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updated: 9/26/2013 8:35 AM

Pearl City man collects telescopes

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  • Telescope collector John Allseits inspects part of the wheel of his 1950 German equatorial refractor telescope housed in a building at his farm.

      Telescope collector John Allseits inspects part of the wheel of his 1950 German equatorial refractor telescope housed in a building at his farm.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

PEARL CITY -- John Allseits of Pearl City said his passion to collect telescopes began when he was a teenager growing up in Chicago. The soft-spoken man said he used to build telescopes back then, long before he became an antique collector and founding member of the Antique Telescope Society.

When Allseits moved his wife, Lisa, and son, Patrick, to Pearl City, he also bought a farm south of the village. His dream is to build his own observatory. He calls it Mount Jennings Observatory, after a fictional statement made in the 1939 movie called "War of the Worlds."

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"There is nothing fictional about the name of my observatory. It may be in the working stages, but I already have a museum of telescopes in storage and two domes already moved to the property," Allseits said. "I'm really passionate about this. I am doing it for the public.

"Kids get jaded by computers today, but I want to create something that has an impact of putting the eye to a monstrous machine that creates magic from the sky. It can only be done by the naked eye."

While Allseits' dream is lofty, it did catch the attention of astronomy educators from Ohio University in Athens. Tuesday, two officials from the university spent the day measuring an antique 1950 German equatorial refractor telescope that Allseits has had in storage since 2005. Mike Myers, mechanical systems technician from the university, spent the heat of the day collecting data and measuring parts of the telescope. The university has a sister telescope in need of restoration. Myers said there were only six telescopes made like the one Allseits has. One is at Harvard, one at Ohio University and the other three are unaccounted for.

"We lost our pieces to our telescope in November 2012 when a fire ripped through the building, which resulted in key parts to the telescope being thrown out," Myers said.

"We had been searching for a sister scope and found out about John's through the Antique Telescope Society. What I am getting out of all our data and measurements excites me to know we can re-create our telescope to make it functional.

Seeing what I see with John's gives me hope to get ours running. Without the measurements I am getting, it would be impossible to re-create the pattern. No blueprint exists anymore for this type of 10-inch telescope."

Allseits said his passion to create a local museum is about offering something to the public they can only get through the naked eye. He said he has no idea how many antique telescopes he has in his collection, but adds research telescopes that exist today are computer generated. Few exist that allow the public a viewing by the naked eye.

"I am building my observatory for the public, but to also bring back the kid in me," Allseits said. "Having the guys come to me from Ohio University vindicates the dummy in me that will need to build a $250,000 building to house my telescope and make it operational. They see the value in what I am trying to create. My collection is too big not to create a museum."

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