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60mm Unitron 128 - just waiting for darkness and a sky full of doubles!

What’s the DSC-60 Project?

The DSC-60 Project is a little project  in which I intend to observe the  Astronomical League’s “Double Star Club” list of 100 choice doubles using a 60mm telescope.  In the Double Star Club (DSC) rules described here , it says a 60mm telescope is the minimum they recommend.  A quick look at the list of 100 stars tells me 60mm should be enough for most of them, though some will be a challenge and a few, I’m pretty sure, I can’t split with a 60.

I am also creating a new category – you’ll find it in the drop  down menu “select category” on the left of the page – in which I’ll put all of the observations made for this project. However, in the category they will appear in chronological order. The Double Star Club list is in a very handy right ascension order, so I will also link each observation to this post – but in that same RA order making it easier for those actually doing the Double Star Club project to compare notes. If you’re going for the Astronomical League certificate – or just using their list – we encourage you to add your own thoughts in the comments form with each post. And, of course, you may be using something other than a 60mm scope, may have a different way of star hopping to the target, and undoubtedly will experience the double differently in some way than I have.

As we do with other observations, I will include star charts with these and suggested star hops. The Double Star Club list can be done with a “go to” scope, but they recommend it be done by star hopping. I heartily agree. Neither John nor I use “go to.” For us finding a double is part of the challenge and fun. (We love computers – but we want them to help us, not take over what we enjoy doing.)

Each post will be easily identifiable because it will be headed simply “DSC-60:” followed by the name of the star as the name appears in the Double Star Club list. The post will then describe that observation. If it is a star John or I have already observed and described, the post will be very brief and link to the existing description.  If it’s a star that hasn’t yet been described here it will follow the same format as the other posts, except it will be devoted to a single star, so generally shorter.

The 60mm scope

My wife is fond of warning visitors to Driftway Observatory (our backyard) not to get too attached to any one scope, She’s right. It’s so easy to buy and sell on Astronmart and Cloudy Nights these days that I’ve bought and sold more scopes in the past decade than I ever dreamed of owning. But I am settling down some to a few “dream” scopes and one of them is a 60mm Unitron 128 – sort of. (OK – if you read this space earlier you would have found me singing the praises of the 60mm Televue  Apo – and I was sincere about that scope and still think it’s great – but it’s not the stuff of my teenage dreams from long ago – dreams I still have.)

John loves these old, long focal length, achromatic refractors and for good reason. My reasons aren’t quite so good. I love the Unitron 128 because I craved it as a teenager. I lusted over the ads for it in Sky and Telescope and kept wavering back and foth between wanting it and wanting the RV-6 Dynascope.  I finally opted for the light gathering power of the 6-inch Dynascope over the rugged elegance of the 2.3-inch refractor  and never learned what I was missing until about a year ago when I got the Unitron 114. That’s the 60mm alt-az version.

Well it was good.  But that wasn’t what captured my heart 40 years ago. It was that cool-looking equatorial mount – the 60mm Model 128 – especially with a clock drive. In the Sixties no self respecting amateur astronomer would think of owning a scope on an alt-az mount. The cat’s meow was the German Equatorial Mount – GEM – and Dobsonian weren’t even a pipe dream yet, except perhaps to John Dobson. So recently  a Unitron equatorial mount for the 60mm came up for sale and I grabbed it. Now I have the alt-az and the Equatorial mount and one scope to use on one or the other mount – in other words I have a Model 114 and a Model 128.

So I sold the wonderful little – thoroughly modern – TeleVue 60 and what I got for it just about covered the cost of the Unitron EQ plus a new clock drive made for  it that the Astronomy Shoppe sells. (That last piece hasn’t arrived yet as I write this, but  I have a whole lot to learn yet about how to get themost out of that GEM.  Jhn says it looks almost Victorian with all it’s controls on long, straight rods.  He’s right. But I don’t go back that far. It looks to me like my dream scope – complete with Unihex and four original Unitron eyepieces of a three different optical designs.  That seemed to be their standard approach.  So there’s a 26mm Ramsden, an 18mm  and 12.5 Kellner, and a 9mm Symetrical.

And that, in a nutshells, is the equipment line up for the current work on the DSC-60 project.

One caution: Don’t be put off by the equipment I use. I’m on my 70th trip around our star and at the stage where I am indulging myself. There are plenty of excellent, 60mm refractors that are optically just as good, if not better, than the Unitron – and they cost considerably less.I

DSC club observed list

That said, here’s the linked list of Double Star Club stars I’ve observed to date for this project – in right ascension order. It is obviously super short to begin with, but this page will get updated with each new post.

DSC-60: Sigma Orionis – an easy triple that would get more attention if it wasn’t in such a great neighborhood!




It’s a trap! No it’s THE Trap – the truly awesome Trapezium  done DSC-60 style

DSC-60: Beta Orionis – Rigel, the Brighter Giant

DSC-60: Beta Monocerotis – a primary with twins!

DSC-60: Iota Cancri – in search of the real Winter Albireo!

DSC-60: Epsilon Bootis – Izar, a pair of delicious fruits

DSC-60: Nu Draconis & Beta Cygni – Dragons hiding gold in misty caves!

DSC-60 – Delta Herculis – will-o’-the-wisp

DSC-60: Three wide doubles in Lyra to get you started – Zeta (ζ), Beta (β), and SHJ 282AC  (OΣ 525)

DSC-60 Plus – Slithering through the lair of the lizard where he hoards a diamond in the rough

6 Responses

  1. Greetings!
    I discovered your website a few weeks ago, and have become a big fan. Double stars don’t get the recognition they deserve.
    Good luck with the DSC-60 Project. I completed the AL Double Star Club list about a year ago. I’ve split all of them with a 76mm f/10 reflector. The ones that required larger scopes were theta Aur, delta Gem, gamma Cet (viewed with a 5-inch Mak-Cas) and epsilon CMA (8-inch reflector).
    Clear Skies,
    Glenn Chaple

    • Thanks for the kind words, Glenn. We’re having fun. And I appreciate learning of your experience with the DSC list – congratulations! I noticed Porrima is on the list. Wonder how you did with that one. (The list must be outdated because it says the separation is 3.6″ and , of course, Porrima has been much, much closer for the past decade.) I would think that was a challenge for your 76? Also curious what your Mak-Cass is? I just got an ETX125 OTA which I have high hopes for, but haven’t had the steady skies to give it a fair test.

  2. A young gentleman from Highpoint Scientific shared a link to your site when I told him I have been contemplating a new refractor to replace my Unitron 128. I am in 71st trip around the sun and have caught aperture fever like just about everyone else. Of course for me aperture fever is a 4 to 5 inch refractor, an 8 inch SC or an 8 inch Newtonian. I did acquire an UTI 8 from infinity scopes about 8 years ago, but it just doesn’t give me the convenience of setting up in the back yard for a short session. There are no drives or even manual slow motion controls. It may be portable, but not so easy to use, especially for short observing sessions. Since I am still working, I just don’t have a lot of “set-up” time. So, I have been thinking a Sky Watcher or Explore Scientific ED might be good. Not too expensive, easy to move around and easy to get out under the stars with for short looks after dinner. But, now, after visiting your site perhaps I will just contact Astronomy Shoppe and order a clock drive, get a modern wide field EP for the 1.25 inch slot in my Unihex and just continue to enjoy my Unitron. Perhaps, I will follow your lead and set a goal to pick off the doubles on your list. At least I know most we will be successes with my 128. Thanks for the post and unsolicited encouragement.
    San Diego

    • Hi Skip,

      Just saw your comment in the pending list and had to approve it to get it to show up here.

      Aperture fever is hard to resist, but on the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for convenience — especially as a person gets older. The ideal situation is to have an observatory of some type, which eliminates the setup time and consequently allows larger apertures with more convenience.

      One of those astronomical frustrations we all have to wrestle with at one time or another!


  3. Hi John,
    Life just doesn’t get any better than a short focus 4 inch refractor, an 8 inch Newtonian or a 128 Unitron. Indeed they all will throw up some truly spectacular views with little effort. To think one of my granddaughters is very interested in Astronomy and can point out some planets and major stars and constellations. She is only six. I am sure in a very short time she will be spending time with me in the backyard. What more can a Grandpa ask for.

  4. I recently was fortunate to have found and purchased an excellent condition 63mm. 840fl Zeiss Telementor refractor kit. I purchased it to observe doubles, planets and Luna. The amici prism 4-ep turret is wonderful and will help make my observations more comfortable with a range of .965 Zeiss Ortho, Hyugens and a TV 22mm Panoptic seated and ready when needed. No fumbling in the dark now for eyepieces. I downloaded the wonderful Star Splitters report and am starting my adventure into the wonderful world of double star observing tonight. Thank you for inspiring me to finally begin my adventure which I’ve been putting off for years.
    Clear skies, George. L.I. NY.

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