I became addicted to Unitrons many years ago when I bought a 50mm Unitron 105 scope at a flea market. I discovered the joys of small aperture with that scope, observing double stars and the moon.
Unitron 105 50mm refractor
These scopes are oblivious to seeing, always delivering perfect diffraction patterns around stars. Because of the small aperture the airy disks are relatively large which make it much easier to see the color difference in the double stars that have a large enough separation to be split with this aperture. I’ll never forget the appearance of Eta Casseopea in that scope. Beautiful!
One of my favorite Unitrons is the often overlooked Unitron 131C. It offers large enough aperture to see great detail on the Moon and planets, is relatively insensitive to seeing, has plenty of focal length so you can use comfortable eyepieces. To top it off the scope is one hand portable on its mount! I am lucky enough to own two of the superb green lens versions. They are optically perfect, even with the presence of the folding mirrors. I would compare them with any Zeiss of similar aperture.
Unitron 131C 75mm f/15 folded refractor
My ultimate favorite is the 160. Wow, what a package. It is like having an observatory in the back yard, and is about as difficult to move. I seldom set it up because the task is so arduous. But it is a stunning sight and the performance matches its appearance.
Unitron 160 4 inch f/15 refractor
Here are pictures of a couple of Duetrons. A Duetron is a device that allows two people to look through the same telescope at the same time. It was an accessory available from the Unitron company for many years during the 1950’s through the 90’s. The most common version was designed for .965″ eyepieces. A more rare version was designed for 1.25″ eyepieces. Here they are pictured next to each other. The one on the left in the bottom picture is the more common .965″ version. Note that the 1.25″ version is designed to go into a 1.25″ focuser while the .965″ was designed to fit into a Unitron draw tube.
I recently acquired a broken and incomplete Unitron Weight Drive and restored the missing three ball governor. The replicated drive is on the right in this picture.
Unitron Weight Drive and Replica
For all the details see Restoration of a Unitron Weight Driven Clock Drive .
Take a look at this picture. Guess which Unitron altaz mount is bigger
They appear to be about the same size because, of course, I used a trick of perspective. The one on the left is for a three inch telescope and the one on the right is for a much larger 4 inch. I have often been confused by pictures of these mounts because it is nearly impossible to tell them apart without a sense of scale. Here are the same two mounts seen right next to each other. (Sorry, I switched them from left to right). You can now see that the mount for the 4 inch is much larger, more massive and stronger.
Here are three mounts next to each other. The one on the far left is for a 60mm scope, though I have seen three inch scopes mounted on it.
For more views of Unitron altaz mounts with their associated telescopes onboard please check out my YouTube Video at http://youtu.be/ETlMv-KLEVM .
This is a Unitron 4 inch mount alongside a nearly identical home-built mount of unknown origin. The similarities between them are numerous. They both have the Unitron style declination slow motion controls, large high quality setting circles and are nearly identical in size and overall design. But the home-built mount actually has several improvements over the superb Unitron, including a breathtaking mechanical clock drive adjustment mechanism. The unknown maker of this mount was a genuine craftsman of the highest caliber. I call this mount a Uni-Clone with the greatest possible respect. You can see closeups of the mount, clock drive and corrector on Youtube at http://youtu.be/d1VNP8gpH-I .
- A perfect blend of functionality and beauty.
- Exquisite craftsmanship
- Many unique and quirky features.
- Demonstrate superb attention to detail in every nut, bolt and knob.
- Uncompromising standards of design and execution.
- Deliver breathtaking performance.
- Highly collectible and rare.
- Small works of artistic and engineering perfection.
Another Youtube Tour of a Unitron scope at http://youtu.be/4C9OB9BYiXQ . Enjoy!
I have uploaded a couple of Unitron Video Tours. One is an overview of the 3 inch Unitron 145C. This scope is more properly called a “Frankentron” because it was assembled from various Unitron and shop-made components, like a sort of astronomical Frankenstein Monster. I included some nice closeup views of the beautiful setting circles. Please check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UU8zxAxss0 . The second tour is the 4 inch Unitron 160. There are more views of the spectacular Weight Driven Clock drive as well as a brief tour of the entire system. See this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4-EvkX7D1s. There is also an amusing time-lapse of the assembly of this telescope at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izGbmA_73jc .
I uploaded a video showing the operation of a classic Unitron Weight Driven Clock Drive. This 50 year old device allows a telescope to follow the very slow movement of stars and planets. The stellar motion is undetectable with the naked eye but in a telescope the movement is highly magnified so a tracking mechanism is very helpful. The device works strictly because of gravity, allowing the user to set up the telescope far from any source of electricity. It works much like a old fashioned Grandfather Clock. Like any old mechanical device, many find it fascinating to watch. Please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agC1aJMBLlA to see the video.
Unitron Weight Driven Clock Drive
Unitron Weight Drive at night
Unitron 3 inch scope with Weight Drive