§ 1.1. Formative Years
Gregory Gross

§ 1.1. Formative Years

On This Page

  1. Childhood and Early Adulthood
  2. The Artist: Braymer’s Education and Early Career as a Commercial Illustrator
  3. The Tinkering Astronomer: Braymer and the ATM Movement
  4. The Entrepreneur: Braymer’s Contact with Telescope Suppliers During World War II
  5. The Innovator: Braymer and the Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope

In his profile of Questar that appeared in the New Hope Gazette on March 14, 1985, journalist Charles Shaw wrote that Lawrence Braymer was an individual whose interests included a unique combination of art, craftsmanship, and science. During his early years, he earned his living creating commercial illustrations, portraits, and figure studies. But Braymer was most passionately drawn to science and scientific instrumentation. “He was especially interested in optics,” his wife Marguerite told Shaw.[1]

The roots of the Questar telescope and the company that produced it lie in the early biography of the man who created them. Lawrence Braymer’s experience as a child and young adult shaped the direction that he took later in his life.

Childhood and Early Adulthood

Lawrence Ernest Braymer was born in Chicago in 1901 to Ernest S. Braymer, also a Chicago native who was born in 1873 and who died in 1934, and Luella G. Braymer (née Lively), who was born outside of St. Louis in St. Clair, Illinois, in 1881 and who died in 1955.[2] Lawrence had one sister, Marjorie Elizabeth Braymer, who was born in 1911.[3]

Lawrence was able to trace the history of his family at least as far back as his Hessian ancestors who lived during the American Revolution.[4] His father’s middle initial stood for Story, the maiden name of Lawrence’s grandmother and one of the families behind Story & Clark,[5] the successful makers of pianos and organs whose roots lie in a music store that Hampton L. Story opened in Vermont in 1859 and whose name continues to appear on pianos being produced today.[6] The household in which Lawrence and his sister grew up was wealthy enough to have had a servant.[7]

After attending the newly-built Nicholas Senn High School,[8] which opened in 1913 and is still standing on the North Side of Chicago,[9] Lawrence volunteered for service during World War I. He was a member of the Red Cross Ambulance Corps, first stationed at Camp Scott in Chicago and later at Neufchâteau in northeastern France.[10] As a member of that ambulance corps, Braymer held the rank of First Sergeant in the Electrical Division.[11] Serving overseas before he reached the age of nineteen,[12] Braymer’s assignments perhaps helped spark his interest in tinkering.

In a wider sense, his comfortable upper middle-class background and the vigorously youthful daring that compelled him to volunteer for service during the First World War both suggest that Lawrence would have begun to cultivate a tenacious and adventurous entrepreneurialism in environments that would have encouraged such qualities.

The Artist: Braymer’s Education and Early Career as a Commercial Illustrator

After returning to the United States upon conclusion of his service overseas, Lawrence enrolled at Northwestern University, where his father had attended college. There, he was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and he worked as the art editor of its magazine, Ye Omega Sig. But instead of graduating from Northwestern, he moved on around 1921. He continued his education at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the Audubon Tyler School of Art, where he studied painting under John Audubon Tyler. Beyond his formal education, Braymer was also a member of the Palette and Chisel Club of Chicago, and he became its recording secretary in 1923.[13] Later known as the Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art, the organization was founded primarily by evening students at the Chicago Art Institute in 1895. It is currently the second oldest artist organization in the United States.[14]

Looking to begin his career as a professional artist after he moved to California with his family, Braymer first tried to land work by using personal connections with Walt Disney, whose early years bore a striking resemblance to his own: both shared the same birth year, both had served in the Red Cross during World War I, and both had been a student at the Art Institute of Chicago. But Braymer was not successful in gaining employment with Disney. In 1924, he moved to Philadelphia, where he picked up work as a freelance artist with N.W. Ayer & Son, a prominent advertising agency famous for coining a number of slogans for its clients that are remembered even today. In 1929, Braymer moved to Bucks County north of Philadelphia.[15] For the next quarter-century, Braymer worked in the region as a successful commercial illustrator and portrait artist.[16]

The Tinkering Astronomer: Braymer and the ATM Movement

In the 1920s, Lawrence Braymer pursued his education and established himself as a professional artist. He also cultivated other personal interests. By 1930, Braymer counted himself as a serious amateur astronomer.[17] Although his comfortable upper middle-class upbringing meant that he likely had ample resources to indulge in building his own optical equipment even at a relatively early age, those resources were probably not ample enough for him to purchase a commercially-built telescope. Indeed, the amateur telescope maker (ATM) movement arose as a direct response to the expense of such instruments, and Braymer ensconced himself as a thoroughgoing ATMer during his youth.

The Emergence of the ATM Movement

Prior to about 1910 or 1920, as historian Gary Leonard Cameron writes in his Public Skies: Telescopes and the Popularization of Astronomy in the Twentieth Century, only well-heeled amateurs could afford to participate in astronomy as a hobby. Commercial telescope manufacturers demanded a high premium for their hand-built instruments, and few were willing to attempt building their own.[18]

Albert Ingalls and Russell Porter at the Stellafane Convention, circa late 1920s
Albert Ingalls (left) and Russell Porter at the Stellafane Convention, circa late 1920s. researchgate.net

Attitudes began to change with the appearance of Russell Porter’s seminal article entitled “The Poor Man’s Telescope,” which appeared in the November 1921 issue of Popular Astronomy. The new amateur telescope makers movement gained steam in 1925, when Porter met Albert G. Ingalls, an editor who had arrived at Scientific American magazine earlier that year. He remained there until 1955. “From the first articles that Porter wrote for Scientific American,” Cameron writes, “amateur telescope making as a mass hobby erupted almost overnight. Porter’s talents as a largely self-taught optician, coupled with his innate talents as a visual and literary communicator, provided the first widely available and detailed instructions on how to make a reflecting telescope in 1926.” Partnering with Ingalls, who also had an interest in astronomy and who made sure a column on telescope making would continue to appear in Scientific American into the 1950s, Porter helped stoke an enduring movement of individuals who entered the hobby by building instruments for themselves. “Suddenly, hundreds, then thousands, of new amateur astronomers across the United States began making their own reflecting telescopes.” And with the onset of the Great Depression, many who could not find work could use their new-found opportunity, however happily they enjoyed that surplus time without employment, to engage in hobbies. For tinkers in particular, astronomy served as one such outlet.[19]

Braymer’s Participation in the ATM Movement

Lawrence Braymer joined the ranks of other amateur telescope makers. Similar to Porter, he demonstrated an interest in writing and illustrating, and he also had a strong ability to teach himself skills in optics. Perhaps during times between professional illustrating engagements, which may have become less and less available to him as the depression deepened, Braymer surely continued to tinker as an amateur astronomer and telescope maker.

Russell Porter and Albert Ingalls

Braymer offered perhaps the most compelling evidence for his participation in the ATM movement when he mentioned the work of Porter and Ingalls in his promotional writing for Questar. In his 1954 Questar booklet, Braymer described how rewarding it was for him to show his telescope “to the old-timers, the real optical experts, and feel their pleasure. Mr. A. G. Ingalls, who as an editor of the Scientific American, is the dean and patron saint of amateur astronomers and who has recently had a crater on the moon named in his honor, said this: ‘Questar is a little gem, and you know very well I never say such things lightly.’”[20] Braymer’s tribute was especially poignant considering that Ingalls retired as editor of Scientific American the next year.

Three years later, Braymer engaged in a retrospective account of his own entry into the hobby. In an advertisement that first appeared in the August 1957 issue of Sky and Telescope, he mused on the difficulty that amateur astronomers faced when choosing a telescope for purchase. Braymer looked back to a time “thirty years ago when we ourselves became amateurs.” At that point, “there was not any ‘Sky and Telescope’ magazine to bedazzle our eyes every month with its host of instrumental offerings for every purse and purpose. Back in those practically prehistoric times you could arrange to have a refractor custom-built at home or abroad, or you could make yourself a reflector if you had heard of the wonderful new book just published by the now legendary A. G. Ingalls, called ‘Amateur Telescope Making.’ Since there were almost no war-surplus items, a great many of us got our first glimpses of the sky through some battered spyglass from a dusty pawnshop.”[21]

And in Questar’s November 1963 advertisement in Sky and Telescope, Braymer credited Russell Porter’s “Springfield mounting concept,” a reference to the Stellafane gathering in Springfield, Vermont, as the inspiration for Questar’s slipping clutch design, which prevented “damage to slow-motion drive[s] of friction type in both altitude and azimuth.”[22]

Beyond Braymer’s promotional copywriting for Questar, other evidence clearly indicates that he and Albert Ingalls were in direct contact with one another. Citing the pair’s lengthy correspondence that is currently archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., historian Thomas Williams noted that Braymer went so far as to offer the Scientific American editor a position on Questar’s board of directors. For reasons that are not entirely clear—among other potential problems, Ingalls was apparently reluctant to compromise the objectivity of his position as telescope editor at Scientific American—Ingalls turned him down even after Braymer mounted sustained pressure on him to accept.[23]

Dennis Flanagan and Scientific American

Another dimension of Braymer’s interest in popular science—and another chapter of his personal life—emerged through Braymer’s marriage to his first wife, Nan, and his connection to his stepson, Dennis Flanagan.

Before she married Braymer, Anna “Nan” Apotheker, who was born in New York City in 1895, was the wife of John Richard Flanagan, who was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1895. In 1916, he left Australia, settled in New York City, and found work as a newspaper artist. In 1917, John and Nan married. Two years later in 1919, they had a son, Richard Dennis Flanagan. John Flanagan continued work as a professional illustrator throughout the 1920s.[24] John and Nan remained together until their divorce in 1924.[25]

Nan’s prior union with a professional illustrator perhaps meant that she herself had an artistic background or was at least drawn to persons who had such interests. This may have served as a point of connection when Nan and Lawrence Braymer, an artist by trade himself, first met. Whatever the case may be, the couple married at some point between 1925 and 1930.[26]

Nan, Lawrence, and Dennis lived together in various locations in Bucks County in the 1930s and 1940s.[27] During that time, Lawrence continued his professional work as a freelance illustrator.[28]

After two decades of marriage, Lawrence and Nan divorced in 1948.[29] The split occurred two years after Lawrence left his career as a commercial artist to develop the Questar telescope in 1946.[30]

Although the couple did not remain married as Lawrence’s new undertaking unfolded, Nan left an important and lasting mark on it: its name. During an interview with science writer Trudy Bell, Dennis Flanagan said, “My mother came up with the name ‘Questar.’” After Bell pressed him about what might have inspired her to think of the name, Flanagan simply replied, “She got it out of her head. She was a very bright woman.”[31]

After the divorce, Nan went her own way and moved to New York City. Maintaining the course of her earlier work—Dennis Flanagan later characterized his mother as a “left winger” who had engaged in political activity while she lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania—she gained employment at the National Council of the Arts, Sciences and Professions, a socialist organization.[32]

Dennis Flanagan in his office at Scientific American, circa 1980
Dennis Flanagan in his office at Scientific American, circa 1980. americanscientist.org

Meanwhile, Braymer’s stepson Dennis Flanagan began a productive career after he graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English in 1941. Most of his friends were drafted into military service at the beginning of World War II. But Flanagan, who had suffered from frequent ear infections as a child during an era before penicillin and was mostly deaf in both ears by age nine, was exempt. Having learned how to read lips, he picked up work at Life magazine, wrote on a variety of topics, and added captions under some of Robert Capa’s photographs from Omaha Beach.[33]

In 1947, Flanagan partnered with Donald Miller and Gerard Piel to acquire the flagging 102-year-old Scientific American magazine and revitalize it as a modern publication. Flanagan was its editor for the next 37 years.[34] During his long tenure, Flanagan left an indelible mark on the magazine. In his remembrance of Dennis Flanagan, Brian Hayes of the American Scientist writes that Flanagan and his colleagues invited “scientists to tell their own stories with the help of an editor and an illustrator.” Although Flanagan exercised a high degree of precision in his editorial work, “nowhere in the archives of Scientific American is there one bit of prose signed Dennis Flanagan.”[35]

In an anecdote that he relayed to Scientific American writer John Rennie, Flanagan drew a direct link between himself and his stepfather. While his partner, Gerard Piel, was seeking funding for a new science magazine after the end of World War II, “an interesting thing happened.” Flanagan continued:

The old Scientific American had a department titled “Telescoptics.” Written by Albert G. Ingalls, it was addressed to the interests of a small but passionate group of people who enjoyed making their own astronomical telescopes. Ingalls called them TN’s, or telescope nuts, and he kept in close touch with many [of] them by means of legendary postal cards always signed “Doc.” (Although he was enormously well-informed about telescope-making, he was not a Ph.D.)
Now, one of the receivers of Ingalls’s cards was my stepfather, Lawrence Braymer. A commercial artist by trade, he too was a telescope nut. (Later he became a professional telescope-maker, making a well-known small telescope named Questar.) One day Braymer received a card from Ingalls bearing sad news: Scientific American was going out of business!
The card arrived in the same period when Piel was raising money to start the new magazine titled The Sciences. When I told him the news, we looked at each other with the same thought. Instead of starting a new science magazine titled The Sciences, why didn’t we start a new magazine with the old title Scientific American? We liked the title for itself, and although the magazine was then in sad shape, it had seen great days and would give us a ready-made history....
Piel had already had some success in raising money for The Sciences, and we now asked our investors if they would consider buying and rejuvenating an old magazine instead of starting a new one. They liked the idea, and the first issue of the new Scientific American appeared in May, 1948.
(Postscript: The only department of the old magazine we retained in the new one was “Telescoptics.” We renamed it “The Amateur Telescope Maker,” and Ingalls continued writing it for some years.)[36]

Flanagan’s account established a direct link not only between Lawrence Braymer and the ATM movement but also between Braymer and himself. Eleven years after Flanagan and his colleagues published their first issue of the new Scientific American magazine, Braymer submitted his first Questar advertisement to appear in that publication. Perhaps his choice of running promotions for Questar there was driven largely by his connection with his stepson, the magazine’s editor.

Troubled by the aftermath of Hiroshima, Flanagan worked hard in the 1950s to alert the American public to the dangers of nuclear proliferation. He drew particular notoriety by collaborating with Hans Bethe, a German-American nuclear physicist who wrote a critical piece on the hydrogen bomb that had appeared in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist and that Flanagan was interested publishing in Scientific American. After about 5000 copies of the article were printed, the Atomic Energy Commission intercepted and destroyed them and confiscated the plates used to print them. A modified version of the article gained AEC approval, and it appeared in the April 1950 issue of Scientific American.[37]

Perhaps as a result of his critical stance, Flanagan drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during their inquiry into the espionage activities of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. On September 26, 1951, officials interviewed Flanagan in an effort to uncover any possible connection between him and the case.[38] They found little if anything of relevance.

Though undoubtedly harrowing, the experience had the benefit of deepening Flanagan’s interest in writing about science.[39] His talent in this area was perhaps seeded much earlier by his stepfather Lawrence Braymer, who had been present in Flanagan’s life since the age of ten if not earlier and who practiced his own interests as an amateur scientist and writer.

George Ritchey

Another brief but significant episode in Lawrence Braymer’s participation in the ATM movement was his tenure as an assistant under George Ritchey at the United States Naval Observatory.

George Willis Ritchey
George Willis Ritchey. images.app.goo.gl

After spending most of the 1920s in France working with Henri Chrétien to perfect a telescope design that bears both of their names, George Ritchey returned to the United States in 1931 to head the USNO’s astrophotography efforts and to build a new 40-inch Ritchey-Chrétien reflector. He spent the next five years there before retiring to Azusa, California.[40]

After meeting Ritchey, Lawrence Braymer went to work for him as an assistant in the design and construction of the 40-inch telescope in 1931.[41] During his short time working on the project, he never stopped coming up with new ways to make things work.[42]

The experience had a lasting effect on Braymer. In an oral history interview with Steven J. Dick in 1988, astronomer Alfred Mikesell recounted his experience sitting with Lawrence Braymer “for six hours” one day as he “listened to him recite what his experience had been working at the Naval Observatory under Ritchey as a volunteer assistant.”[43]

But Braymer’s memory of Ritchey was not entirely positive. Years later, he told Questar employee Paul Shenkle a story about one incident during which a man’s arm became pinned and crushed under the mirror blank for the 40-inch telescope. Emerging from his office to see what had happened, Ritchey then went over to the unfortunate worker, whose arm at that point was still under the blank, and coldly told him that he should have put his entire body under the disk.[44] It was but one anecdote among many others about Ritchey and his infamously difficult personality.

Annoyed with Braymer’s characteristically persistent inventiveness, Ritchey shooed him away after he had been there only three or four months.[45] Upon returning to Pennsylvania, Braymer continued his professional work as a commercial illustrator.[46] But in spite of the brevity of his time in Washington, D.C., the experience stayed with him. In Questar’s November 1963 advertisement in Sky and Telescope, for instance, Braymer wrote that Questar’s “extra-large drive gear stems from G. W. Ritchey’s efforts to achieve smooth following with fewest gears involved.”[47] Perhaps it was fitting that a little piece of his experience working under Ritchey is in many Questar telescopes.

Braymer’s Polar Refractor

Back home in Pennsylvania, Braymer continued to contemplate other ideas for telescope designs he could build himself. One such idea that materialized was a twelve-inch polar refractor that Braymer designed and engineered.

Polar telescope
An example of a polar telescope. A. A. Mills/Journal of the British Astronomical Association via articles.adsabs.harvard.edu

As the simplest form of a polar siderostat, a polar refractor is oriented parallel with the polar axis and includes a plane mirror that is adjustable by declination. It follows Earth’s rotation by pivoting on its polar-aligned mounting. In its depressed version, it requires an optically flat mirror, and it is prone to thermally turbulent air near the ground. But it offers its user the opportunity to sit comfortably in a warm room above the instrument.[48]

In January 1937, Philadelphia science writer Steve Spencer interviewed Braymer about his twelve-inch polar refractor. Built in his Bucks County farmhouse, the instrument featured a plane mirror made by A.R. Lundin of the Warner Swasey Company in Cleveland.[49]

But perhaps most interesting, as longtime Questar associate Rodger Gordon pointed out, Braymer’s polar refractor showed that he was thinking very early about the benefits of “creature comfort” while observing. It was a concern that emerged long before the appearance of the Questar telescope, whose design had convenience and ease of use at its very heart.[50]

The Entrepreneur: Braymer’s Contact with Telescope Suppliers During World War II

Considering the extent to which Lawrence Braymer had immersed himself in the ATM movement during the 1930s, it was perhaps inevitable that his drive would continue to propel him toward developing contacts with suppliers of optical components and, later, commercial telescope manufacturers who emerged during and after the Second World War.

Braymer spent much of the 1940s and 1950s building a personal network of entrepreneurs. These contacts played a critical role in his efforts to build an assembly shop operation in which he and his employees used parts that others made to produce the Questar telescope.

World War II and Its Effect on Telescope Manufacturing

With the outbreak of hostilities after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States marshalled its economic strength in a way that the nation had not experienced before and has not seen since. Within optical manufacturing, as historian Gary Leonard Cameron writes, both commercial producers and amateurs engaged in the war effort. With the sudden need for instrumentation that served a variety of applications including artillery targeting and medical microscopy, optics represented a critical area of wartime production during World War II.[51]

Given the pressing wartime need to fabricate large quantities of optical components in short order, manufacturers honed their mass production techniques. One particularly notable method that had been gaining traction in the production of binoculars and other instruments was the blocking of components. Several optical blanks were mounted onto a single tool—the “block”—and a “blocking jig” enabled a producer to mass produce identical optical components of high quality.[52]

After the war, those amateurs who had keenly engaged in the production of a huge number of optical components for the military returned to making telescopes as hobbyists. But with the experience they gained in mass production techniques, many were well primed to begin their own commercial operations in the 1940s and 1950s. No longer mere amateurs, these “professionalized ATMs,” as Cameron writes, manufactured products ranging from the cardboard-tubed Sky-Scope to the superbly-machined Questar telescope, and they targeted a large market of consumers to sell them to.[53]

Whether or not Lawrence Braymer participated in wartime optical production as an amateur is an open question. But the many contacts he made with other like-minded individuals suggest that, at the very least, he was fully engaged in building a network of suppliers that would play a key role as he built his own company and its signature product.

Norman Edmund

One such individual was Norman Edmund, who Braymer met in 1942 while the former was engaged in gathering war surplus optics.[54]

Edmund Scientific Corp. advertisement in the May 1955 issue of <em>Sky and Telescope</em>
Edmund Scientific Corp. advertisement in the May 1955 issue of Sky and Telescope. Edmund Scientific

Born in 1916, Edmund was in his mid-twenties when World War II broke out. Having suffered from tuberculosis, he did not serve in the military. But during and after the war, he wasted little time with forming his own company. After having formed the Edmund Salvage Company in 1942, he offered his first catalog that listed products “for profit, fun, or study” a year later. He began advertising in the September 1945 issue of Sky and Telescope, where for many years he promoted a wide variety of optical components that were available through his company. At first, Edmund worked out of his home in Audubon, New Jersey. But in 1948, he changed the name of his business to Edmund Scientific Company and moved to a larger facility in Barrington, New Jersey. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the company expanded its offerings of optical parts and telescope kits.[55]

Braymer’s association with Edmund represented still another connection between Braymer and the ATM movement, and it was a sign of the approach he would take with using the services of telescope parts suppliers and other entrepreneurs when he ran his own company.

Thomas Cave

Tom Cave with the Long Beach Excelsior Telescope Club
Tom Cave (second from right) with the Long Beach Excelsior Telescope Club, mid-1950s. O. Richard Norton

Another key contact was Thomas Cave. Born in Kansas City in 1923, he developed an interest in astronomy after visiting the Adler Planetarium in 1930. The next year, Cave and his family moved to Southern California. In 1935, he figured his own 6-inch f/10 mirror as part of his first telescope. After service as a medic during World War II, Cave studied at the University of Southern California. As another young man who was in his twenties after the war, he founded Cave Optical Company in Long Beach in 1950. Cave went on to perfect the mass production of optics for Newtonian and Cassegrain reflectors. Beginning as a supplier of telescope mirrors to other manufacturers and as a re-figurer of imperfect optics made by amateurs, Cave later began selling complete telescopes under the Astrola brand name.[56]

The way in which Braymer came to know Cave remains unclear. If Braymer had not already become acquainted with Cave as a networking contact or as a personal friend during the 1940s, one can hardly imagine that Braymer knew him beyond engaging the services of Cave’s company, which he started no earlier than 1950, to produce the optics for the earliest Questars. Moreover, since Cave’s company was located in Long Beach, California, far away from Braymer’s base in Pennsylvania, the potential geographic point of connection would have been clearly absent. The likeliest scenario is that Braymer simply got to know Cave after the West Coast entrepreneur started his own business and began supplying manufacturers like Braymer with optics for their instruments.

The Innovator: Braymer and the Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope

By the end of the Second World War, Braymer still counted himself as a professional artist. But he also dedicated a substantial degree of his mental power to astronomy.

First page of Lawrence Braymer’s essay entitled “Wanted: A Tube”
First page of Lawrence Braymer’s essay entitled “Wanted: A Tube,” which appeared in the November 1945 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Lawrence Braymer

Sharing space in the November 1945 issue of Astounding Science Fiction with famed writer Isaac Asimov, Braymer published an article entitled “Wanted: A Tube.” He speculated about possibilities for using electronic means to compensate for atmospheric distortion and bad seeing when making long-exposure photographs of celestial targets. “Could an automatic guiding system be devised?” Could the emerging technology of television be used in place of photographic plates? “Could we rig up a photocell so that a star’s light would trip a shutter?” With amazing foreshadowing of planetary imaging techniques using video cameras and image stacking that would become commonplace over a half-century later, Braymer contemplated the possibility of building up “a picture from thousands of intermittent snapshots, one one hundredth second to, say, one fifth or one fourth second in duration.”[57]

Whatever form it took, the approach tantalized him:

Would such a device expand the universe a bit and resolve the stars of other galaxies? On paper it would certainly seem so. It might open a new window to the sky. The beauty of pictures secured might prove startling, even in the device succeeded in resolving photographically detail only twice as small as in previous pictures of a given area. And, since no single instrumental advance has even succeeded in taking a twice-as-good leap in astronomical photography, a gain of three or four times—well, sirs, that would be quite a thing![58]

At the very least, Braymer’s writing clearly demonstrated his engagement with the cutting-edge technology of his time and his ability to write about it.

He was a consummate reader, too. The next year, Braymer encountered a piece by Russian optical engineer Dmitri Maksutov that represented a groundbreaking work in telescope design. Braymer not only recognized the significance of Maksutov’s design for the future of telescope production. He also knew how much of a departure it was from the traditional refractors and reflectors that most amateur astronomers used.

From Refractors and Reflectors to the Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope

What problem did Dmitri Maksutov solve when he conceived of his unique telescope design? What flaws did more typical telescopes suffer from? The answer to that question lies in what came before it: three hundred years of refractors and reflectors and the problems associated with those two basic designs. Braymer was familiar with all of it.

The History of the Telescope Since the Seventeenth Century

Woodcut of Hevelius’ telescope
Woodcut of Hevelius’s telescope, an illustration Braymer included in his 1954 Questar booklet to demonstrate the wildly ungainly proportions of seventeenth-century refractors.

In his 1954 Questar promotional booklet, Lawrence Braymer demonstrated his keen awareness of the history of telescopes—and his ability to understand where Questar would fall in that history—by presenting a brief exposition on the topic. He wrote that, following the use of spectacles for three hundred years, Hans Lippershey combined a positive and negative lens to make the first telescope in 1608. A year later, Galileo adapted Lippershey’s design to make the first practical refractor. But quality glass was difficult to make. In order to limit chromatic aberration, telescope makers produced very long and unwieldly tubes whose lengths were sometimes 150 or even 200 feet long. In 1663, James Gregory proposed a solution: a new design involving two mirrors, one a concave parabolic primary mirror with a central hole and another smaller concave secondary mirror. Five years later, Isaac Newton simplified Gregory’s idea and conceived of a reflecting telescope whose design famously bears his name. In 1672, Guillaume Cassegrain revisited Gregory’s original concept and developed his own design. But the practical art of producing mirrors had to wait until the eighteenth century to come to maturity. In 1722, John Hadley constructed a Newtonian reflector with a six-inch aperture and a five-foot focal length that performed comparably with the 125-foot refractor of the Royal Society in London. Improvements in refractor designs continued to emerge in the eighteenth century, but progress was slow. “Thus, two centuries ago,” Braymer concluded, “the basic shapes of refractor and reflector were established. They ushered in the age of great discoveries, and have functioned side by side in friendly rivalry until today. It was to take until the twentieth century before these two would finally be combined.”[59]

Unitron advertisement in the May 1954 issue of <em>Sky and Telescope</em>
Unitron advertisement in the May 1954 issue of Sky and Telescope. United Scientific Company

By midcentury, the instruments that amateurs used had not changed substantially since astronomy began as a modern hobby. If one picked up a copy of the May 1954 issue of Sky and Telescope, for instance, the reader would have seen numerous advertisements that demonstrated the state of the hobby around the time that Braymer began marketing his Questar telescope. On the outside back cover, Unitron showcased its offerings including the Model 114, a 2.4-inch long-tube refractor on an alt-azimuth mount that included various accessories and that was priced at $125.[60] Paging through the magazine, the reader would have seen an advertisement for Esco Products that featured a long-tube reflector on an equatorial mount with a set of spindly and unsteady tripod legs.[61] Both of these advertisements illustrated how reflectors and long-focus refractors were the dominant forms of telescopes in the hands of amateur astronomers in the mid-1950s. They also demonstrated how expensive that equipment was: in 1954, $100 represented well over one week’s pay for the median U.S. household.[62]

Emergence of the Catadioptric Telescope

In his Buyer’s and User’s Guide to Astronomical Telescopes & Binoculars, James Mullaney writes that the invention of the refractor and the reflector occurred “within a scant 60 years of each other.” After that, no major developments occurred in the design of astronomical telescopes. But three centuries later, as Mullaney continues to write, “the idea then dawned on telescope designers of combining the attributes of both the refractor and the reflector into a single system, which became known as the catadioptric (or compound) telescope.”[63]

James Short’s compound telescope on an equatorial mount
James Short’s compound telescope on an equatorial mount, which Braymer included in his 1954 Questar booklet.

Braymer also recognized the significance of this advance in design. In his 1954 Questar booklet, he cited a series of developments that unfolded over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and that helped pave the way to the Questar. In 1722, James Short produced a compound telescope whose extremely high price put out of the reach of all but the very wealthiest individuals. Its speculum metal mirror was also prone to tarnishing in a matter of months. In 1857, Leon Foucault developed the silvered glass mirror that solved many of the problems from which speculum mirrors suffered. Other developments in the last decade of the nineteenth century pointed the way to telescopes with corrected optics.[64]

Perhaps the most recent precursor to the modern catadioptric telescope was Bernhard Schmidt’s 1930 design for a camera with a spherical Newtonian mirror that was corrected by a thin aspheric corrector plate. The two components provided a flat and sharp field that was ideal for deep-sky astrophotography.[65] But the chief drawback of its design, as Braymer wrote, was the expense and difficulty of producing a thin, non-spherical correcting lens.[66] His comments foreshadowed the criticism that Questar made of the Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, which gained popularity after Celestron introduced its C8 in 1970.

The Maksutov-Cassegrain Design

In the early 1940s, a design emerged that solved all these problems. It had a short tube, was easy to mount, and was relatively simple and inexpensive to manufacture. Given the story of its creator, the fact that it ever came about defies belief.

Dmitri Maksutov, mid-1950s
Dmitri Maksutov, mid-1950s. prabook.com

Dmitri Dmitrievich Maksutov was born in Odessa in 1896 to a prominent family with strong ties to the Russian navy. Maksutov’s father introduced the young Dmitri to astronomy, and his grandfather gave him a two-inch spyglass which Dmitri modified to accept eyepieces. At age twelve or thirteen, Maksutov built his first telescope, a seven-inch reflector, and later built an 8.3-inch reflector. While continuing his involvement in serious astronomical activities, Maksutov completed his education in engineering in 1915. After serving as a member of the Russian military in the Caucasus during World War I, he volunteered for flight school in 1916. During his training, he survived an airplane crash and sustained serious injuries. Immediately upon discharge from the hospital in 1917, he attempted to emigrate to the United States, but he reached only as far as Manchuria before a lack of funds and persistent injuries from his flight training accident forced him to turn back. After receiving a sub-par education at the Tomsk Technical Institute, Maksutov undertook more serious work in astronomical optics when he began working for the Odessa Observatory in 1921. Six years later, he took a position at the Odessa State Physical Institute, where he organized a workshop for producing telescopes for schools. And in 1930, Maksutov moved to the State Optical Institute of Leningrad. There, he helped organize and lead the Laboratory of Astronomical Optics, and he continued his cutting-edge work in optics and optical manufacturing. During this period, he first proposed an aplanatic double mirror system that served as the foundation for his later work. Underscoring the absurdity of Stalinist Russia, Maksutov was jailed twice during the purges of the 1930s yet received the Order of Lenin, the highest civilian honor in the Soviet Union, two times in the 1940s.[67]

After Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Maksutov evacuated eastward. In spite of the upheaval, he continued to focus on designing high-quality astronomical telescopes particularly for school use. After considering several other approaches, he settled on one with a meniscus lens figured with positive spherical aberration to counteract the negative spherical aberration of the steeply spherical primary mirror. The aplanatic system was free of coma, chromatic aberration, and astigmatism. Given its spherical optical surfaces, it was easy to manufacture compared to parabolized mirrors. And the design was compact, portable, and easy to mount.[68]

As he moved east, he continued to refine his ideas. In August 1941, he completed his design. Finally on October 26, 1941, just three weeks after arriving in present-day Kazakhstan, Maksutov finished work on the first telescope that used his design. Less than two weeks later on November 8, he applied for a patent.[69]

While the Second World War still raged, Maksutov described how a meniscus could benefit various types of telescopes including Newtonians, Cassegrains, and Schmidts in an article entitled “New Catadioptric Meniscus Systems,” which appeared in the May 1944 issue of the Journal of the Optical Society of America.[70] Maksutov opened his paper by declaring the problem and the way he addressed it:

The defects of modern refractor and reflectors induced the author to look for a new solution. Such a solution has been found in the form of meniscus catadioptric systems. These systems are practically free from chromatism, spherical aberration, coma, and in many cases also from astigmatism. The instruments of the new type possess a high degree of compactness, are simple and cheap to construct, have a large relative aperture, high optical quality, and finally are reliable in operation. Any of the classical systems of telescopes may be transformed into a meniscus one with great advantages at the same time.[71]
Cassegrain system that followed Dmitri Maksutov’s meniscus design
In his May 1944 paper entitled “New Catadioptric Meniscus Systems,” Dmitri Maksutov included a diagram for a Cassegrain system that followed his meniscus design. archive.org

In his description of Gregorian and Cassegrain systems that used his meniscus design, Maksutov wrote that “in many cases it is possible to do without a special small secondary mirror; its role may be filled by the aluminized central part... of the inner surface of the meniscus.”[72] This small detail would later cause significant problems for Lawrence Braymer and for reasons that had nothing to do with Dmitri Maksutov or his design.

Toward the end of his paper, Maksutov supplemented the extensive technical details he outlined in prior pages with additional advice to amateur telescope makers for using his design in their work. He even offered something to those who worked in educational settings. Maksutov wrote that “a Gregorian (or Cassegrainian) meniscus system of a diameter of ~100mm, with two magnifications... and with rationally designed mechanics, forms an excellent and cheap school telescope. Such a telescope will have a price which will make it accessible not only for urban but for rural schools as well and will allow the teacher to arouse the interest of many young people in astronomy.”[73]

Although others including Albert Bouwers in the Netherlands and K. Penning in Germany had independently conceived of their own meniscus-based systems, Maksutov won lasting credit for the design, one that bears his name.[74]

For Lawrence Braymer, Maksutov’s paper laid out the program for innovation and entrepreneurship that he would spend the next two decades pursuing himself.

Braymer’s Encounter with the Maksutov-Cassegrain Design

During the summer of 1944, Braymer encountered Maksutov’s article for the first time. Excited by possibilities—and seeing an opportunity after other telescope manufacturers had largely ignored the article—Braymer realized that it became possible to miniaturize telescopes and revolutionize the industry.[75]

In particular, Braymer grew excited by what seemed like the simplicity of Maksutov’s design and the ease by which telescopes that followed its parameters could be produced. As Dennis Flanagan told science writer Trudy Bell during an interview, Braymer’s enthusiastic response to Maksutov’s article was colored by his larger outlook on life. “My father was a political radical,” Flanagan told Bell. “When he saw that the surfaces of the Maksutov were all spherical, he exclaimed, ‘This is the common man’s telescope! It doesn’t require parabolization! Anyone can have their own!’ And he began to work on his own design (although the ultimate figure of Questar optics was not spherical).”[76]

Maksutov’s article, Braymer later wrote in 1957, “created no noticeable astronomical furor” when it first appeared in May 1944. But Braymer saw things differently. “Feeling that something important to astronomers everywhere should not be overlooked,” he embarked upon “the Questar project” in 1946. “Eight years later and a quarter-million dollars later the first Questar telescope was sold from our announcement in the June, 1954, issue of ‘Sky and Telescope.’”[77]

Dmitri Maksutov died on August 12, 1964. He never left the Soviet Union. But what did Maksutov learn about the extent to which his design had been adopted by others around the world? If he became aware of these developments, Maksutov would surely have been proud to see it come to reality perhaps most notably in the form of the Questar telescope.

Next: § 1.2. Evolution of a Design for the Questar Telescope

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Notes

1 Charles Shaw, “Larry Braymer: ‘In Quest of the Stars,’” New Hope Gazette, March 14, 1985, 3, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/FAQ/, accessed October 15, 2019.

2 “Lawrence Braymer, Devised a Telescope,” New York Times, December 2, 1965, 41, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1965/12/02/95917409.pdf, accessed December 2, 2019; “Lawrence Ernest Braymer (1901 - 1965),” Ancestry.com, n.d., https://www.ancestry.com.au/genealogy/records/lawrence-ernest-braymer-24-6k9clr, accessed June 7, 2020; “Questar Products Index & Overview Page,” Company Seven, n.d., http://www.company7.com/questar/index.html, accessed July 3, 2019; Ralph Foss, “Questar Timeline” (unpublished manuscript, September 22, 2007, revised September 19, 2009), typescript.

3 “Lawrence Braymer, Devised a Telescope,” New York Times, December 2, 1965, 41, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1965/12/02/95917409.pdf, accessed December 2, 2019; Ralph Foss, “Lawrence E Braymer” (unpublished manuscript, June 11, 2006, revised June 26, 2006), typescript, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/FAQ/, accessed October 15, 2019.

4 Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21190, accessed November 3, 2019.

5 Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21190, accessed November 3, 2019.

6 “Story & Clark,” Antique Piano Shop, 2017, https://antiquepianoshop.com/online-museum/story-clark/, accessed October 30, 2020.

7 Ralph Foss, “Lawrence E Braymer” (unpublished manuscript, June 11, 2006, revised June 26, 2006), typescript, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/FAQ/, accessed October 15, 2019.

8 Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21190, accessed November 3, 2019.

9 “Senn High School,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senn_High_School, accessed October 30, 2020.

10 “Lawrence Braymer, Devised a Telescope,” New York Times, December 2, 1965, 41, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1965/12/02/95917409.pdf, accessed December 2, 2019; Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21190, accessed November 3, 2019.

11 Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21191, accessed November 3, 2019.

12 Ralph Foss, “Lawrence E Braymer” (unpublished manuscript, June 11, 2006, revised June 26, 2006), typescript, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/FAQ/, accessed October 15, 2019. Commenting on the obituary for Lawrence Braymer that appeared in the New York Times on December 2, 1965, Foss writes, “If we take his date of birth as occurring in 1901, the fact that he was a Red Cross Ambulance driver in France in World War I means that he was less than 18 years of age when the war ended. World War I ran from August of 1914 to November 11, 1918. The United States was officially in the war only from April 1917 to November 1918. While the above is not impossible it is interesting.”

13 “Lawrence Braymer, Devised a Telescope,” New York Times, December 2, 1965, 41, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1965/12/02/95917409.pdf, accessed December 2, 2019; Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21191, accessed November 3, 2019.

14 “Palette and Chisel Academy of Fine Art,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palette_and_Chisel_Academy_of_Fine_Art, accessed October 30, 2020.

15 “Walt Disney,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney, accessed October 30, 2020; “N. W. Ayer & Son,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N._W._Ayer_%26_Son, accessed October 30, 2020; Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21191, accessed November 3, 2019.

16 “Lawrence Braymer, Devised a Telescope,” New York Times, December 2, 1965, 41, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1965/12/02/95917409.pdf, accessed December 2, 2019.

17 Dun and Bradstreet, report for Questar Corporation, March 25, 1958, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/Fred%20K.%20Leisch%20Questar%20/, accessed October 14, 2019. Although this report indicates that he “became interested in this line [i.e., astronomy] as a hobby in 1930,” Braymer likely had already begun to develop a mastery of astronomy as a hobby well before then given his brief yet significant involvement as a volunteer at the United States Naval Observatory in 1931 (“Lawrence Braymer, Devised a Telescope,” New York Times, December 2, 1965, 41, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1965/12/02/95917409.pdf, accessed December 2, 2019; Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21192, accessed November 3, 2019). One can hardly imagine that the USNO would have accepted a rank amateur with only a year of experience in astronomy.

18 Gary Leonard Cameron, “Public Skies: Telescopes and the Popularization of Astronomy in the Twentieth Century,” PhD diss., (Iowa State University, 2010), 154, https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/11795/, accessed September 30, 2019.

19 Russell Porter, “The Poor Man’s Telescope,” Popular Astronomy, November 1921, 527-536, http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1921PA.....29..527P, accessed December 17, 2020; Gary Leonard Cameron, “Public Skies: Telescopes and the Popularization of Astronomy in the Twentieth Century,” PhD diss., (Iowa State University, 2010), 195-196, https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/11795/, accessed September 30, 2019.

20 Questar Corporation, Questar booklet, May 1954, 14.

21 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, August 1957, 486.

22 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, November 1963, inside front cover.

23 Don Darroch, “Guide to the Albert G. Ingalls Papers,” Smithsonian, 1985, https://sirismm.si.edu/EADpdfs/NMAH.AC.0175.pdf, accessed December 10, 2021; Thomas R. Williams, online forum posting, Antique Telescope Society Forum, July 10, 2003, https://ats-forum.groups.io/g/ATS-Forum/message/6702, accessed December 10, 2021.

24 David Saunders, “John R. Flanagan (1895-1964),” Pulp Artists, 2011, https://www.pulpartists.com/Flanagan.html, accessed June 7, 2020; “Nan Braymer,” MyHeritage.com, n.d., https://www.myheritage.com/names/nan_braymer, accessed June 7, 2020; “Anna ‘Nan’ Apotheker Braymer,” FindAGrave.com, April 30, 2013, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/109780587/anna-braymer, accessed June 7, 2020.

25 Federal Bureau of Investigation, notes from September 26, 1951, interview with Dennis Flanagan, October 1, 1951, https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n37/mode/1up, accessed June 7, 2020.

26 “Lawrence Ernest Braymer (1901 - 1965),” Ancestry.com, n.d., https://www.ancestry.com.au/genealogy/records/lawrence-ernest-braymer-24-6k9clr, accessed June 7, 2020. While the exact year that Lawrence Braymer married Nan is unclear, one can infer at least a range of time that the two married. In 1951, Dennis Flanagan noted his places of residence since his birth: New York City from 1919 to 1925; Philadelphia from 1925 to 1930; and two locations in Bucks County, Pennsylvania: Holicong from 1930 to 1936 and Lahaska from 1936 to 1940 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, notes from September 26, 1951, interview with Dennis Flanagan, October 1, 1951, https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n37/mode/1up, accessed June 7, 2020). Given three additional pieces of evidence—Braymer’s move to Philadelphia in 1924 and to Bucks County in 1929 (Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21191, accessed November 3, 2019), Nan and Dennis’s arrival in Philadelphia in 1925, and the fact that Lawrence and Nan Braymer had already been married with stepson Dennis Flanagan by the time the 1930 U.S. census was taken (Ralph Foss, “Lawrence E Braymer” (unpublished manuscript, June 11, 2006, revised June 26, 2006), typescript, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/FAQ/, accessed October 15, 2019)—the two must have met and married sometime between 1925 and 1930. This evidence also invites speculation either that Braymer and Nan met and married while both lived in Philadelphia in the late 1920s or that Braymer met Nan and married her in Bucks County shortly after he moved there in 1929.

27 Federal Bureau of Investigation, notes from September 26, 1951, interview with Dennis Flanagan, October 1, 1951, https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n37/mode/1up, accessed June 7, 2020; Ralph Foss, “Lawrence E Braymer” (unpublished manuscript, June 11, 2006, revised June 26, 2006), typescript, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/FAQ/, accessed October 15, 2019; 1940 U.S. census, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Solebury Township, sheet 13A, Lawrence Braymer; digital image, 1940census.archives.gov, https://1940census.archives.gov/search/?search.result_type=image&search.state=PA&search.county=Bucks+County&search.city=Solebury&search.street=#filename=m-t0627-03447-00206.tif&name=9-77&type=image&state=PA&index=25&pages=44&bm_all_text=Bookmark&searchby=location&searchmode=browse&year=1940, accessed June 7, 2020.

28 1940 U.S. census, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Solebury Township, sheet 13A, Lawrence Braymer; digital image, 1940census.archives.gov, https://1940census.archives.gov/search/?search.result_type=image&search.state=PA&search.county=Bucks+County&search.city=Solebury&search.street=#filename=m-t0627-03447-00206.tif&name=9-77&type=image&state=PA&index=25&pages=44&bm_all_text=Bookmark&searchby=location&searchmode=browse&year=1940, accessed June 7, 2020.

29 Federal Bureau of Investigation, notes from September 26, 1951, interview with Dennis Flanagan, October 1, 1951, https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n37/mode/1up, accessed June 7, 2020.

30 Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21192, accessed November 3, 2019.

31 Trudy E. Bell, online forum posting, Antique Telescope Society Forum, July 10, 2003, https://ats-forum.groups.io/g/ATS-Forum/message/6699, accessed December 10, 2021. On the question of how the term Questar was conceived, Stewart Squires writes that, during a visit to the company, he saw “a handwritten document in the files at Questar with a lot of product names being doodled with. Questar was on that paper” (Stewart Squires, email message to author, November 14, 2019).

32 Federal Bureau of Investigation, notes from September 26, 1951, interview with Dennis Flanagan, October 1, 1951, https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n37/mode/1up, https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n42/mode/1up, and https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n43/mode/1up, accessed November 2, 2020; “National Council of Arts, Sciences and Professions,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Council_of_Arts,_Sciences_and_Professions, accessed June 7, 2020.

33 Federal Bureau of Investigation, notes from September 26, 1951, interview with Dennis Flanagan, October 1, 1951, https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n39/mode/1up, accessed November 2, 2020; Marc Santora, “Dennis Flanagan, 85, Longtime Editor of Scientific American, Dies,” New York Times, January 17, 2005, B6, https://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/17/obituaries/dennis-flanagan-85-longtime-editor-of-scientific-american-dies.html, accessed March 19, 2020.

34 “Dennis Flanagan,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Flanagan, accessed March 19, 2020.

35 Brian Hayes, “Dennis Flanagan, 1919-2005,” americanscientist.org, n.d., https://www.americanscientist.org/article/dennis-flanagan-1919-2005, accessed June 7, 2020.

36 Dennis Flanagan to John Rennie, n.d., as quoted in John Rennie, “Dennis Flanagan, A Proud ‘Renaissance Hack,’” scientificamerican.com, January 25, 2005, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dennis-flanagan-a-proud-r, accessed December 11, 2019.

37 Hans A. Bethe, “The Hydrogen Bomb: II,” Scientific American, April 1950, 18-23, https://www.jstor.org/stable/24967426, accessed November 7, 2020; Federal Bureau of Investigation, notes from September 26, 1951, interview with Dennis Flanagan, October 1, 1951, https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n39/mode/1up and https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n40/mode/1up, accessed November 2, 2020; Marc Santora, “Dennis Flanagan, 85, Longtime Editor of Scientific American, Dies,” New York Times, January 17, 2005, B6, https://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/17/obituaries/dennis-flanagan-85-longtime-editor-of-scientific-american-dies.html, accessed March 19, 2020.

38 Federal Bureau of Investigation, notes from September 26, 1951, interview with Dennis Flanagan, October 1, 1951, https://archive.org/stream/JuliusRosenberg/Rosenberg%2C%20Julius%2041#page/n36/mode/1up, accessed June 7, 2020.

39 Marc Santora, “Dennis Flanagan, 85, Longtime Editor of Scientific American, Dies,” New York Times, January 17, 2005, B6, https://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/17/obituaries/dennis-flanagan-85-longtime-editor-of-scientific-american-dies.html, accessed March 19, 2020.

40 “Ritchey, George Willis,” Encyclopedia.com, n.d., https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/science-and-technology/astronomy-biographies/george-willis-ritchey, accessed July 3, 2020; “George Willis Ritchey,” Prabook, n.d., https://prabook.com/web/george.ritchey/3758628, accessed November 2, 2020; “George Willis Ritchey,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Willis_Ritchey, accessed July 3, 2020.

41 “Lawrence Braymer, Devised a Telescope,” New York Times, December 2, 1965, 41, https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1965/12/02/95917409.pdf, accessed December 2, 2019; Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21192, accessed November 3, 2019.

42 Stewart Squires, email message to author, November 10, 2020.

43 Alfred Mikesell, interview by Steven J. Dick, tape recording transcript, Baltimore, Maryland, August 3, 1988, http://www.mikesell.info/pdf/TheAstronomer.pdf, accessed December 15, 2020, 26.

44 Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

45 Alfred Mikesell, interview by Steven J. Dick, tape recording transcript, Baltimore, Maryland, August 3, 1988, http://www.mikesell.info/pdf/TheAstronomer.pdf, accessed December 15, 2020, 26; Stewart Squires, email message to author, November 10, 2020.

46 Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21192, accessed November 3, 2019.

47 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, November 1963, inside front cover.

48 A. A. Mills, “Heliostats, Siderostats, and Coelostats: A Review of Practical Instruments for Astronomical Applications,” Journal of the British Astronomical Association 95, no. 3 (1985): 89-90, http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1985JBAA...95...89M, accessed November 2, 2020.

49 Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21188, accessed November 3, 2019; Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21192, accessed November 3, 2019. Squires notes that Spencer’s article would have appeared in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. He also commented that, during a visit to Questar’s headquarters, he saw a photograph of Braymer with his polar refractor.

50 Rodger Gordon to the author, September 23, 2020.

51 Gary Leonard Cameron, “Public Skies: Telescopes and the Popularization of Astronomy in the Twentieth Century,” PhD diss., (Iowa State University, 2010), 204, https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/11795/, accessed September 30, 2019.

52 Gary Leonard Cameron, “Public Skies: Telescopes and the Popularization of Astronomy in the Twentieth Century,” PhD diss., (Iowa State University, 2010), 213, https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/11795/, accessed September 30, 2019.

53 Gary Leonard Cameron, “Public Skies: Telescopes and the Popularization of Astronomy in the Twentieth Century,” PhD diss., (Iowa State University, 2010), 221, 305, https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/11795/, accessed September 30, 2019.

54 Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21192, accessed November 3, 2019.

55 Roger W. Sinnott, “Norman Edmund, Optics Entrepreneur,” Sky and Telescope, January 24, 2012, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/norman-edmund-optics-entrepreneur/, accessed September 26, 2020; “75th Timeline,” Edmund Optics, n.d., https://www.edmundoptics.com/company/about-us/75th-timeline, accessed December 28, 2019.

56 Thomas A. Dobbins, “Thomas R. Cave (1923-2003),” Sky and Telescope, July 23, 2003, https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/thomas-r-cave-19232003/, accessed September 26, 2020; Gary Leonard Cameron, “Public Skies: Telescopes and the Popularization of Astronomy in the Twentieth Century,” PhD diss., (Iowa State University, 2010), 221-222, https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/11795/, accessed September 30, 2019.

57 Lawrence Braymer, “Wanted: A Tube,” Astounding Science Fiction, November 1945, 124-126.

58 Lawrence Braymer, “Wanted: A Tube,” Astounding Science Fiction, November 1945, 126.

59 Questar Corporation, Questar booklet, May 1954, 14-16.

60 United Scientific Company, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, May 1954, outside back cover.

61 Esco Products, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, May 1954, 243.

62 “Family Income in the United States: 1954 and 1953,” U.S. Census Bureau, December 1955, https://www.census.gov/library/publications/1955/demo/p60-020.html, accessed August 14, 2020.

63 James Mullaney, A Buyer’s and User’s Guide to Astronomical Telescopes & Binoculars (London: Springer, 2007), 47, https://books.google.com/books?id=hzpoQRh9QEQC&pg=PA46#v=onepage&q&f=false, accessed June 17, 2020.

64 Questar Corporation, Questar booklet, May 1954, 16-17.

65 James Mullaney, A Buyer’s and User’s Guide to Astronomical Telescopes & Binoculars (London: Springer, 2007), 47, https://books.google.com/books?id=hzpoQRh9QEQC&pg=PA46#v=onepage&q&f=false, accessed June 17, 2020.

66 Questar Corporation, Questar booklet, May 1954, 17.

67 Yuri Petrunin and Eduard Trigubov, “Dmitri Maksutov: The Man and His Telescopes,” Sky and Telescope, December 2001, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A80448564/AONE, accessed November 6, 2020; “Dmitry Dmitrievich Maksutov,” Prabook, n.d., https://prabook.com/web/dmitry.maksutov/3757446, accessed September 26, 2020; “Dmitry Dmitrievich Maksutov,” Wikipedia, n.d., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dmitry_Dmitrievich_Maksutov, accessed September 26, 2020.

68 Yuri Petrunin and Eduard Trigubov, “Dmitri Maksutov: The Man and His Telescopes,” Sky and Telescope, December 2001, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A80448564/AONE, accessed November 6, 2020; Ludmila A. Gerasimova, “Dmitri Maksutov’s Scientific Legacy,” Sky and Telescope, December 1995, 77; James Mullaney, A Buyer’s and User’s Guide to Astronomical Telescopes & Binoculars (London: Springer, 2007), 47, https://books.google.com/books?id=hzpoQRh9QEQC&pg=PA46#v=onepage&q&f=false, accessed June 17, 2020; Gary Leonard Cameron, “Public Skies: Telescopes and the Popularization of Astronomy in the Twentieth Century,” PhD diss., (Iowa State University, 2010), 230-231, https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/etd/11795/, accessed September 30, 2019.

69 D. D. Maksutov, “New Catadioptric Meniscus Systems,” Journal of the Optical Society of America 34, no. 5 (1944): 270; Yuri Petrunin and Eduard Trigubov, “Dmitri Maksutov: The Man and His Telescopes,” Sky and Telescope, December 2001, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A80448564/AONE, accessed November 6, 2020.

70 D. D. Maksutov, “New Catadioptric Meniscus Systems,” Journal of the Optical Society of America 34, no. 5 (1944): 270-284; Ludmila A. Gerasimova, “Dmitri Maksutov’s Scientific Legacy,” Sky and Telescope, December 1995, 77; Yuri Petrunin and Eduard Trigubov, “Dmitri Maksutov: The Man and His Telescopes,” Sky and Telescope, December 2001, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A80448564/AONE, accessed November 6, 2020.

71 D. D. Maksutov, “New Catadioptric Meniscus Systems,” Journal of the Optical Society of America 34, no. 5 (1944): 270.

72 D. D. Maksutov, “New Catadioptric Meniscus Systems,” Journal of the Optical Society of America 34, no. 5 (1944): 278-279.

73 D. D. Maksutov, “New Catadioptric Meniscus Systems,” Journal of the Optical Society of America 34, no. 5 (1944): 283.

74 Ludmila A. Gerasimova, “Dmitri Maksutov’s Scientific Legacy,” Sky and Telescope, December 1995, 77.

75 Charles Shaw, “Larry Braymer: ‘In Quest of the Stars,’” New Hope Gazette, March 14, 1985, 3, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/files/FAQ/, accessed October 15, 2019; “Questar Products Index & Overview Page,” Company Seven, n.d., http://www.company7.com/questar/index.html, accessed November 3, 2019; Stewart Squires, online forum posting, Questar Users Group, August 10, 2010, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Questar/conversations/messages/21189, accessed November 3, 2019.

76 Trudy E. Bell, online forum posting, Antique Telescope Society Forum, July 10, 2003, https://ats-forum.groups.io/g/ATS-Forum/message/6699, accessed December 10, 2021.

77 Questar Corporation, advertisement, Sky and Telescope, August 1957, 486.