BIG RED! She's got a ten inch mirror, and she's been signed by John Dobson himself! She's about all the scope that one average size guy in an average size car with an average size astronomy budget would care to own.... I acquired mine in 1989 (see image of scope at OSP '89 on Steens Mountain). My supplier for the scope was a purist old-fashioned "Dob" company called Coulter Optical (see image below). In the history of modern astronomy, the founder of Coulter, James Braginton of Idyllwild, California, was a pioneer who looms very large. He was first to design/market affordable "light bucket" types of scopes, thus making astronomy so much more accessible to all of us. Big Red is a member of Coulter's "Odyssey" line, which was marketed from about 1980 to 1995.... Mr. Braginton was directly inspired by his friend John Dobson's original San Francisco street designs-- plate glass mirrors, press-board rocker box, and indestructible, dirt-cheap cardboard tubes. Leave 'em set up all night in the worst part of town, and don't worry about them drawing thieves! Click here for a story about my "Midnight Encounter with John Dobson."
John Dobson himself signed mine at the Table Mountain Star Party in 1993. Only thing was, the truth was that I had sold Big Red to my friend Brian that year and he had taken it to TMSP. Table Mountain is the Northwest's largest annual Star Party, usually drawing around 1,000 participants at its 6,200 ft. high site just north of Ellensberg, WA. As you can see below, the limiting magnitude of such a scope is 15.0, quite respectable and capable of bringing in those "dim fuzzies." The strange items attached to the rear of Big Red are rocks and balls, really. The striped rock helps counterbalance the top-heavy scope, and the two round lead weights were needed once I switched to a two-inch focuser and some heavy Naglers. Yeah, I can see the joke coming, "Does your scope have balls?" I swear, it wasn't intentional. 2014 UPDATE: RIP John L. Dobson, 1915-2014: sadly, John Dobson passed away this year. Guy Pirro posted in AstroMart: "...John Dobson, the self-taught stargazer who designed the powerful, inexpensive Dobsonian telescope, died January 15, 2014 at a hospital in Burbank, California. He was 98."