© 2013

Classic Telescopes

A Guide to Collecting, Restoring, and Using Telescopes of Yesteryear


Part of the Patrick Moore's Practical Astronomy Series book series (PATRICKMOORE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Neil English
    Pages 1-18
  3. Neil English
    Pages 19-43
  4. Neil English
    Pages 45-69
  5. Neil English
    Pages 71-84
  6. Neil English
    Pages 97-125
  7. Neil English
    Pages 127-150
  8. Neil English
    Pages 151-157
  9. Neil English
    Pages 159-176
  10. Neil English
    Pages 177-190
  11. Neil English
    Pages 191-211
  12. Neil English
    Pages 213-222
  13. Back Matter
    Pages 227-239

About this book


Classic Telescopes explores the exciting world of telescopes past, as well as the possibilities involved in acquiring these instruments. What are classic telescopes? First, the book takes a look at the more traditional telescopes built by the great instrument makers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the dynastic houses founded by the likes of John Dollond, Alvan Clark, Thomas Cooke & Sons and Carl Zeiss, plus some lesser-known luminaries, including John Brashear, John Calver, and Henry Fitz.

Instruments constructed from the 1950s until as recently as the early 1990s are now also considered 'classic.' There is thus a very active market for buying and selling these 'modern' classics. The author examines some of the most talked about instruments on the amateur Internet forums, including the Unitron refractors, the Questar 90, a classic 6-inch reflector, the RV-6; a 3-inch F/15 achromat by Fullerscopes; the time-honored AstroScan Richfield reflector; and many, many more.

Classic telescopes are of interest to amateur astronomers for a variety of reasons. There are, of course, the dedicated collectors, but in addition many amateurs love classic telescopes for their nostalgia. These telescopes have a fit and feel quite unlike any contemporary telescope and perhaps a unique ability to reconnect the owner to a bygone age of craftsmanship.

This book not only informs as to what's out there and how to acquire it but also provides a wonderful historical background on the evolution of telescopes in a world just beginning to recognize the treasures to be found in scanning the skies. Just reading about this world can help you feel a part of it, and if you decide to continue on with collecting, then this book can serve as an invaluable guide in your pursuit.


Achromatic refractors Amateur astronomers Antique telescope market Apochromatic telescopes Catadioptric telescopes Clark refractors Classic apochromats Classic telescopes Collecting telescopes John Dollond Thomas Cooke

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Fintry by GlasgowUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Self-confessed classicist, Dr. Neil English, is the author of two influential books on commercial telescopes, both published by Springer, including the highly lauded Choosing and Using a Refracting Telescope and Choosing and Using a Dobsonian Telescope. English has conducted extensive research on the properties of the classical refractor and published widely on his finding both online and in commissioned articles for leading amateur astronomy periodicals, including Astronomy Now. He lives under the dark skies of rural central Scotland with his wife and two sons.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors


“This is a fine volume and I have learned many interesting new facts about other equipment despite my long experience in this field. I wholeheartedly recommend its purchase.” (Leonard Matula, The Observatory, Vol. 140 (1274), February, 2020)

From the book reviews:

“‘Classic Telescopes’ is a good introduction to historic telescope makers and their lives and creations mostly focusing on those telescope makers that also made smaller instruments that might end up in the hands of an amateur astronomer. … In general it was fascinating and a fast read. … this book makes for a good eye-opener as it introduces opticians and their work in a less academic way that would be appealing for a larger general audience.” (Kadri Tinn,, December, 2014)

“Part of Patrick Moore’s Practical Astronomy Series … Classic Telescopes approaches the topic from a skilled collectors and telescope operators perspective. The focus is primarily on refractors of yesteryear, with a scattering of reflectors from the past century thrown in. … Classic Telescopes is an indispensable reference resource for anyone refurbishing or hunting for a piece of astronomical history. Interspersed with expert reviews and great close-up pics, this guide provides a unique insight into a fascinating branch of optics and astronomy.” (David Dickinson, Astro Guyz, November, 2012)