90mm f5 Stowaway - The Story
Why did we make a 90mm refractor?
Several years ago, Roland experimented with a few 90mm refractor designs with the goal of producing a nice little guidescope for a Maksutov Newtonian project he was developing. Early on, we realized that our customers expect any scope that we produce to have a fine figure, be free of color error and be versatile enough to do most anything. So, the guidescope concept evolved from a doublet design (too much chromatic aberration) to a well-corrected fast triplet suited for guiding, astronomy, and nature observations.
Introducing the "Stowaway"
In 1996, Roland finished the first 90mm f5 Stowaway and showed it at several star parties. Sue and Alan French purchased that scope in 1997 and have been using it extensively ever since. In fact, the name "Stowaway" was Alanís inspiration. This scope is so compact that it can hide in your luggage when it wants to go along on an exciting trip to faraway places. Since the Frenchs attend many local and national astronomy conventions, many people had a chance to see this little gem. By the way, Sue authors the monthly column entitled "small-scope sampler" in Sky & Telescope magazine. Her style is both entertaining and very informative. Be sure to check it out.
Small production run and "lucky duckies"
Over the years, we collected quite a few names of people who had heard about the 90 and wanted to be notified when they were available.We maintained a database with those names. The Stowaway was never advertised or mentioned in our brochure.
In June 1999, we finished up a small production run of Stowaways. Some of them were allocated to our dealers, so some of the scopes were shipped overseas. The remainder were designated for the the U.S market based on our notification list. Unfortunately, there were 5 times as many people on this list as scopes. Two of the people were promised a scope from the beginning so we honored that commitment. For the remainder, we decided to put all of the names into a box and drew them randomly. We referred to the people selected as "lucky duckies." It was truly a matter of luck.
Half of the names drawn were people who had NEVER ordered anything from us previously and we did not know them. It is true that the remainder of the people in the group already have Astro-Physics scopes, however it is important to note that we did not show favoritism in the selection process.
Isnít it a bit larger and faster than 90mm f5?
Yes, it is really 92.5mm f4.9, however that is much more difficult to say and we have always refered to as "the 90." Just consider the extra 2mm a bonus.
We do not have any plans to produce this scope in the future.
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This page was last modified: November 15, 2004