Monday, July 10, 2006

SF authors... is there nothing they can't do?

Jerry Oltion, the science fiction author who already has my undying respect for writing the marvellous Abandon In Place has gone and upped my esteem of him another notch or six. Being a one-time amateur astronomer myself, I just about lost it when reading this article from the Eugene Register Guard:
It's amazing what some guys can do with a rubber ball and a bucket.

Toss in some plastic pipe, a Bic pen shell and assorted hardware, and you have a new way to build a telescope that literally makes stargazing a lot less of a pain in the neck. Thanks to Eugene resident Jerry Oltion's trackball telescope, there's no more bending over an eyepiece at odd angles trying to get a glimpse of Betelgeuse or the Seven Sisters.

"I do almost all of my observing sitting down," Oltion says, perched on a simple folding camp stool. "That's the beauty of it."

And do you wanna know what's really nifty about it, other than Oltion just thought it up and built it his ownself? He's published instructions on his website on how anyone can build one of their very own. You see, he thought it up and built the prototype, but chose to release it into the public domain rather than patent it. Ain't that a nice gesture from an all-around spiffy fellow?

The only drawback is that this makes me feel utterly ineffective for not getting those few screws and brackets I need in order to bring my little 6" reflector back into working order...

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