SDM#099 – 18″ f/4

Owner: Stefan Zietara, Dubai U.A.E.
Primary: 18” f/4 made by Mike Lockwood
Secondary: 1/30 wave Antares
ServoCAT, Nexus and SIPS
Known as: Zeus

My giant telescope is called “Zeus” after the Ancient Greek God of the Sky who was also the Greek mythological God of the Gods. A powerful and mighty character who controlled the weather and threw Thunderbolts to command authority.

Closer to home, my late father, Zenon Zietara, was in the resistance movement in the forests of central Poland during WWII.  His pseudonym (handle) as head of his division was “Zeus”.

The naming of this instrument is a tribute to ancient astronomical folklore and to honour my father who adored the science of Astronomy but never got a chance to glance through a telescope.


Stefan Zietara

First Light: …“Rolled out the kit to the front of the house which is surrounded by street lights, so not the best place to observe at the best of times. Quarter moon way up high too! Checked collimation which was bang on from earlier this morning. Happy chap J. Switched on the fans and left it be for about an hour by which time a crowd had gather to see what the rocket launcher was aiming at!

Two star alignment was done this time by manually moving the scope between objects. Had to choose “Dubhe” and “Regulus” as nothing else visible the right distance & angle apart. Achieved a more accurate alignment this time. Locked the axis and connected the iPhone. Bang on!

First slew was to Jupiter which it nailed. Happy Chap J! Image wasn’t bad but got better through the night. Jovian moons crisp points of light, 2 either side of the planet. Didn’t filter this evening as I wanted to simply play with the scope. Could just make out some interesting festoon patterns in the Northern Hemisphere banding. Have to keep promoting the Northern views as much as I can J. Moved to the moon. Medium power EP so had to move the view close to the terminator to make it more interesting. Nearly fell backwards with shock. Never have I seen the moon quite like this!

It was full of detail and fabulous contrast. I stopped down on the EP and the image went into 4K!  Highest definition I’ve experienced in any scope, refractor included. Mega Happy Chap!! Wow!

Just kept flicking between the moon and Jupiter until the mirror fully settled. Switched off the fans after about 2 hrs.

Mars popped up and was as bad as expected. Move on.  Will wait for a higher up view with a filter another day. No worries.

Neighbours loved the views of the Moon and Jupiter and wanted to know the story behind the scope. First seed planted J. As the crowd dispersed and I got a bit more Zeus time for myself, I tried a few deep sky objects which were almost impossible because of the near full moon.

Nevertheless, “M5” literally made me step backwards with amazement. I’ve never in my life managed to resolve a globular to the core. Not only that, but I could discern different brightness levels of the core stars!!! All of this in rubbish light polluted skies with street lights above my head. !!  Beyond belief! I stayed there for quite some time. Sadly M13 was behind a tree!

Checked a few stars such as “Spica” & “Arcturus” which gave some nice colour and diffraction spikes which I’d never seen before having only ever used an SCT and refractor in the past. Nice contrast against the background sky.

Few more trips between the 2 planets before packing up around 11pm realising that I’d not eaten anything since breakfast! I was so absorbed in the experience and time setting up the scope during the day. . Happy Chap! I was struck by the accuracy of the slew. It simply went straight to it. No messing!  It’s practically inaudible when tracking too.

The scope makes a nice reassuring sound as it slews. I also tried the 3 button stop function which halted it on the nail! Worth remembering just in case.

It was a fabulous start and it felt very natural and easy to use.

Despite the scopes size in the house, when placed outside it didn’t feel that big at all. Perhaps I should have gone for the bigger one? J

The Moon and “M5” views will stay with me as the crowning moment of my journey into Big Dob World.  Fabulous sights! A spectacular indication of amazing things to come.

Peter has built an exquisite telescope. It exceeds my wildest expectations. Optics aside, the build quality, use of premium components and the attention to detail makes this instrument a beautiful thing to behold. It’s the work of a true craftsman who is undoubtedly the best Big Dob builder in the World today.

I‘m extremely fortunate and proud to say that I own an SDM telescope. I’m even more fortunate to say that I’ve met Peter, a true gentleman, who’s passion for his craft, his continuous desire to improve his product, his relentless attention to detail and his wonderful effortless communication throughout the build has made my journey into Big Dob World a First Class experience.

Thank You Mr Read.”

Stefan J Zietara

Dubai – May 2016