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Testimonial - David Godwin

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Although I have always been interested in scientific matters, including astronomy of

course, it was only after retirement from the BBC that I was able to take up practical

astronomy. Two things that really helped were, making my own Dobsonian

telescope, and joining Wycombe Astronomical Society.

At this time, towards the end of the last century, telescopes for sale were very

limited and unsophisticated, so it was a good option to make one's own – a

Dobsonian of course, being relatively easy to make. This type of 'scope was named

after its inventor John Dobson, a sometime Californian monk who worked out a very

simple way of mounting a Newtonian reflector telescope.

Really keen telescope makers grind their own mirrors. I would have loved to have

done this but doubted if I would have enough patience to see it though. So I decided

to nip over to Tring and order a David Hinds mirror, but was disappointed to find he

had recently stopped manufacture. So I got a 8 inch Orion Optics mirror and an

elliptical secondary. Then, using wood from an old kitchen, some wooden batons and

a sheet of Formica I made my Dob which to my surprise worked quite well.

At this point I thought it would be good to find a local Astronomy club and of course

up came WAS. It was very stimulating to meet other members including other DIY

telescope makers. One DOB I remember even had electronic tracking. One very

useful learning experience came when I undertook the WAS 50 project. In order to

complete this in a reasonable time it was a case of learning that 'astronomers do it

all night' which speeded things up quite a bit. This was in the days when

photography was done with film – things should be much easier now with digital


Another great thing about WAS is the range of most excellent lectures. These have,

over the years, been a great way of expanding my own small knowledge of life, the

universe and everything.

Fortunately by the time of the Venus Transit on June 6th 2004 I had acquired a digital

camera (Nikon 990 with 3.4 Mpixel chip and costing over £900) . I was able to fix

the camera to the Dob to image the complete transit.


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