mike found a Meade 4.5″ reflector on an equatorial mount at a garage sale. He brought it home and set it up that night. After fumbling and learning how to use the telescope, he set his sights on Jupiter and was blown away with the views of the bands on the surface!

From there, Mike delved even further into the world of backyard astronomy. He bought another telescope and went to his first star party, the Chiefland Astronomy Village in Chiefland, Florida. There, he encountered his first truss dobsonian, and it changed his life.

ML: “I’ve always been fascinated by space and space shows like Star Trek.  Seeing images of galaxies, nebulae, open clusters and planets through large telescopes, with my own eyes, simply opened the floodgates. After leaving the star party I was hooked and had to have one of these large reflectors.”

In 1998, Mike had created the first rendition of the telescopes he offers today. A few years later, after some more development, he began selling under the Starstructure name!

C: What makes Starstructure different from other telescope manufacturing companies?

ML: “Starstructure has continued to develop the truss telescope design, and have introduced newer technology to these types of telescopes such as ladder-less assembly systems and wireless remote control collimation.”

Mike Lockwood with the Starstructure’s primary mirror. Photo:
Mike Lockwood, founder of Lockwood Custom Optics. Photo Credit:

More About the GODO Telescopes