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5/01/2010

Secret Treasure or Just Junk? Tasco 10x to 25x Astronaut Zoom Spotting Telescope

I think if those of us who are 30 or older, maybe 40 or older actually go through our closets we can find a lot of junk that we have held on to. There are old models I purchased to build, and haven't done anything with them. Coins I bought or were given that may or may not be valuable; old shoes, clothes, jewelry (thinking a few watches I either need to buy a battery for or donate to the Good Will) etc. Then there are those items of junk that connect us to our past, to people or events in our past that have impacted us for our lives. So, because the weather here is still cloudy, rainy and some snow falling every now and then, and I can't observe, I thought I would share a quick story about a secret treasure I have that some may consider junk.

I was born in 1965, so yep, I'm 45, just turned that age in April, within the last two weeks. In 1968 I was 3 when my Dad bought a Tasco Astronaut Zoom Telescope with a 10x to 25x zoom. You can see it in this 1968 Tasco Telescope Ad in the bottom right corner where the name of the scope, the Tasco 10x to 25x Astronaut Zoom 30mm Spotting Telescope for $14.95 is for sale. Now my father, who was in the Navy Reserve at the time, and had served actively in the Air Force, was a shooter and this telescope served as a spotting scope for him to see where he had hit the target while target shooting.

Here is an image. My father-in-law who is living with us, and suffers from moderately severe Alzheimer disease uses it to watch the famous Cooperton/Bingham Mine.


















In 1974 I was nine, and I can remember the moon being out, what I recognize now as just past first quarter and my Dad taking me out in the backyard with this telescope on his camera tripod to show me the moon through it. Now I grew up with the Apollo program and have memories of watching the Apollo landings on the moon, just bits and pieces. My Dad knew this and so on this night, he showed me the moon and a new world opened up to me. My Dad was pretty good about doing that, exposing me and my two sisters to new things, encouraging us to pursue what we were interested in knowing it could become a passion.

The scope on a camera tripod:






















Sadly, on June 22, 1982, as I was going into the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, my father passed away. No need for details, but it was from a heart attack, and he was only 45. At 17 people told me how young 45 is, but at 17 45 doesn't sound young. Now at 45, I realize probably more than ever before how young 45 is. How grateful I am though, that this 40 year old little telescope has survived, is still usable and though not a grand treasure, does act as a connection of me to my father.

On a local email message board, the question was asked, "What dirty little astronomy secret do you have?" I don't think mine is dirty, nor does it embarrass me. There are a few nights each year, that right around first quarter I take out this little gem, and really look at the moon and enjoy the views it has to offer. Magically, sometimes, I can reflect and still hear my father's voice as he pointed out some of the highlights on the moon. I'll even admit, being the sentimental type of guy at times, that a tear in remembrance of my father comes to my eyes, they mist, and for a moment, I truly desire to be able to hold a private star party with my father as we could examine the universe together now as adults.

I don't have my father, but I do have a wife, a son and a daughter. My daughter in the summer comes out and talks while I observe and I often find those conversations the most magical. She shares what is going on in my life, I share a view or two, but most likely in the end, I still on my observing chair and just listen and watch as this 17 year old girl is becoming a young woman. How awesome the views of the universe are, but how much more awesome is it to have been involved in raising my daughter and watching her grow and become her own person. Not always easy, as hunting down some objects aren't easy, but so worth it. My son, my summer observing partner, my star party assistant, will go with me and share in these views. In those moments we bond, and it reminds me to take time to be with him in the things that he values and treasures. My wife, she supports the hobby and takes a view once or twice a year and that's it. She never interferes and she communicates if there is something I need to be at so I don't plan a session or a trip on a certain day. Other than that, 99% of the time, she is fine with me doing my thing. Can't ask for anything better than that eh?

What's the purpose then of this post? I would hope that as you observe, and search and find the treasured objects of our universe, that each of you remember those you love, who mean something to you, and share both your obsessions with them, but also remember to share in their obsessions so that they may have a treasured moment with you after you have sailed forward into the great unknown. May your skies be cleared and the seeing good.

Original Box (the box is sitting on my wife's hobby . . . see why she doesn't complain! Yes, it's a baby grand):