Lockwood Custom Optics, Inc.

Me and a mirror Welcome to the Lockwood Custom Optics web site.  My name is Michael Lockwood, and I started LCO in 2006 to supply quality optics to amateur and professional astronomers, telescope builders, scientists, researchers, and industry.

I answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.
I describe Recent or Notable Projects here.
I list my Articles, Talks, and Presentations here.

I specialize in high quality custom optics (rather than doing large production runs of one type of mirror) because I believe in giving each optic individual attention in figuring and testing to make it the best it can possibly be.  I also understand that quality custom optics are not easy to find, and I want to be a dependable source.

I am a source for high-quality optics and services such as:

As for customer service, I specialize in:

For astronomical use, products from Lockwood Custom Optics produces high-accuracy optics that produce high-contrast, high resolution images that will allow your instrument to excel in its application.  For scientific and other uses, LCO represents one of the best values in LIDAR and other types of optics.

Other important notes

Before placing an order, please read my FAQ.  It contains answers to lots of questions, and also discloses some terms and conditions of sale.

Large mirrors - I can currently provide mirrors up to ~42" in diameter from high-quality, precision annealed, monolithic borosilicate glass up to 2.5" in thickness.   This is very good glass, and it is usually available with little wait.  I will help to make your large-aperture telescope a reality and success, not only by making high-quality optics, but also with mirror cell advice.

Small mirrors -  I prefer to make new monolithic mirrors that are 14.5" or larger.  For 8" - 14" optics, I highly recommend Carl Zambuto.  I refigure mirrors as small as 10".  I work cast cellular blanks and flats in just about any size.  I do not make small flats, and I prefer to refigure flats only when I am working on or testing a primary that goes with it.  I am now only supplying smaller flats for clients who are buying a primary or are having one refigured by me.

Mirror cell testing - I can also provide some testing and validation results for the edge support of a mirror cell, a useful and often vital testing step that many telescope builders have never even considered, and which is very important for large, thin mirrors.  I very rarely see back supports that work improperly, however I frequently see mirror cells with improper edge supports that can compromise the optical performace of any mirror that they hold.

Experience and typical work:  I have considerable experience in working thin mirrors, cast cellular mirrors, and sub-F/4 optics, and combinations thereof.  I make custom focal ratios and can supply a specific focal length to close tolerance if required.

I make custom optics, so I generally don't have finished mirrors in stock. However, I usually have some generated mirror blanks that are ready for work.  For a list of any items that I may have in stock, please click here, and see if that gives you some project ideas.

Much of my work is for the clients listed on my Clients page, and I thank them for choosing to work with me based on the quality of my work, adaptability to meet their needs, timely delivery, and dependability.  My Projects Page lists many, but not all, of the other projects that I have been involved with.

Contact Information

If you have a project that requires high-quality optics done right the first time, or a mirror that needs refiguring or testing, please email me at:

mirrors (at) loptics (dot) com              

PLEASE NOTE - EMAIL (in general) DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK!  Technology has made communication easier, but certain email addresses are blocked by certain filters, messages sometimes simply disappear, and that is not your or my fault.  So, If you've tried to contact me and haven't heard back, there is a significant chance that the email got eaten by the internet or a spam filter.

I may be busy, but I am NOT ignoring you.  Also, remember that I may occasionally be on vacation and away from internet service.

If you don't receive my reply within a week, please join my Yahoo group and post a message there.  If you can see your message, then so can I, and I can respond.

For shipments/payments, my shipping and mailing address is:

Michael Lockwood
Lockwood Custom Optics
648 CR 1700E
Philo, IL 61864 USA

Important events and firsts

Note:  Many of the first/events described below are listed on my Projects Page.

LCO was founded in 2006.  In 2007, I began making thin monolithic primary mirrors for Dream Telescopes.  These were Pyrex, 16.5" in diameter, 1.25" thick, and at that time no one was making such thin mirrors commercially.

In early 2008, Dream switched to cast cellular blanks, so I bought the blanks and began making these mirrors for Starmaster Portable Telescopes.  They proved to be a sensation in the visual telescope market.  It was the first production visual instrument to combine high-quality, fast, and thin optics.  This telescope allowed seated (comfortable!) observing all over the sky.  More on these mirrors can be seen on this page.  This was called the FX Series of Starmaster Telescopes.

Later in 2008, I made the first 20" f/3 mirror for visual use, an unheard-of 1.25"-thick, made from Pyrex.  Five years later, I am still the only optician making such a mirror.  Starmaster Portable Telescopes built the structure, and it is still my main visual instrument.  I called it the 20" f/3 MX telescope, MX standing for "Mike's eXperiment".  
Three articles have been written about this instrument: First look at the Starmaster 20" f/3 MX, Observing with the 20" f/3 in Missouri, The 20" f/3 goes to Florida and WSP 2009, and it has been featured in columns in Astronomy Magazine and Sky and Telescope.  In 2013, JPAstrocraft built a highly customized 20" f/3 for a client using my optics.  (In recent years, others have copied it, but I did it first and with the thinnest, fastest-cooling glass.)

With the availability of TeleVue Ethos eyepieces and later the Paracorr Type 2, telescopes at f/3.6 and faster could be enjoyed by all telescope buyers.  (When the 20" f/3 was built, the eyepieces and correctors had not quite caught up to the drop in f/#.)  With the Ethos and Paracorr Type 2, the 20" f/3 performed beyond my expectations.

So, in early 2009, I made the first f/3.3 primary mirror for a commercial visual telescope, a 22" f/3.3.  It was made from 1.4"-thick Pyrex.  The telescope was built by Starmaster Portable Telescopes, and the f/3.3 telescopes were called the Super-FX series.  

Later in 2009, I produced a 30" f/3.3 for Starmaster, and the owner raved about its performance.  Soon, other opticians were offering mirrors at f/3.3, but I did it first.  24" f/3.3 and 28" f/3.3 mirrors were also offered to fill in the range of sizes.

Also in 2009, I made a 14.5" f/2.55 mirror for an experimental visual instrument that I built.  Visually it was a success, and is my favorite instrument for scanning the Milky Way that I have ever used.  An article about it can be seen here.

In 2010, I moved to a new, larger shop.  I chose to do this to allow work on larger, heavier mirrors, to reduce my lead time, and to increase my production and testing capability, all while maintaining the same high standards.

In the middle of 2010, I produced the first 20" f/3.3 mirror from 1.25"-thick quartz.  It was offered exclusively in a Starmaster telescope with a 4.5" quartz secondary mirror.  This Starmaster model is called the Super-FX-Q.

Also in 2010, in my shop, under controlled conditions, John Pratte (of JPAstrocraft) and I tested a multitude of mirror edge support schemes for John's 25" f/4 telescopes.  We discovered that adding a roller to a whiffletree edge support prevented the support from pulling on the mirror, causing astigmatism.  We have freely shared this discovery, and this type of edge support has since been implemented by several other manufacturers, at my urging.  This has improved telescope performance markedly when the telescope is not pointed high in the sky.  At LCO, we believe in helping manufacturers to support our mirrors in the best manner possible, and we support them in that endeavor whenever possible.

In 2011, I made a 28" f/2.75 mirror, another first.  The telescope was built by Webster Telescopes, and the owner reported superb performance from an instrument that only needed one step at zenith!  In 2012, I received an order for a 28" f/2.8, to be built by SDM Telescopes in Australia.  A 32" f/2.8 is also now on order for another client in the US.

From 2011 through 2013, I completed three 50" mirrors, two 42" mirrors, a 43.4" mirror, and two 40" f/3 mirrors.  2014 should see completion of a 45", 40" R-C system, and beginning work on another 40", and has already seen numerous mirrors completed in the 14.5" to 36" size range.  I also made a 32" f/2.8 that has received a lot of attention.

At the beginning of 2014, LCO was incorporated and became Lockwood Custom Optics, Inc.  I purchased a second Buccini MIC-1 interferometer and upgraded it to phase shifting capability (PSI), with analysis done by Durango from Diffraction International.  PSI is the current industry standard, is a great improvement over static-fringe analysis, and allows very powerful analysis to be done on optics and optical systems.  The other MIC-1 will be dedicated to high-precision flat testing in the future using the same software package.


I answer Frequently Asked Questions here (FAQ).
I describe Recent or Notable Projects here.
I list my Talks and Presentations here.

My old (and not up to date!) amateur telescope making (ATM) site

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