Telescope Rides On 3D Printed Equatorial Table

In the realm of amateur astronomy, enthusiasts find themselves navigating a cosmos in perpetual motion. Planets revolve around stars, which, in turn, orbit within galaxies. But the axial rotation of the Earth and the fact that its axis is tilted is the thing that tends to get in the way of viewing celestial bodies for any appreciable amount of time.

Amateur astronomy is filled with solutions to problems like these that don’t cost an arm and a leg, though, like this 3D printed equatorial table built by [aeropic]. An equatorial table is a device used to compensate for the Earth’s rotation, enabling telescopes to track celestial objects accurately. It aligns with the Earth’s axis, allowing the telescope to follow the apparent motion of stars and planets across the night sky.

Equatorial tables are specific to a location on the Earth, though, so [aeropic] designed this one to be usable for anyone between around 30° and 50° latitude. An OpenSCAD script generates the parts that are latitude-specific, which can then be 3D printed.

From there, the table is assembled, mounted on ball bearings, and powered by a small stepper motor controlled by an ESP32. The microcontroller allows a telescope, in this case a Newtonian SkyWatcher telescope, to track objects in the sky over long periods of time without any expensive commercially-available mounting systems.

Equatorial tables like these are indispensable for a number of reasons, such as long-exposure astrophotography, time lapse imaging, gathering a large amount of observational detail for scientific purposes, or simply as an educational tool to allow more viewing of objects in the sky and less fussing with the telescope. They’re also comparatively low-cost which is a major key in a hobby whose costs can get high quickly, but not even the telescope needs to be that expensive. A Dobsonian telescope can be put together fairly quickly sometimes using off-the-shelf parts from IKEA.

3D Printed Newtonian Telescope Has Stunning Looks, Hadley Breaks The Bank

Have you ever considered building your own telescope? Such a project can be daunting, especially if you grind your own mirrors. But with a 3D printer, hardware store bits and bobs, and some inexpensive pre-made mirrors, you too can be the proud owner of your very own own Hadley — a 900mm Newtonian Telescope that can cost less than $150 USD to build! Check out the video below the break to get a good scope on the project.

Astrophotography is possible with the Hadley

The creator’s stated goal is to “make an attractive alternative to the shoddy, hard to use “hobby-killer” scopes in the $100-200 range“, and we have to say that it appears to have met its goal admirably. The optics — the most complex part of any build — can be easily purchased online, and the rest of the parts are available at your local hardware store.

While the original build was provided in Imperial measures, a metric version is now available. Various contributors have created a rich ecosystem of accessories and alternative versions of various parts, all in the interest of making the telescope more useful. Things like tripod mounts, phone mounts (for use with your favorite star chart app) and more are only a click away. The only real question to answer is “What color filament will I use?”

Of course, sometimes light waves can get a bit long in the tooth, and for those cases you’ll want a radio telescope, which can also be DIY’d thanks to the availability of satellite dishes and SDR dongles!

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