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.

  Brent and Joey finished their 10 inch mirror
Brent and Joey proudly display their amazingly well polished 10" f/5 mirror. it came in better than
1/6th wave with a Strehl of .93. Congratulations!

  Dimitri building a dew heater controller
Dimitri (right), with a little help from Paul, built a dual channel dew heater controller at the lab
today. We should have seven of these keeping our telescopes dew free within a couple of weeks.

  Clean SkyGlow filter
This SkyGlow filter was turning into a mold growing machine. A little 91% Isopropyl Alcohol and a
few cotton balls cleaned it up beautifully. This same approach has worked well on eyepieces in
pretty bad shape. If the optics are bad use distilled water first to get any grit off. Always pat
with the cotton ball, don't wipe unless there is no choice. Wiping may scratch the optics. Do not
use Alcohol on coated corrector plates or bad things happen (really, I know). Distilled water and
cotton balls has worked for us.

  Tom Spano's Newton Telescope Replica
Tom did a beautiful job building this working replica of the original Newtonian telescope.

  Unusual Press
This lap is ready to start it's press. The parchment paper on the lay is used to prevent adding
more correction to the center of the mirror during figuring. The shape helps feather out he contact

  Dew heater test circuit
This is the low voltage cutoff test of the new lab dew heater circuit. It has dual controls and
will cut off power to the heaters at and below 10v to save the battery. It uses a programmed PIC
16F88 microcontroller as the brains.

  Distorted pitch pattern
The distorted pitch lap pattern was caused by the BVC mirror sticking to the lap after the pour.
When we finally separated them this was the result.

  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.

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