Ford and Arthur Under Orion
Starting in 1666, Isaac Newton experimented with prisms to understand how light could split into the rainbow spectrum and be recombined back into full-spectrum, white light. Newton also knew that rainbows were the bane of early telescopes. His hypothesis was that the design of lenses was to blame and he proved himself correct by building a new kind of telescope where mirrors did the majority of the work. His 1668 prototype telescope was only 7” long and used a 2” diameter bronze mirror, yet it nevertheless provided rainbow-free views and enough clarity to show four Galilean moons orbiting Jupiter. His second and third telescopes were slightly larger, but by 1792, Newton had proven his point and moved onto calculus and other pursuits.
To this day, the Newtonian Telescope is still favored by both professional and amateur astronomers alike. It blends the wide-field views of modern refractors (long and skinny, all-lenses telescopes) and high-power magnification of the short and girthy catadioptric telescopes where both mirrors and lenses are used. If you want one telescope that can do it all, get a Newtonian. The Hubble Space Telescope is a Newtonian, as is Ford, the telescope in the foreground.
All the telescopes of Dark Ranger Telescope Tours are named for characters and things from Douglas Adam's 5-part Trilogy, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Ford Prefect, a researcher for that wholly remarkable book, who, while visiting Earth, takes the name for a model of car misnamed high above its actual performance status, thinking that would help him blend in among the humans. Ford is the eponym for this 12" Skywatcher Newtonian Telescope, because like Ford, who becomes Arthur Dent's (whose namesake telescope is in the background) most trusted traveling companion across space and time, this Ford can also travel both far and wide. To put it another way, most telescopes can only look at one tiny spec of sky at a time, for example zooming in on the Orion Nebula, the middle smudge of the sword that hangs from Orion’s belt. After Ford has shown you that stunning view of stars being born, you can switch to low-power eyepiece and this same scope could show you an entire star cluster, which is the next step in stellar evolution. A classic star cluster is Pleiades Star Cluster – described in the mythology by many cultures as being maidens. Orion, for nefarious reasons, has already chased the group of young ladies out of the frame of this astro art. Nevertheless, Ford could be pointed in their direction and reveal that instead of “7 Sisters” visible to the unaided eye, there are actually over 50 bright blue and white sibling stars in the group.
We won’t sell you our best buddy Ford, don’t even ask. But we can sell you small, medium, and large versions of the astro art he posed for. What’s more you can also buy an amazing picture, in any of those three sizes of the Pleiades Star Cluster we used Ford to image.