Report from Stephen Hovell, Kaitaia, North Island, New Zealand
Proud owner of “KORORIA”
28″ f/3.3 SDM#062 with Mike Lockwood optics.
I had been waiting for a long time when Kororia finally arrived in New Zealand. After paying Customs and GST I was told that they could not guarantee delivery until Monday, 27th March but Pete was arriving on Saturday 25th. So I decided to drive the 700km return journey myself and bring Kororia back on a trailer. The men loaded the huge box (2.4 x 1.2 x 1.2m and weighing around 600kg) onto the trailer then I made my way very carefully homewards. Some of our Northland roads are pretty windy and I didn’t want the precious contents strewn over the road. So it was a slow trip home. I had frequent stops to left other drivers past.
Pete and his 90 year old Uncle Merv arrived on the morning of Saturday 25th. The big box was waiting on the trailer up at my observatory, Pukemaru Observatory. The observatory is 4.8m wide, 7.2m long with a slide-off roof that comes 2/3 of the way off. I also have fold-down walls on three sides. Peter designed my telescope so it could see over the walls when they were folded down. In fact I can get down to within 7° of the horizon with half of the mirror (half of 28” is 14” and that’s still pretty good) although I tend not to look so low.
We had to get my neighbour, Brian, to come over to help set it up. A 28” mirror is rather heavy. Pete had made sure that the rocker box and mirror box would fit through the door. It was close but we made it. It took a while to set up as one would expect with such a quality instrument. But when it was completed it was very IMPRESSIVE to say the least – way bigger than I expected. It is a work of art to look at and a work of art to look through.
As I write this, it is two weeks since I have had Kororia and I still haven’t had decent night. I spend my time viewing variable stars rather than deep sky objects. I have been able to do some viewing between the clouds and have managed to glimpse stars as faint as mag 17.3. That is well beyond my expectations. The optics are fantastic, the alignment is as perfect as one can get, and the handling is superb. I have looked at a few deep sky objects including Omega Centauri, 47 Tucanae, the Jewel Box, and the Tarantula Nebula. I used a high power eyepiece and zoomed right in on the Tarantula and the detail is exquisite.
I use Nagler eyepieces – 31mm, 20mm, 13mm, 9mm and 7mm. Pete suggested I wouldn’t be able to use the 7mm (400x) very often, but in making observations of variables I find myself using the 7mm most of the time. One night I put the 9mm into the a Televue 2.5x Powermate – equivalent to a 3.6mm eyepiece, close to 800x and Jupiter and Saturn looked great. Note, this was not even in great seeing conditions. I will probably get a 3.5mm Nagler….. Roll on the fine weather!
By the way, ‘Kororia’ is a Maori word that translates to “Glory”. It comes from the Bible – Psalm 91:1 “E korerotia ana e nga rangi te kororia o the Atua.” or in English, “The heavens declare the glory of God.”
I have used several superlatives in writing this report. That is how I feel about Kororia. I am thrilled that I went the SDM way. The BEST! Pete has done an incredible job in building this telescope – tailored to my specific needs – and I will be forever grateful.
Stephen Hovell, N.Z. (April 2017)