Over these more than 30 years, I've had the opportunity to observe with just about every type of telescope imaginable, even some very exotic ones, and I've owned quite a few too. Being a strictly visual observer, I eventually chose the simple but unbeatable Dobsonian. In the true spirit of John Dobson, I built my own 18" telescope which was my beloved companion for many years. The Dobsonian is an ordinary Newtonian reflector on a very basic wooden structure. It lacks the computerisation and automation of the more complex telescope models, but it offers a light gathering power and observation quality unsurpassed for the money. Unfortunately I had to sell it with pain in my heart in order to partly finance my binoscope project.
18" 'PeterDob' Dobsonian
Nexus 100 astronomical binoculars
A decent pair of binoculars is a must for every astronomer. It doesn't even have to be a pair of big guns like the one I own. You'd be amazed how much there already is to see up there with ordinary field binoculars. Moreover, owning a telescope doesn't exclude the need for a pair of good binoculars either, on the contrary! Both instruments are perfectly complementary and offer a completely different observing experience. From the low-power, immersing trip through the sky which the binoculars offer, to the highly detailed journey into the depths of space of the telescope. Some nights I prefer the first, others the second. In my portfolio I've included several comparisons between telescope and big binoculars which may be helpful to you in case you're wondering what to buy, or if you'd simply want to know the difference. Note that the fork and tripod are home-built!
18" Otte Binoscope
Some astronomy enthusiasts are never happy. They always want to see more and therefore buy ever bigger telescopes. This phenomenon is called "aperture fever", the aperture referring to the size of the telescope lens or mirror. At times, "aperture fever" can lead to a severe case of brain damage. Such is the case for those who buy a gigantic binoscope... like me. This binoscope is in fact two 18" Dobsonians glued together as it were and it must be the most complex telescope type on the amateur market. But it has its compensations, such as an unequalled light gathering power, resolution and contrast. Hopefully this will result in sketches that make you dream about all the wonders out there in the night's sky.
This particular binoscope was made by the Dutch artist Arie Otte and it's taken him 15 months to complete. But in the end I'm extremely satisfied with the result and every clear night I just have to take it out at my dark site in the Apennine mountains. I'd like to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Otte for his patience, his know-how, his extraordinary service and most of all... his friendship and I could recommend his telescopes to everyone!