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Sky the limit for Teddington telescope maker
Illness gave a former photographer a new life focus, and he is now reaching for the stars as a telescope maker.
Plagued with rheumatoid arthritis and recovering from an operation after a catalogue of health problems, Mark Turner had a “eureka” moment and decided to follow his passion for star gazing.
He said: “I reached the point in photography that I got arthritis and it was very difficult to use the cameras.
“I still feel 20 but the body is letting me down. I have got to do something creative before I can’t do it at all.
“Why wait until you are older? It’s a case of do what it is what you feel you should do now because tomorrow is an unknown quantity.”
The 53-year-old converted his photography studio in his garden in Mays Road, Teddington, into a workshop last year and taught himself to make refractor telescopes from scratch.
He said: “I have always been interested but I had never picked up a machine tool in the whole of my life until December. “I have blown up four lathes so far. But you learn best by trying.”
Moonraker Telescopes has sold 60 telescopes since May to people around the world and, as one of only four telescope makers in the UK, Mr Turner has a backlog of orders to complete before Christmas.
The bespoke telescopes cost between £800 and £1,800 but Mr Turner has sold some models for up to £3,000 after being told by customers to “have fun” or “go wild” with the designs.
He said in a busy week he could make two of the shiny polished aluminium telescopes, which he described as “Arnold Schwarzenegger meets Mig fighter”.
He said: “I make each telescope as if I am making it for me.
“There are a lot of causal enthusiasts out there but they would still like something beautiful.
“My mission is to make things which are as good to look at as to look through.
“It’s the only thing that you can make on this planet that you can look at the past with in the present.”
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