To celebrate National Astronomy Day today, I wanted to share the story of the man who you’ll see in the dedication of my upcoming book “The Witch’s Mirror, The Craft, Lore, & Magick of the Looking Glass," my grandpa and mirror-maker William M. Vaughan, but if you're his friend, just call him Bill. If you wonder why I dedicated the book to my grandpa, read on...
|Grandpa with one of his magic mirrors that he painstakingly ground to the perfect shape and curve himself...what's so magic about it? You can use it to see the stars!|
On January 4 1970 The Columbia Missourian Sunday Magazine published an article about my grandpa, and I thought sharing it here on National Astronomy Day would be a cool glimpse into a few of the mirrors that inspired me in my childhood and the master craftsman who made them, my grandpa. While I have posted the article here, I’ve also transcribed it as well as it was written to make it easier to read from my blog. I did take the license of spelling his last name Vaughan instead of Vaughn as it is spelled in the article, I just didn’t have the heart…LOL
January 4, 1970 Five years ago, Attorney W. M. Vaughan retired from his job as a claims director for an insurance company and hung-up a new shingle in the basement of his home on Route 2 east of Columbia. The shingle reads: “The Meridian Company; Bill Vaughan, President.”
Not only is Bill Vaughan president but vice president, master craftsman, and janitor as well. The Meridian Company makes telescopes, or more accurately, the concave mirrors which are the hearts of reflecting-type telescopes.
Bill Vaughan has been interested in telescopes and astronomy most of his life. Over the years he has read most of the books on telescope-making and optics. Eight years ago he built his first telescope. Since then he has built many. He became so good that he decided to make a business of it.
With the aid of unique contraptions fashioned from washing machine motors, he grinds and polishes mirrors ranging in size from 4 1/4 to 12 1/2 inches in diameter, which are corrected to within one-millionth of an inch. If you ask him how long it takes to complete an mirror, he will say, "It takes as long as it takes," explaining that each glass mirror blank has a personality of it's own, much like a diamond.
Bill Vaughan is proud of his optics. He guarantees them unconditionally. In the past five years he has sold at least one of his mirrors in each of the 50 states and Canada. He has yet to have a mirror returned.
In pictures, Bill Vaughan works on a six-inch mirror, which eventually becomes part of a Cassegrain telescope (lower center).
|Grandma and Grandpa on their wedding day!|
|Bill Vaughan as a young man, love that smile!|
If you've had the good fortune to see the stars through a telescope made in the late 60's through the 70's there is a small chance that the light from stars millions of miles away was reflected into your vision by a mirror lovingly ground and polished by the hands of my grandfather.