(An Introduction: Future Blogs Will Cover Actual Observations)
Russ Lederman - Founder and sole operator of Denkmeier Optical
Hello fellow star gazers! I want to share my astronomical observations of our Universe with all of you. Typically, when I answer your phone calls, I try my best to describe what your experience is likely to be if you choose Denkmeier Optical and myself as your source for two eyed views. I always want to know about you, your equipment, your experience level, and the type of sky you will be observing from.
Is it strictly from your home? Will you travel to remote sites? What type of objects do you like to observe? Planets and Lunar or everything within reach of your telescope? This type of information helps me paint a very realistic picture of what you are likely to see through your instruments and your Binotron 27. My goal is to give everyone who has yet to observe with a Binotron 27 and LOA 3D Eyepieces a real taste of what to expect; no hyperbole, just an accurate picture based on my own experience using many telescopes. Yes, I am the inventor of The Power Switch, The OCS (Optical Corrector System that allows focus), The LOA 3D Eyepieces, as well as The Power Switch Star Diagonals. Still, I always try to be very objective in my recommendations to anyone who inquires about the products.
First a bit about me.
I'm Russ Lederman, the founder of Denkmeier Optical. I build each and every Binotron 27 myself. As I assemble each and every system, I check every optical surface and coatings as I construct your order. Each and every Binotron is collimated to the highest degree for a perfect image merge! I build the 3D Eyepieces and incorporate every technique that I derived during several years of original research and painstaking field observations in order to create the most aesthetically pleasing and immersive experience possible. I'm not just the inventor of these things, I use them every chance that I get, clear sky permitting!
Let's Rewind; How I Started
I started with a virtually unusable toy telescope as a young boy. I remember staring up at a kite-like asterism as a child, wondering what that beautiful group of stars was. This was in Brooklyn, NY where I was raised. I didn't know that what I was looking at was actually an open cluster called The Pleiades. It was beautiful to me notwithstanding and I thought it to possibly be The Little Dipper. I had also heard that another kid who lived down the block had a telescope that could show the rings of Saturn. I never got to look through it but just the thought of that ignited an interest in me. It wasn't until I was in my 20s that it crystalized; Go Get A Real Telescope! So that I did. My first legitimate instrument was a 10" Meade LX3 SCT. I lived in a two story walkup back then and would carry it all down to a pickup truck, drive out of a town called Salisbury MD to a place in The Pocomoke Forest. The night sky was inky black. I can still recall seeing objects like M13, M31, M42, M46 in Puppis with it's accompanying planetary nebula NGC 2438 seen in the same field. Those views remain fresh in my mind and I can still feel the cold night air and see the scintillating starlight above me.
I guess one could say that I had a knack for optics. Working with binoviewers involved a lot of experimentation, imagining, testing in the field, and then optimizing. One thing leads to another so it wasn't like I figured out everything at once. What I did see as a problem with binoviewing as opposed to single eye viewing was that pairs of eyepieces were required. Changing pairs in the dark for viewing objects at different magnifications was simply not fun. Buying several pairs of quality eyepieces was also expensive! The compound OCS system that I first came up with utilized both a custom designed negative optic that moved the focal plane through the binoviewer to the eyepieces and a positive type of optic in the housed inside of the nose that reduced the magnification created by the front negative lens. It was all attached and contained in one tube.
What if I developed a slide system that allowed the observer to introduce and then withdraw the positive lens that was currently affixed in the nose area of the single tube? Eureka, instant multiple magnifications with ONE pair of eyepieces! The early power switch was born. Now not only can a positive optic be toggled in and out but so can an additional negative optic if the power switch had two opposite lens carriers. I applied this concept to star diagonals and SCT telescopes. That old LX3 10" SCT scope had a reducer threaded to the male exit of the tube assembly for reduction views of nebula. I typically kept it on the scope all night because I wasn't about to remove the star diagonal, thread off the reducer, thread the star diagonal on again, etc. Why not build a power switch star diagonal that allowed a reducer to slide in and out and also a barlow on the opposite slider? This is our Power Switch Star Diagonal S2. It works for both the Binotron and single eyepieces in an SCT. I hope this doesn't read like a commercial but I just want to allow you to understand how I got to where I am as an inventor and builder of fine bio-cular systems for telescopes at this moment in time.
I always imagined what things I myself would want to have while observing the night sky, but didn't exist yet. That is, and always has been my primary motivation. I also believe that bringing original devices to our pursuit of the heavens contributes to the positive evolution of our hobby. By the way, I sort of hate using the term "hobby" to describe what we all are involved in. It is so much more and in my opinion, we are striving to grasp the reality of what we all are and what our place is in The Universe. Is that pursuit aptly described by using the term "hobby"?
LOA 3D Eyepieces
As we all know, The Universe is anything but two dimensional and flat. Yet when we view any two objects outside of infinity focus, they appear to exist side by side on a flat plane. With our naked eyes, the distance where true depth perception (not counting interpreting depth via visual clues) disappears can be expressed in feet or meters. Typically 30-40 feet or so seems to be the range where we can observe depth. Yes, we can estimate differences in the distance of objects that are far away using various visual clues like apparent size differences (ex: seeing two people with one being much smaller, hence we observe/interpret the smaller person as being further away). However, to really experience the mechanism of direct depth perception requires a horizontal offset of an object as seen in one eye compared to the other. Two eyes are required and this horizontal difference in the position of an object in one eye vs the other is how our brain creates a 3D image.
I had worked with Binoviewers full time for over 16 years. It was early on in my career that I periodically imagined ways to allow the heavens to be viewed in 3D. I mean every object up there is at vastly different distances to one another. Some being hundreds of thousands of miles apart, others being many millions of light years apart! Would it not be glorious to observe a Universe showing it's true nature, a Cosmos with depth? Is that not a state of reality, more so than the flat Universe viewed by Man since prehistoric times? Over 16 years of thinking, attempting, failing, and giving up, I finally had a Eureka Moment. And my initial test using experimental optics and viewing the open cluster, M35 in my own 20" F5 Telescope proved it could work! It took well over a year to refine and optimize the optical components involve and there were many hurdles to be overcome. I am very proud to say that since 2016, people all over world are viewing the night sky in 3D. Believe me when I say, I don't view deepsky in any other way but in 3D, and that has nothing to do with the fact that I invented it. I do so because it is thrilling and beautiful to me each and every time I set up, and explore the heavens in luxurious 3D.
So that's some background about what I do, and how I got here. Thanks for reading. Be sure to check my next blog for my descriptions of actual observations with recommended "best" 3D targets . I try to get out to the observatory twice monthly. While I have more than 4 years of observing in 3D, my blogs will be comprised of actual new observations rather than digging back into memories. Clear skies!
My Push-To 20" F5 Dob Equipped with NexusII, Sky Safari Plus & Ipad