By Stephen F Tonkin
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In a nutshell, the point of baffling is to ensure that only light which has fallen directly on the primary mirror makes its way to the image plane. To accomplish this, stray light must be suppressed or, better, completely eliminated. Quite often, the only baffling done consists of a coat of matt-black paint applied to the inside of the tube. Although this is a good start, substantially better results are possible with only a slightly greater effort. Some telescope makers take their lead from the refractor telescope and install a number of concentric ring baffles spaced along the inside of the tube.
Most telescope makers I know are on some kind of quest. They shape glass, trace rays, and formulate equations, all in search of an optical ideal that might never achieve solid form. For me, the "quest" is for the ultimate planetary instrument. As an observer, I find few sights as thrilling as Jupiter or Mars, resplendent with the kind of detail that can only be glimpsed when telescope and atmosphere are equal in perfection. While there is little a telescope maker can do to ensure atmospheric steadiness, there is something that can be done to ensure telescopic perfection.
What other design offers such tremendous potential for obtaining optical perfection without a fully equipped optics lab? A Newtonian reflector it was to be. Having settled on the Newtonian design, it was time to narrow the choice further and decide upon the aperture. It is my belief that satisfactory planetary resolution begins with a 6 in (15 cm) objective. Although a great deal can be seen with smaller scopes, years at the eyepiece have convinced me that a 6 in represents the threshold at which planets begin to reveal their most delicate details.
Amateur telescope making by Stephen F Tonkin