From guitars to astronomy, Terry McInturff shares his passions with Siler City

Posted 11/15/19

SILER CITY — On Monday, Terry McInturff offered the public the chance to view the transit of Mercury, an occurrence so rare it only happens a dozen or so times a century.

McInturff, renowned …

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From guitars to astronomy, Terry McInturff shares his passions with Siler City

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Posted

SILER CITY — On Monday, Terry McInturff offered the public the chance to view the transit of Mercury, an occurrence so rare it only happens a dozen or so times a century.

McInturff, renowned custom guitar maker for guitar legends, is also an amateur astronomer. The craftsman, who loves to spend free time camping and watching the cosmos, has even gone so far as to hand-craft his own telescopes ­— six or seven of them.

A transit of Mercury is when the planet passes directly in front of the sun, allowing it to be visible against the our sun’s surface. The force of the sun is so powerful that you cannot look directly at it without special equipment.

“I intend to project an image of the sun on a white piece of paper,” McInturff said to the dozen or so people who gathered at the courtyard at the Rotary Stage in Siler City. “Let’s keep our fingers crossed this works at all.”

He warned the onlookers to not look directly into the telescope as that, too, would do significant damage to one’s vision.

As he worked to adjust the telescope, paper and light, an image appeared. A black dot on the “vastness of the sun” appeared on the page. The sun was still so bright on the projected page as to leave observers with mild sunspots on their eyes.

“Look at the relative size of the planet versus the sun,” McInurff said as “oohs,” “ahhs” and giggles came from the crowd.

McInturff first became interested in astronomy thanks to a neighbor during the “space race” to the moon. A self-described “science nerd,” McInturff describes amateur telescope making and astronomy as a “very rewarding hobby” saying that “being under the night sky is a form of meditation for me.”

“I haven’t a care in the world when looking at the stars,” he said. “It really gives you perspective.”

After about a hour, McInturff began to disassemble his telescope rig as onlookers began to make their way to their next destinations.

“I think that’s about the end of this dog and pony show,” McInturff said. “I’ve got guitars to make.”

Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.

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