Looking at the cosmos through a telescope is a transformative experience. The rings of Saturn, the clouds of distant nebulae, and the familiar yet alien surface of our own Moon all come to life. Build a simple smartphone mount and you can capture and share crisp images right from your backyard observatory – yes, smartphone cameras are that good now. Russ McAllister designed this rig for his iPhone and posted the plans on Instructables.com (search for “iPhone mount for telescopes”). We’ve made a few adjustments to simplify the process and to fit our oversize Google Nexus 4. The project can be done in an hour, for just a few rand.
- Conduit hanger (should fit snugly on eyepiece)
- 150 mm bolt (make sure it fits hole in base of conduit hanger)
- 25 mm bolt
- L-shaped corner bracket
- Washers, nuts, wingnuts
- Two pieces of wood, cut from 12 mm stock: 112 mm x 75 mm and 12 mm x 75 mm (we used plywood)
- Rubber bands
Step 1: Wooden base
Create shelf for phone by gluing small piece of wood (A) across large piece (B). Using drill and jigsaw, cut a horizontal 50 mm slot (C) wide enough to fit 25 mm bolt, as shown. (Slot allows you to adjust positioning.) Cut a rebate around the slot, on front, to recess bolt head. Next, attach L-bracket (D) to back of wooden base using the short bolt and wingnut.
Step 2: Assembly
Insert 150 mm bolt into conduit hanger base (E); secure with washers and nut. Attach L-bracket to long bolt using washers and nuts, as shown.
Step 3: Mounting
Attach conduit hanger to eyepiece. Use rubber bands to attach phone. Loosen wingnuts to adjust lens position.
By Mary Beth Griggs