telescopes and deep sky
Most people that share that lifelong interest in the stars and the universe say that they had one or two key events that sparked everything. For me, the first key event was in spring 1976, when my father woke me up very early one morning to show me comet West low at the eastern horizon. I was eight years old at that time and the view of this comet was just overwhelming. The second spark was in 1998, in Chaco Canyon, a small National Park in New Mexico, USA, when I saw a truss tube Dob for the first time. Each night, its owner offered tours of the night sky to the National Park visitors. Late in one of those evenings, after all other visitors had left, he allowed me to use his Dob to explore the Milky Way on my own, in the middle of the desert, far away from any cities. I had seen and used a few telescopes before, but that Dob was a revelation: a telescope reduced to its very essentials.
Some time later, back in Germany, I discovered the website of Stathis Kafalis with his homemade mirrors and telescope masterpieces, and I started building my own 8-inch travel dob using an existing mirror. The next step in my career as a telescope maker was grinding the mirror for my 14-inch Dobson. This was followed later by a 22" lowrider Dob, for which I made both primary and secondary mirrors. Despite its large aperture, this telescope is still very transportable and is presently the telescope I use mainly for my deep sky observing.
Despite having made a number of mirrors and telescopes, I still consider myself mainly an observer, exploring the night sky at the eyepiece. Tracking the interwoven filaments of the veil nebula to their very ends, observing distant clusters of tiny galaxies, the uncountable stars of a globular cluster, or trying to glimpse obscure objects at the threshold of visibility -- these are impressions at the telescope that cannot be described in words.
Making my telescopes, I have profited from all the websites of other telescope makers, who documented the making of their telescopes and their ideas in the internet, and who convinced me that making a telescope is feasible at all.