Gregory Gross

Afterword and Acknowledgements

Seeing that bits and pieces of the Questar story were scattered widely across the internet, I undertook this project in July 2019 mainly as an effort to corral all of the interesting accounts that countless individuals had shared with the Questar enthusiast community over the years. After I became active on the Questar forum on Cloudy Nights, I began to explore what others before me had written. I discovered other discussion groups including the Questar Users Group, which began as an email list in 1996 and which currently resides at Groups.io. It became clear to me that a deep well was available to draw from. The more I dug, the more fascinated I became. It was soon obvious to me that an effort to draw together all of that insight and to bring some additional, previously uncovered content to the surface would yield many benefits. I realized I had the opportunity not only to enrich our knowledge of Questar history but also to recognize the contributions that others have made before me.

I am the beneficiary of a huge amount of source material that is readily accessible online or available in books and magazines. In a certain respect, I have always seen this project as the outgrowth of a community of Questar aficionados and myself as someone who was merely drawing together all of that collective wisdom.

Since Questar’s recordkeeping especially during the company’s early years is not entirely complete, drawing a precise and exhaustive picture of the company’s history may never be possible. But enough information exists for an interesting story to be told nonetheless.

What resulted from my efforts was a “scrapbook” of sorts whose basic structure emerged from the documentary evidence: personal accounts by those who witnessed Questar’s history themselves, marketing literature, advertising, and other documents. A variety of secondary sources also helped define that structure.

With a careful eye towards sticking to the facts and uncovering the truth, I put a high degree of emphasis on evaluating credibility. I also took the opportunity to point out flaws in our collective knowledge where necessary. My own account is not exempt from this high standard: if you should discover the need for additions or corrections, or if you have answers to any remaining open questions, I would be delighted to hear from you.

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When I began this project in the summer of 2019, I set out to uncover the history of a telescope. But before long, I realized that the truly compelling story was the one about the individuals behind it. It became obvious to me that the human dimension of the Questar telescope was far more captivating than the thing itself.

As I worked to uncover the stories about the persons who had a role in the history of Questar, my project also brought me into contact with numerous individuals whom I would never have met otherwise. Indeed, one of the greatest sources of satisfaction I got from this project was also one of the most unexpected ones: the connections and friendships I gained along the way.

In October 2019, Stewart Squires received an email message from an overeager Questar enthusiast who had come across his name on numerous occasions and who learned that he was quite active on Cloudy Nights discussion forums. He responded with an uncommon generosity that revealed his nature as a true gentleman in every sense of the word. Stew and I traded countless messages over the proceeding months on a huge variety of topics. Time and again, he shared his deep knowledge and perspective with me. As my writing progressed, he was there to prod me along at every step of the way. Saving me from embarrassing mistakes, offering constructive criticism, and giving me encouragement right at those times when a hobby pursuit started feeling more like a burden, Stew became an indispensable friend. My writing would have been far duller without him.

Taking significant amounts of time away from his work running Questar in New Hope, Jim Perkins provided me with invaluable information that I would have had absolutely no hope finding anywhere else. On countless occasions when I was hung up on a difficult problem, he dug into his company’s archive and even climbed into its attic—thank goodness Questar never throws anything out—to locate documentation and other hard evidence that unambiguously answered numerous longstanding problems or misunderstandings. His first-hand recollections of several episodes that played out during his years at Questar underpinned much of my writing. I am particularly grateful that he shared his memories about the fascinating, highly skilled persons who quietly but proudly contributed their part to Questar Corporation and made it a success. A telling of their story was particularly overdue.

Jim Reichert and Ursel Sigman both took my phone calls and answered questions that occurred to me when I found myself wringing my hands over various Questar-related minutiae. Fielding inquires like they do with a sincere interest in helping an unseen person on the other end of the line is not an easy task. They and all the other fine individuals who work at Questar deserve our respect and thanks.

We in the amateur astronomy community are fortunate to have someone like Rodger Gordon. In August 2020, I contacted his son, who connected me with his father. After a few initial phone calls, Rodger wrote me an incredibly detailed handwritten letter, a practice that is all but dead in this age of electronic communication. Going into exhaustive detail on a myriad of topics, he gave me a level of insight that made my writing far stronger. He shared details about his personal contact with many key players in Questar’s history, and I hope that my writing does justice to his memories of them.

Before I became a Questar owner, when I doubted what an obstructed 3.5-inch aperture could really do, Ben Langlotz offered valuable assistance to me. When I finally invested in one that had several problems, Ben patiently talked me through how to get to a solution for each one. As the idea dawned upon me that the time had come for serious research into the history of Questar, Ben helped me get my bearings during the earliest phases of my project. And as my project unfolded, Ben was a reliable friend along the way. He offered particularly useful editing help shortly before I opened my research to the community at large.

A consummate Questar collector, Ralph Foss scanned every scrap of Questar-related paper he had access to and distributed PDF copies of them to the community. He also shared his knowledge of the history of the company and its telescopes in several writeups that I referred to as I began to organize my working outline. Along with his scanning work, his “Questar Timeline” and his incredibly detailed spreadsheet containing Questar’s pricing history all played a vital role. Foss’s work pointed me to particularly useful online forum discussions that would have been far more difficult for me to find on my own.

Like many others, I found myself being drawn into an affinity for Questar telescopes as a result of seeing the company’s magazine advertisements. Although I was never a subscriber to those publications when the company was actively promoting itself in them, I benefited from several individuals who helped me build a personal collection of back issues for Sky and Telescope, Natural History, Scientific American, Astronomy, and other magazines or who gave me access to them. With respect for their privacy, I refer to them here by their initials: RB, DB, DO, DO, and MB.

The community of Questar enthusiasts is small but supportive and congenial in a way that one does not often find among other groups of collectors. Numerous individuals who are active on Cloudy Nights and the Questar Users Group shared their knowledge about Questar telescopes or about particular examples they own, endured annoying inquiries from me about Questars they were simply trying to sell, or were otherwise generous members of a remarkable community. My sincere appreciation goes to all of them.

Most importantly, my wife Susan gave me the kind of support that only a loving spouse can provide. She patiently granted me all the hours of solitude that I sought as I stared endlessly into a computer screen and typed away, she listened as I gushed about how wonderful and fascinating Questar telescopes are, and she understood and supported me on those occasions that required loosening our purse strings a bit to support my hobby.