Update of the Anton Kutter biography in Progress!

Anton Kutter (June 13, 1903 - February 1, 1985)

Born on June 13, 1903, in Biberach an der Riß, Schwaben/Württemberg, South Germany, Anton Kutter got his school education in Biberach and later in Ravensburg. In 1922, he went to Stuttgart to study engineering at the Technical University, which he finished in 1925 with graduation in mechanical engineering. Besides his studies, he assisted at the Public Observatory in Stuttgart (1923-1925), and took some courses in astronomy. At that time, he got known with and influenced by Philipp Fauth (1867-1941), a great observer of the Moon and planets. From Stuttgart, he had occasion to observe the great Mars Opposition of 1924, and to compare the view with a 220mm Stauss refractor to a 200mm Merz reflector telescope. This comparison, unfavoring the reflector, attracted his attention and triggered him to investigate the effects of image definition and obstruction in telescopes, a research which eventually led to the invention of the Schiefspiegler (e.g., Kutter 1963, p. 39).

Already at age of 10, Kutter had made his first photo camera. Aged 12, he manufactured his first refractor from lenses taken from a toy cinematograph. In his young years he got interested in astronomy and frequently observed the night sky from the roof of his home, and in particular his favorite, the Moon, also with this telescope. He frequently visited the "Spielfilmhaus", a cinema in Biberach founded by Gottlob Friedrich Erpff in 1912. In 1918, at age of 15, he produced his first amateur movie, "Tom Sawyer", in Biberach, with the daughter of Erpff, Else, as the Becky; Else should later become Anton's wife (in 1933).

In 1926 he went to Cologne and joined the Phototechnisches Labor (Phototechnical Laboratory), and created his first movies the same year. Among them was a portrait of Biberach. He also made movies in Paris (4), Switzerland, and from 1931 to 1947, worked for the Bavaria Film in Munich. In 1937, he created the Science Fiction movie, "Weltraumschiff I startet" [Space Ship I launches], a story about a first spaceflight around the Moon (a flyby over the far side of the Moon), which he dated in 1963 (more acurately, the launch on his 60th birthday, June 13, 1963). In all, he created about 50 movies.

In Munich, he got known to the astronomer Anton Staus (1872-1952), who introduced him to the theory of "Brachy" telescopes, reflectors of short construction, but not obstruction-free, developed in 1876-77 by J. Forster and K. Fritsch in Vienna. Kutter got interested and developed plans for a "Neo-Brachyt," which were supported by the Munich optical and mechanical workshop of Georg Tremel starting in 1936. After four years, a first instrument was publicly presented, an obstruction-free reflecting telescope which was of the design of the modern Schiefspiegler in its anastigmatic variant.

World War II prevented immediate further development. Bombed out, Kutter lived in the house of Prof. Staus in Pullach, Bavaria, during World War II. There he started to write a treatise and documentation, which was finally completed and published in 1953 under the title "Der Schiefspiegler" (Kutter 1953).

After World War II, he returned to Biberach and in 1948 took over the cinema "Filmtheater" of his father in law, Gottlob Friedrich Erpff. He produced another 6 movies after 1948 until 1955.

In 1955, he founded a second cinema, the "Urania Theater," and dedicated his professional life to the post of a cinema director. This profession left him enough time for a successful amateur career in astronomy. The same year, he relocated the observatory dome of the Pullach observatory to Biberach, and erected it on the roof of the "Urania" cinema. This observartory was called "Urania Sternwarte" and equipped with a 12-inch (30 cm) Schiefspiegler.

Kutter and the Schiefspiegler got internationally reknown in the late 1950s and the 1960s (see the publications of 1958, 1958a, 1959, 1963, 1965, 196?, 196??). In the 1960s, Lichtenknecker Optics started to offer mirror sets for Kutter Schiefspieglers. For several years, the Kosmos Verlag company offered a kit for building a Schiefspiegler according to his construction plans (Kutter 1964). His last construction, the very compact Tri-Schiefspiegler, was published in 1975 (Kutter 1975a, 1975b).

During the 1970s, Kutter retired to a life with his family in Biberach without much publicity. In 1972 he handed over the cinema operation to his son Adrian who directed it to 2007. After a longer disease, Anton Kutter passed away on February 1, 1985.

He will be remembered for his Schiefspiegler, also called the Kutter telescope. Nowadays, Kutter telescopes of up to 40 cm aperture, while not exactly widespread, have been offered for amateurs. The largest instrument the present author is aware of is a 24-inch in Glücksburg near Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.

There has been a museum on Kutter in Laupheim, which has now been integrated into the Filmmuseum Baden-Wuerttemberg, in Biberach. This motion picture museum is still directed by Adrian Kutter, located in the rooms of his former cinema. The cinema, then called "Sternenpalast," was handed over by Adrian in 2007 and is now called "Traumpalast. " The observatory dome is still on the top of the building; the 12-inch Schiefspiegler has recently been turned over to Belgian astronomers and restored, and continues to serve astronomers at the University of Gent. Anton Kutter's House of Birth, the "Haus zum Kleeblatt," is situated prominently at the beautiful Biberach market place.

The astronomical community has honored Anton Kutter with the naming of asteroid (400308) Antonkutter, discovered 2007-Oct-13 by R. Gierlinger, at Gaisberg, and provisionally designated 2007 TX184.



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