Saint Petersburg Astronomy Club - Mirror Lab


We are looking for a new home
As soon as we have the new location set we will post the location and hours here.

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.

  Laser Interferometer goes online

  Radio Telescope ’sees’ first light.

  Mars Closest Approach in 60000 years
Mars Closest Approach in 60000 years

On the night of Tuesday August
26th Mars made its closest approach to the Earth in over 60000 years. Mars was only 34,646,418
miles from Earth at 5:51am EDT (early Wednesday morning).

On the night of closest approach. Picture imaged with a cheap $20 camera held up to the

Location Time
August 16
Gulfport Casino 10pm -1am
August 22
Science Center 9:30pm -1am
August 26
Science Center 9:30pm -1am
August 29
Gulfport Casino 9pm -1am
August 30
Science Center 9pm -1am
September 5
Gulfport Casino 9pm -1am
September 6
Science Center 9pm -1am
20 Saturday
Gulfport ArtWalk 8:30pm
September 26 Friday Science Center 8:00pm

  New Image Database Available

  Total Lunar Eclipse
Several Members of the lab were interviewed by local tv channels 10 and 13 during the total lunar

  Our Aluminizing Chamber is Demonstrated to the Public
James Lerch does a demostration of the new aluminizing chamber during a meeting of the Saint
Petersburg Astronomy Club. The meeting was held at the Science Center of Pinellas County. A short
video of the event is available.

  Public Viewing the Night of October 12th 2002

This is the 10 inch rafflescope during collimation
the afternoon before the public observing.

Oct 12, 2002 Pinellas County Science
Members of the St Petersburg Astronomy Club converge for the first public viewing of
the 2002-2003 observing season.

The club's optics lab performed the first star-testing of
the just completed 10inch rafflescope.

size=+1>CLICK HERE for more information about the

Paul and Pat admire Ralph's daughter Casey's 6" f 4.5 "Blue Star" scope.

The weather was
hot, humid and cloudy (but at least we could see the first quarter moon). About fifty people
attended this event with many recently built telescopes shown off by club members.

A 3 inch f6 built by Tom. It looks like a nice scale model of a truss telescope but it actually

Tom's other (full size) telescope.

  A 10 inch mirror goes from a blank to aluminized in a week!
Due to an unfortunate event the 10 inch mirror for the 2003 rafflescope was ruined. James Lerch and
Paul Kristle worked around the clock in shifts to regrind and polish a 10 inch mirror from scatch to

  Our Vacuum Aluminizing chamber comes online
Build from parts scavanged on ebay James Lerch has created a vacuum chamber that will coat
(aluminize) mirrors upto 10 inches in diameter. Positioning the heating elements to ensure an even
coat was one of the difficult parts.

  We snap pictures of asteroid 2002 NY40
Asteroid 2002
NY40 flew past Earth early in the morning on August 17th. It flew by at a distance of 530,000
kilometers or roughly 1.3 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. NY40 is approximately 800
meters wide and appeared near the bright star Vega. James Lerch took the images.

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