Stellafane 'Little Man' - click for Stellafane Home Page Mirror Class Page Header

Stellafane 2005-06 Mirror Class


This class is over. To sign up for a Mirror Class, see the pink box on the Mirror Class Main Page.

Schedule & Class Pictures

Including brief notes about the session
Class Pictures
Click Image for Photo Album

1: Saturday, October 1, 2005:

  • 10:00 - 4:00: Workshop
  • 10:30 - 11:30: Class #1:
    Selecting Aperture & Focal Length
    Overview & Rough Grinding

A warm fall day, with rough grinding outside!

click photo for Session 1 Photo Album

2: Saturday, November 5, 2005:

  • 10:00 - 4:00: Workshop
  • 11:00 - Noon: Class #2: Fine Grinding

More outside grinding in mild fall weather.
Cody completed his mirror!

click photo for Session 2 Photo Album

3: Saturday, December 3, 2005:

  • 10:00 - 4:00: Workshop
  • 11:00 - Noon: Class #3: Polishing

Poured 5 Laps this session;
Polishing & Figuring well underway for many.

click photo for Session 3 Photo Album

4: Sunday, January 29, 2006:

  • 10:00 - 4:00: Workshop
  • 11:00 - Noon: Class #4: Figuring

2 Students in Final Figuring, 3 others polishing:
new mirrors close at hand!

click photo for Session 4 Photo Album

5: Saturday, February 18, 2006 in Ludlow, MA

  • 10:00 - 4:00: Workshop
  • 11:00 - Noon: Class #5: Testing

Two Mirrors Completed (See photo at right)!
-- Andy's 8' f/5.4
-- Glenn's 10" f/5.1

click photo for Session 5 Photo Album

6: Saturday, March 18, 2007:

  • 10:00 - 4:00: Workshop
  • 11:00 - 1:00: Class #6: Constructing a Telescope

Poured a 16" lap, with good progress made by all
on a bitter cold day.

click photo for Session 6 Photo Album

7: Saturday, April 27, 2006:

  • 10:00 - 4:00: Figuring Workshop

Two more Mirrors Completed!
Five done in this class.
And the grinding machine is working.

Click photo for Session 7 Photo Album

8: Saturday, May 20, 2006:

Informal session held during a club work day
with 4 students present. Erin Finished.

Click photo for session 8 Photo Album

Mirror Status

Here is a report on what our participants are making, and at what stage they are at.

Mirror Maker
*Club Member
Cody* 6 8.0 Fine 10/1
Glenn* 10 5,1 Done 2/18
Fran 12.5 Cass 3.94 Figure 4/29
8 5.94 Done 4/29
Jim* 8 6.0 Polish 11/5
Jerry 6 6.0 Polish
Sean 6 8.0 #220  
Janet 8 ? #80 3/18
Andy 8 5.4 Done 2/18
Darby 6 7.0 9┬Á -
Erin 4.25 3.5 Done 5/20
Dick* 8 Cass 5.0 New 11/5
Jim 16 4.5 Polish 3/18
Joyce 6 4.0 Figure 4/29
Cody 6 7.8 Done 11/5
Scott 8 8 Figure 4/29
Dave 8 6.25 Done 4/29
16 Mirror Makers 17 Mirrors 6 Done


Thanks to our large group of volunteer instructors, we can hold these mirror class and give everyone the individualized attention they require. Several of our instructors work professionally in the optics industry, and many have competed dozens or mirrors and more complicated optics as amateurs.

Full Members of the club have had to successfully made a mirror or other quality optical surface.

Instructor Jay Drew
Jay Drew
Associate Member
Eats #80 Grit for a Snack!
Instructor Junie Esslinger
Junie Esslinger
Full Member
Explaining a Polishing Stroke
Instructor Tom Gorka
Tom Gorka
Full Member
Making Mirror Kits
Instructor Rick Hunter
Rick Hunter
Full Member
Using the Foucault Tester
Instructor Dave Kelly
Dave Kelley
Full Member
Demonstrates Polishing Techniques
Instructor Phil Rounseville
Phil Rounseville
Full Member
Making Pitch Laps at the 2001 Convention
Instructor Ken Slater
Ken Slater
Mirror Course Leader, Full Member
Explaining Foucault Testing
Instructor Brad Vietje
Brad Vietje
Club President, Full Member
Explaining Telescope Construction

Final Report

2005-2006 was a good season for the mirror makers on Breezy Hill. With mild weather and a good workshop system devised by Ken Slater and Tom Gorka, we had an excellent turnout and some terrific mirrors were completed.

Registration again continued strong with a full slate of students. We enrolled 16 mirror makers with 10 returnees.

Attendance was on a par with years past. We didn't have any weather cancellations. Our lowest attendance was in the deepest winter months as usual. The February session held in Ludlow MA was again sparsely attended despite our efforts to talk it up. It is quite a way to travel during winter for the students in central Vermont. Still, the timing of the Ludlow meeting combined with the excellent working conditions have given it a reputation as a good weekend to complete a high quality mirror.

Attendance Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May
Students 10 13 7 6 5 8 8 4
Instructors 7 8 8 6 4 7 7 7

Students were quite varied and several were motivated to complete their figuring at home independently using zonal Foucault testing methods. Student talents were demonstrated by figuring skills, carpentry, and metal working. There is even a compound telescope in progress. This was a fun group who all worked together very well. Nine students came from VT, two from NH, four from MA, and one from NYC.

Instructors worked hard this year, especially the core working group of Ken Slater, Tom Gorka, and Dave Kelly. Phil Rounseville, Junie Esslinger, Wayne Hilliard, Rick Hunter, Jay Spiegel, and Brad Vietje all contributed significant time and talent to the class. Ken has taken on the monumental task of updating the Stellafane website and has passed class leader responsibilities on to Jay Drew, who promptly missed two class sessions. To all our instructors, thank you very much!

Completions added up well this year, with 7 mirrors done. Wayne, Dave and Fran all finished their mirrors at home to excellent standards using the classic zonal Foucault test. Dave Kelly again provided the patient expertise that walked students through the figuring process using the auto collimating null test. Jay Drew helped several students make progress with figuring using the Ross null test. Dave was able to add an extra bonus figuring session in May after mirror classes were "officially" completed, and we hope to continue to work during the off season with the students who are still figuring. Completed mirrors include Cody's 6" f7.8, Glenn's 10" f5.1, Andy's 8" f5.4, Wayne's 10" f5.6, Dave's 8" f6.25, Fran's 8" f6, and Erin's 4.25" f4.5.

Facilities were much less of an issue this year thanks to the hard work of Ken Slater, Tom Gorka, and Dave Prowten. The Bunkhouse, while certainly primitive, provides a good grinding and pitch lap pouring center while the new testing tunnel at the McGregor is a terrific resource for multiple mirror testing. Next year we hope to add some grinding space at the Bunkhouse thanks to Tom, who has cleaned out the back room. The incinerating toilets are again functioning, which should be a help with comfort and hygiene. The club now maintains a dumpster on site which simplifies our clean up. The "loaner" Foucault testers are a great resource for our students, although one of them is still missing from two years ago. Jay plans to contribute a Ross null tester to our equipment loan program. One item we still hope to implement is creating a video testing stand to go with the tunnel and autocollimator. We could also use sturdy mounts to handle testing of larger mirrors.

Future demand again is strong with a current list of interested new and returning mirror makers that should fill up next fall's mirror workshops. With so many mirrors completed this year, and with the expanded room at the Bunkhouse, Tom is requesting that we try and attract some more starting grinders. We will try and do some outreach to the local community to bring in a few more students beyond those already on the sign up list. Our club president has recommended that we include a "rustic facilities clause" to the mirror class info, letting students know of our rather primitive conditions that include an isolated location, dirt roads, and lack of the usual bathrooms and running water.

Summary It was another good year at Stellafane with amateur mirror making thriving on Breezy Hill, the place where it all began. The mirror class is a vibrant group of students and instructors. Several of the newest members of the Springfield Telescope Makers came to us through our mirror class, which continues to spread the core ATM knowledge while recruiting energetic new talent to the club. Special thanks from all of us to Ken Slater for his leadership during the last years of mirror class. See you in October!