From the picturesque landscapes of Arizona, Zane Landers stands as a testament to the passion of amateur astronomy. Both an observer of the heavens and a craftsman, he's made significant contributions to the hobby of amateur astronomy and telescope making.
Frequently attending star parties and astronomy events, Zane shares his vast knowledge and passion for the universe. As a board member of the local DarkSky chapter and an active contributor to the Reach For the Stars astronomy nonprofit, his commitment to the wonders of the night sky is unwavering.
Beyond his astronomical pursuits, Zane is a multifaceted individual. He enjoys crafting woodwork and roller skating, embodying exploration and creativity. Currently, he's working on a 30" Dobsonian telescope and innovating the technique of casting and grinding large, thin meniscus mirrors for telescopes.
As of September 2023, Zane has owned over 425 telescopes, of which around 400 he has actually gotten to take out under the stars. These range from the stuff we review on TelescopicWatch to homemade or antique telescopes; the oldest he has owned or worked on so far was an Emil Busch refractor made shortly before the outbreak of World War I. Many of these are telescopes that he repaired or built.
Zane buys and sells telescopes on eBay, Facebook, Astromart, etc., and usually do it for the fun of repairing them. He rarely buys something that actually works as intended. He has also built around a dozen telescopes as large as 30” in aperture and ground about half that many mirrors.
In addition, Zane has mentored a few dozen people in making telescopes and optics for them, as well as helping to repair, maintain, and demonstrate thousands of instruments for other people. Much of his commentary on common, bad beginner telescopes actually comes from his attempts to assist people who have bought them.
"Many people are intimidated by astronomy and telescopes, especially if their first experience is a negative one, which is quite unfortunate. Telescopes are nowhere near as arcane or difficult to understand/use as many people often think. The reality is that you can grind the optics for one on your kitchen table if you feel so inclined, and it is easily possible to rehabilitate something decades or centuries old and get similar performance to a modern unit. Likewise, you don’t typically need expensive carrying cases for one or a PHD in astronomy to figure out how to set up a mount. Learning to use a telescope is something that really only takes a few minutes and some patience", Zane says.
Zane earned his Bachelor of Arts in Communications with a minor in History from the University of Connecticut-Stamford. This academic foundation has enriched his ability to communicate the intricacies of the cosmos to both fellow enthusiasts and curious minds.
Youth Director, Fairfield County Astronomical Society (2017-2019)
Youth Director, Westport Astronomical Society (2018-present)