All it took for Herrie ten Oever to be able to see 100 million light years into the deep dark reaches of space was some wood, steel and a lot of patience.
Herrie started his journey in creating a Newtonian Dobsonian telescope five years ago.
Astronomy is a passion that started as a child in his native Holland but grew momentum when he arrived in New Zealand 15 years ago.
“I’ve always been intrigued by the stars … there is just so much out there.”
Herrie is a loyal member of the Nelson Astronomy Club and started out with a 16mm telescope from a second-hand store.
“I really liked it but it was too small.”
So Herrie got a bigger telescope. A friend of his was attempting to build a Dobsonian telescope but soon put it on the market.
Herrie saw an opportunity.
Armed with an instruction booklet, Herrie set about constructing his pride and joy that now sits in the middle of his dining room in Stoke.
The telescope’s design allows it to see faint deep sky objects such as nebulae and galaxies. It can easily be tilted and moved around. It also has a 40mm glass mirror that allows as much light in as possible.
When it was finally completed Herrie was relieved and rewarded himself by looking at the individual rings of Saturn, the detailed craters of the moon, and the thousands of stars that make up the Matariki cluster.
“There is so much stuff to look at, like other galaxies that are 100 million light years away.”
He says that astronomy is a fantastic hobby and a great way to explore the universe as well as one’s own construction skills.
Herrie says he builds and sells saunas for a living but the telescope was a totally different undertaking.
“It’s not easy to make something like this,” he says. “But it’s amazing what you can do with a bit of wood and steel.”
However, he is not done just yet. Herrie’s next mission is to hook his creation up to the digital world.
This will allow him to find a constellation on an app on his phone and match it up with what the telescope is looking at.
Then he will truly be looking at whatever stars he likes.