View Full Version here: : 4" Polarex/ Unitron
23-03-2012, 09:48 AM
Hi all, purchased this scope off John yesterday,couldn't wait to get home and set it up.What a beautiful thing this thing is.I couldn't stop looking at it,had to be dragged away by the wife when dinner was ready.Its a monster of a scope,the build is so professional,unlike the plastic scopes that are around today.Naturally,the skies were overcast,so didn't get a chance to do any viewing.I was telling John I saw these scopes in the 60's and early 70's and could only drool over them,there was no way I could afford one then.I know John was sad to see it go,but I can assure him its found a great home.I'm going to give it a go just using the alt mount to see how it handles viewing the planets,moon ,etc.I will then see how it performs on one of my Meade goto mounts,like I said can't wait,hopefully clear skies this weekend.Cheers.:) :)
23-03-2012, 10:18 AM
I congratulate you on buying this scope! Had I not already owned both a 106 and 130 refractor, I may have bought this one!
I was one of those boys drooling over this scope in Astro Optical back around 1969/1970. They had one in their window at Clarke Lane Crows Nest. It was so big, I would try to spot it down Hume street (which runs off the highway to the left) as I passed it on the bus. It dominated the front window. I wonder if this one is that very scope?
23-03-2012, 10:35 AM
Yes, I too used to frequent the shop at Crows Nest when I was a lad,I can't remember the old gents name,but he sure was a knowledgeable guy,always approachable.I wonder,does anybody have any copies of the catalogues they used to put out back then,love to see one.
23-03-2012, 10:36 AM
As I said the other day, I am very sad to say goodbye:sadeyes::sadeyes: to my "ole observing buddy"...but I know it's gone to a good home:):)...somewhere were it will be appreciated, not only as a telescope, but as a piece of art!!
I hope you have many, many, years of enjoyment with this instrument Kev!!
It was also a pleasure to meet a fellow Unitron/Polarex enthusiast.
Cheers, John. :)
23-03-2012, 10:41 AM
I have links to the Unitron catalogues. I have look through my folders and send them to you.:)
23-03-2012, 10:42 AM
I may be wrong, but I think it was Eric Whitcombe who was the proprietor of "Amateur Astronomers Supply company" Can someone confirm or correct me on this?
23-03-2012, 11:03 AM
Thanks John, I'd also like to see a copy of the actual AASC catalogues that showed all the bits they used to sell.I remember I used to get one in the mail every now and then.
23-03-2012, 01:01 PM
Boy a few of us sure drooled over this scope in that same window! Me in the early 70s with my brother David. Caught a train from the Western Suburbs and walked all the way from the station. I had a feeling there was a Monty there?
I actually ended up owning a 4inch eq model in around 1995, picked it up for $300 from a guy who bought it 20 years earlier and had it under his bed all that time. He was moving back to UK - only had a few days left in OZ and just wanted it gone or was (and I am serious) going to the dump! I then on sold it a few years later and have kicked myself ever since. Came "that close" to buying this one. Good buy Kev.
23-03-2012, 04:22 PM
Yes that is correct. He made his fortune from the Supply Co. when the dollar was worth 300 Yen for many years ,so a very good profit to be had on Unitron gear. He bought up a huge amount of Crows Nest industrial real estate and retired a very wealthy man. I still smart a little when as a young lad I would go in feeling very adult to get the latest catalogue and Eric would insist on me paying for it ( implication being I would never afford to actually buy anything , so I was a liability ! :)
I bought my first mirror grinding kit ( 6" ) for the huge sum of $14 in 1974. I remember paying for it rather sheepishly with a huge bag of coins .
AASC was rebadged Astro Optical Supplies in 1977 when dressed up to sell ,and Monty Ash owned it until it was sold to the current owner in about 1992. The heart of AASC was its locally built Newtonains and Unitron refractors both of which bit the dust when the new owner took over.
If you read the history of Unitron you see that the Japanese made Vixen range of short Flourite refractors killed the bulky Unitron achromat line in a short space of time. I remember marvelling at the views through a Vixen 4" F9 when they first came out. Who would have thought that it would be considered slow my todays standards. I owned a 4" F15 Polarex altaz in 3 boxes. It lasted only months after I purchased a Vixed 80mm Flourite which was far more portable and had perfect colour correction. I still would love to own an 80mm Unitron for nostalgia value if I had somewhere to store it. There was a lot of boyhood romance associated with that long row of Unitron retractors in AASC. It was probably their unatainability that made them so desirable !
23-03-2012, 05:47 PM
Do you remember, the 6" Unitron Photo Equatorial at the front of the shop, taking pride of place. The focal length was 2000mm, it had a 10x40mm finder + a 60mmx 700mm guidescope + many, many other accesories..too many to mention here.
It stood from the bottom of the pier to the middle of the tube at 2.2 metres!!
And it all went for (in 1970) for $6000!!!
You could buy a Falcon or Holden for just over $3000 at the time!!
But......boy o boy, that 6" made you feel like you owned the Hale 200";)
23-03-2012, 06:20 PM
Good on you Kev - a great buy. I've known John for nearly six years at MAS, and he has been singing the praises of this scope since I've known him. He also had its smaller brother, the 60mm, which I borrowed for a while a few years back. It was a little jewel as well. great units, the both of them. Liquid-smooth hardware.
I, too, used to look at this scope as a kid in 1974 I went to North Sydney Boy's High just down the road in Falcon Street. I actually ended up in the office right above Astro Optical in Hume Street years later.
Good outcome Kev and John. :thumbsup:
23-03-2012, 09:20 PM
:) Yes John , if I did not have a 90mm and 127mm I would have grabbed it as well , what an awsome piece of telescope history , I was that close !!!! , as I to drouled over these as a young :shrug:, broke lad many years ago also.
Condratulations Kev , its a beautiful scope and I hope you get many years observing out of her .
A real airloom .
24-03-2012, 02:35 PM
He certainly was or at least the director as shown in the attached pic of his published telescope making book back in the mid 1960's. In fact his surname has no 'h' in it which is something I always remembered, apart from his squinty eye, probably spent a lot of time at the eyepiece one wonders. He was a real gentlemen, happy to talk at great length about anything astronomical and particularly helpful to young people starting out in astronomy. His shop in Crows Nest, albeit rather small, had a certain quality I'll always remember. It may have been a combination of smell, various instruments and books etc., but definitely unforgetable. I spoke to Eric around six of seven years ago from memory, he was living somewhere down Mosman way and must have been well into his eighties. I recall that he wasn't much interested in talking about his days in the astronomical business at Crows Nest but preferred to talk about golf which I am sure, on the day, was holding him up playing that morning! Monte Ash took over the business and he was also very committed to amateur astronomy.
I have been collecting Polarex/Unitron telescope ever since those days and now have a garage full of them but for some reason haven't had the heart to sell any of them. I have helped people out in the past with various parts and accessories but I know one day the telescopes will have to go.
I have attached a couple of pics of pages from the AASC from 1972 to give some idea of the relative costs at the time. More information can be found at http://geogdata.csun.edu/~voltaire/classics/ regarding Polarex/Unitron telescopes and others. I have contributed to this site and am still in the process of scanning catalogues, brochures and instruction manuals for them.
25-03-2012, 06:16 PM
I've got two 4" Unitrons - one is the photo equatorial and the other is the equatorial. I don't have an alt-az and I was very tempted to round the collection out with that one! They are a bit of a lump to haul around, and I have one with stellar optics (pun intended) and one with very ordinary optics. I spent a fortune on the poorer getting the coatings re-done and was able to eliminate the ghost images, but it still has about 1/2 wave of spherical abberation. For solar system work they're great, and chasing the Messier objects it's kind of fun. But the primary purpose is to sit in my living room as a work of art. Someone on the Unitron forum (Yahoo groups - come and join!) once said:
"Unitrons, you spend more time looking at them than through them".
Enjoy, and welcome to the club!
25-03-2012, 06:37 PM
You should be able to correct that by changing the 3 air space shims with a different thickness. I have done this a few times.
25-03-2012, 06:58 PM
Thanks David - I have tried this, but the shims would need a negative thickness! I've certainly improved things by going down to a few thou and it is nowhere near as bad as when I bought it from the dealer in Melbourne. The difference between the two scopes is fairly significant - the good one can split Antares, the companion sits right in the space between the first Airy ring and the centre peak.
27-03-2012, 11:30 AM
I can vouch for Davids shims on lenses as I bought a 6" f8 refractor from him a while back. Great scope David if you read this, gives better views than my 8" reflector on Jewel Box and such like...have spent hours glued to the eyepiece:D But back to the topic... I got to use a 3" Unitron eq that I borrowed from my high school for a couple of years, no one else wanted it and still remember the thrill of getting it set up, and some how learning to use the setting circles.... the rest of the time it was room art ,just beautiful. That and the AASC catalouge.... memories from the late 70's. Time to start saving for the next Unitron scope on the classifides, don't know what I'll tell my wife though...Matt
27-03-2012, 11:42 AM
Great to hear Matt ! Enjoy......
27-03-2012, 02:11 PM
Thats easy, just say you're buying some telescope bits, worked for me!
27-03-2012, 03:33 PM
Some telescope bits!!!!At something close to two metres long that is a big bit...
27-03-2012, 05:35 PM
Yep. My wife definitely noticed it. Fortunately the kids loved it. I thought I could slip the second one under the radar, but guess what?! She didn't fall for my explanation that the first one must have been pregnant.
PS - warning - Unitrons are collectible, and once you start, it will seem perfectly reasonable!
27-03-2012, 05:41 PM
Beware when your wife asks "what is that THING in the lounge room"?:lol:
27-03-2012, 05:58 PM
She says that to me all the time...:lol:
27-03-2012, 06:33 PM
Yep, my 6" Polarex lives in the garage out of sight, its tube length is 4 metres!
27-03-2012, 07:03 PM
Have you any pix of your 6"scope Steve ? And your other scopes.
27-03-2012, 07:14 PM
Probably already been a thread on this but, how many folks on this forum have a Unitron or Polarex, and how do they find them as practical scopes? Lots of pix too.
27-03-2012, 10:56 PM
OK you want pics!- here's the 4" giving a piggyback to my Lunt80Ha, and the other is the real owner of this scope resolving craterlets in Plato.
Everyone say Awwww...
01-04-2012, 10:19 AM
A couple of pics of the 6" Polarex/Unitron scope shown. First pic shows the 6" in my garage undergoing restoration (6' ladder gives some idea of scale) and the second pic is what it will look like when restored.
01-04-2012, 01:24 PM
Oh yeh !!! Awesome......
02-04-2012, 07:09 AM
Looks like a great project ,very impressive Steve.
vBulletin® v3.8.7, Copyright ©2000-2013, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.