Saint Petersburg Astronomy Club - Mirror Lab


Science Center of Pinellas
7701 22nd Ave N
Saint Petersburg, FL 33710

We're available from 12 Noon to 4PM each Saturday

Our Founder

Paul McNabb founded the mirror lab in 1997 in order to create the best amateur telecopes possible. Inch for inch our mirrors surpass store bought or commercial grade scopes.

04/12/2012 more


  • Ralph Craig - Lab Instructor
  • Allen Maroney - Lab Instructor
  • Ron Jones - The Figurer
  • Mike Davis - Casts Mirrors
  • Dimitri - Support


  • James Lerch - Robo Foucault
  • Matt Terry
  • Charlie Mullen
  • Bruce Kazcmarik
  • Keevy McAlavy

In Memorium

  • Irv Nadelhaft
  • Lenny Remetta

04/12/2012 more


Where the 19th Century Art of Mirror Making Meets the 21st Century

The Saint Petersburg Mirror Lab is a small band of dedicated mirror grinders and telescope makers living in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. We offer a mirror making class for interested persons. We strive to create the best mirrors our home brew technology can muster. This includes robotic foucault testing and laser interferometry.

  Joey and Brent Hilker join the ATM community
Joey and Brent are a few hours into grinding a 10 inch mirror here. They have perfected the
teamwork to keep the grit crunching sound at the optimal levels.

  Paul tuning up the Meade 16 inch focuser
Paul really got into this project. He stopped the trunnions from slipping on the tube and fixed the
focuser. Clearwater Fundamental Middle School has a monster telescope ready for the sky now.

  George Fatolitis cleaning 16 inch Meade mirror
George brought in a Meade 16inch Dobsonian telescope from Clearwater Fundamental Middle School. The
mirror was coated with dust and the mechanics of the telescope need a bit of work. After a couple
hours of work it all came together and George left with a beautiful telescope for sharing he night
sky with the kids.

  Ralph, Tom and Mike polishing mirrors
We had three polishers (two figuring), two grinders and repaired a 16inch Meade Dob for a local
Middle School this week. It was busy at the Mirror lab!

  Brad finishes his 8 inch mirror!
Brad finished his 8 inch mirror Saturday. It is extremely well polished and has a one seventh wave
figure with beautiful edge. Congratulations Brad!

  Eighty-five pound pitch lap press
Sometimes the pitch lap needs a little help getting back into a shape that matches the mirror. The
mesh makes nice micro channels. After removing the weights and mesh we usually press again for a
few minutes flatten out any pitch lifting caused by removing the mesh. We also like to keep the
polishing room between 80 and 82 degrees F.

  Tom nears final figuring
Tom is in the final stages of polishing. His 8 inch mirror has a slight (~200nm) turned down edge
and mirror on top with a short center over center stroke will correct that quickly.

  Mike with his 12.5 inch light weight mirror
This shows the light weight 12.5 inch mirror batter. Mike cast the mirror and has been perfecting
the honey comb pattern.

  Mike polishing a 12.5 inch wih a light weight sub-diameter tool
The light weight tool is needed to prevent uneven polishing where the glass is hollowed out on the
back and the surface is thinner.

  Zerodur mirror finished for a lab scope
Ralph (left) and Allen finished a 12 inch Zerodur mirror. This f4.4 mirror will stay with us at the
lab as a demo scope and for public viewing nights. It came in at 1/7th wave and is very smooth and
well polished.

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