The Oldest Show on Earth

Self portrait while observing the Great Orion Nebula through a large telescope. To all those observers who stayed home to watch the game on TV, said it was too cold out, or thought it would be cloudy and lost heart, you are missing out (2013).

Background

Astronomy is a rich topic, one that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. My own quest began without a telescope. While in elementary school, my parents bought me a book on space, The Golden Book of Stars and Planets. It was the first book I ever read and it was the start of a lifelong fascination with astronomy and the night sky.


When I was twelve years old, I was given my first real telescope, a 6” f/8 Newtonian on a basic equatorial mount. For over 8 years, this telescope introduced me to the Moon, planets, and the deep sky. It even allowed experiments with film astrophotography as a grade school project, though my efforts achieved only limited success. While in college, I upgraded to a more capable and portable instrument, an 8” Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope (SCT). This telescope would cross the country with me several times as I went from student to graduate, then into the service of the US Navy.

Eventually I began to experiment with other telescopes including Achromat and Apochromat refractors up to 6” of aperture, SCT’s up to 14” of aperture, as well as other capable designs. My current primary visual instrument is a 25” f/5 reflector on a dobsonian mount, a formidable telescope for which my particular case of aperture fever was satisfied. With this telescope, several childhood observing goals were finally realized including routine sightings of the iconic Horsehead Nebula and the direct observation of the spiral structure of galaxies.

Over the last several years, with the benefit of more affordable and capable cameras, I have resumed my efforts in astrophotography and the results are presented here at the Oldest Show on Earth. I have used both DSLR and monochrome CCD cameras with a variety of telescopes, both short and long focal lengths. Astrophotography has never been an easy proposition but the tools and resources available today make learning this challenging pursuit a lot more enjoyable than in the film days. It’s a great time to get active in amateur astronomy.

Astronomy is often a solitary activity but I enjoy sharing the sights of the night sky with those who have not yet experienced it. In the past I have been active in local astronomy clubs and presented topics on astronomy to numerous schools, the Fresno Children's Hospital, and run a multi-night workshop for beginning observers. My vision for the Oldest Show on Earth is to share this interest for the night sky, provide an educational resource covering a range of practical astronomy topics, and ultimately inspire others to reacquaint themselves with the stars.


Be sure to check back soon as more will be added.