Please visit my
Amateur Astronomy website.
Amateur astronomy is one
of those hobbies in which I participated avidly for the four years in the U.S. Air
Force and for a couple years after separating. During that time I observed as often
as time and atmospheric conditions permitted. While at Robins AFB, in Warner Robins,
Georgia, I belonged to the Macon Amateur Astronomy club and spent quite a few Friday
evenings operating the museum's/club's 8", 10" and 14" Celestron telescopes both
for private observation and for assisting the public after the planetarium show.
The club took a couple trips to the Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta and got to look through their
32" reflector, which at the time (circa 1980) was the largest reflecting telescope
in the southeast. Today, of course, private 30" Dobsonians are as affordable as
motorcycles. A picture of me and my 8" Newtonian reflector is given below. I ended
up selling it after getting married to help pay the mortgage (sold all the R/C stuff,
too). Only naked-eye (no longer anywhere near my former 20/15 vision) and my trusty
binoculars remain for observing over the past 20 years. Recently, have I begun reacquiring
some of my "toys" from yesteryear. I have not purchased another telescope yet, but
the good thing is that now the state of the art is orders of magnitude better than
where I left off.
Palomar Telescope Pyrex Mirror Blank by Corning, in the May 29, 1948, edition of
the Saturday Evening Post.
This photo was made with
my Canon S1 2S Power Shot, mounted on a tripod. 15-second exposure. 11/6/2007, 11:00
pm est. Through my 8x45 binoculars, comet Holmes appears as a very prominent smudge.
It is easily seen with the naked eye as what looks like an extra star in Perseus.
This photo of the full moon - Mars conjunction
(≈3/8°), taken December 23, 2007, captures the northernmost (highest in the sky)
full moon of the year. Earth will pass between Mars and the sun tomorrow. Mars will
not come this close to Earth again until the year 2010.
is a photo of the largest full moon of 2010. It was taken from the back yard of
my pervious house in Erie, PA. I was pretty much buried in trees there.
"Like buried treasures, the outposts of the universe have beckoned to the adventurous
from immemorial times." - George Ellery Hale
I am (Kirt Blattenberger, webmaster) with my 8" Newtonian reflector, circa 1982.
It was purchased used from an astronomy shop in Baltimore, MD. After struggling
with dragging out the tripod and doing polar alignments night after night, I finally
got smart and built this concrete block pier and ran 120 VAC to it for the clock
drive. The pier cap I custom cast out of concrete to mate the equatorial mount to
the blocks. Observation nights were greatly increased in number after doing so.
The finder is a piggybacked 2" Tasco refractor. I made a remote focusing mount for
the eyepiece using a servo from one of my other hobbies -
model airplanes and rockets.
Soon, I will scan and post some of the photos I took with it using my Minolta SLR.
There were no digital cameras in those days.
Skip ahead nearly three decades, and here
I am in my back yard in Erie, Pennsylvania, "playing" with my newly acquired (in
June) Celestron NexStar 8SE telescope. City lights are fairly bright here to the
east and west, but farm land is to the south and Lake Erie begins two miles to the
north, so that limits the light pollution somewhat. Erie is not that large of a
city, so that also helps. Still, compared to the truly dark skies in areas I have
lived in Vermont and Colorado, the seeing is noticeably bad. I haven't had a chance
to try any of the filters that came with the eyepiece and filter kit that came with
To the left is more recent image (2/9/2012)
of Jupiter. I'm getting a little better. The sky was exceptionally clear, winds
nonexistent, and the nearly full moon had not risen above the eastern horizon yet.
Jupiter was about 15° west of due south, high
in the sky. My Celestron NexImage was used with a 2x Barlow lens. The photo is a
composite of about 500 short time exposure images recorded at 5 fps. This really
helped avoid atmospheric scintillation. If I had done a better job on the focus,
the detail might have been even better. RegiStax v2 software was used.
To the right is my first ever image of Venus.
Amateur Astronomy Mfgs & Services
Greenbelt, MD Specializes in archiving and distributing collections of data that
have been published by professional astronomers. Most of these data sets are in
the form of computer-readable tables of numbers, rather than images. Amateur astronomers
can find these data collections useful in looking up the properties and locations
of celestial objects. This can help amateurs plan for observing sessions, and help
them to better understand what they've observed.
Amateur Astronomers Association
of New York
New York, NY Provides lectures, classes and observing
sessions to better enjoy astronomy, whether intellectually, aesthetically, or both.
Association of Princeton
Princeton, NJ Promotes astronomy-related
activities for members and non-members, novice to expert. A wide spectrum of astronomy
interests are explored at the AAAP through regular meetings, workshops, use of the
two club observatories, public outreach and regional star parties.
908-276-2730 / Cranford, NJ Club info & links.
Joint effort by two amateur astronomers, Joe
Roberts and Peter Chapin, includes information on a variety of topics that may be
of interest to both casual star watchers as well as experienced amateurs.
Large list of links to observatories &
Amateur Astronomy Observers Log
This site lets amateur
astronomers share their observations with each other.
Amateur CCD Astronomy
This webpage is devoted to showing examples of astrophotography that this author,
an amateur astrophotographer, has taken with the CCD - Richard Jacobs, M.D.
The American Association
of Amateur Astronomers
Dallas, TX Bringing Amateur Astronomy to
Ames Area Amateur
Ames, IA Club information & links.
Astronomes Amateurs du Luxembourg
Luxembourg Club information & links.
New Hampshire Resources & tutorials for amateur astronomers.
Links to planetarium and sky simulation
for Amateur Astronomers
The Netherlands Introduction to astronomy.
Cedar Rapids, IA Promotes the study and interest in
astronomical topics within the membership and among the public via dissemination
of knowledge and ideas through lectures, meetings, presentations, displays, discussions,
and outdoor activities, are a member society of the Astronomical League & operates
Palisades-Dows Observatory in cooperation with the Linn County Conservation Department.
Charlotte, NC Club news & astronomy information.
Our goal at Cloudy Nights is to assist amateur astronomers in better understanding
the equipment that goes with the hobby. We strive to accomplish this goal in three
ways: by providing a forum for reviews of telescopes and accessories, by providing
a forum for commentary articles on the many facets of the hobby that touch equipment,
by encouraging and sponsoring events and contests to get kids and beginners interested
in the hobby.
Delaware Valley Amateur
Philadelphia, PA Club info & links.
Edward R. Zane Planetarium
Greensboro, NC 87-seat
hall in Natural Science Center of Greensboro. Now called the
Greensboro Science Center OmniSphere.
An easy method of determining how clear your
sky is by Veikko Makela.
Canada A group of individuals dedicated to the enjoyment
and advancement of astronomy.
Ford Amateur Astronomy
Dearborn, MI Club info & links.
FotoSearch Astronomy Image Library
Waukesha, WI A
massive collection of astronomy images from, galaxies to planets to NASA images
and much more. View world-class photography and art free of charge. It is the digital,
online equivalent of a massive image library. Browsing through the library is free,
and there are no access charges, registration requirements, or usage limits.
Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical
616-897-7065 / Lowell, MI Participates in public education
activities, comet watches, meteor observing, as well as opening the observatory
to the public two nights per month. Besides the public education programs, members
involve themselves in many other pursuits from observing programs to astrophotography
and CCD imaging.
The Isle of Man
Isle of Man Promotes amateur astronomy
Center Amateur Astronomers
Florida Dedicated to the Understanding
and Knowledge of the Heavens God Made for Us to Observe.
Lehigh Valley Amateur Astronomical
610-797-3476 / Allentown PA The LVAAS is a public-oriented
nonprofit educational organization dedicated to serving the interests of the community
in astronomy and related fields. For both professionals and amateurs alike, LVAAS
has much to offer through our many programs and observing facilities.
Images from the Digitized Sky Survey
as posted on alt.binaries.pictures.astro by Richard Bright.
Wind Satellite Imagery
World Wind lets you zoom from satellite altitude
into any place on Earth. Leveraging Landsat satellite imagery and Shuttle Radar
Topography Mission data, World Wind lets you experience Earth terrain in visually
rich 3D, just as if you were really there. Virtually visit any place in the world.
Look across the Andes, into the Grand Canyon, over the Alps, or along the African
The Nine Planets
A Multimedia Tour of the Solar System: describes the history, mythology and current
scientific knowledge of each of the planets and moons and other objects in our solar
system. In addition to the usual pictures, there are also sounds, an occasional
movie and many links to other net resources. The text is written for a general audience
not necessarily knowledgeable in astronomy; technical terms are linked to an extensive
glossary by Bill Arnett.
From the Grove Creek Observatory.
North Shore Amateur Astronomy
Massachusetts Two of the principal goals of the NSAAC are to
promote a wider appreciation of astronomy and to help people choose the most appropriate
telescope or binocular for their interest and budget.
Various astronomy links.
Piedmont Amateur Astronomers
Statesville, NC A group
of individuals who meet to share an interest in astronomy and to promote astronomy
Lincoln, NE Dedicated to encouraging the study of
Astronomy and related subjects for the benefit of its members and the general public.
Bill Arnett's backyard observatory.
A group of avid amateur astronomers.
Holland, MI A not-for-profit organization
created for the purpose of furthering the enjoyment of amateur astronomy.
South Florida Amateur Astronomers
Sunrise, FL A registered non-profit educational amateur
818-354-4200 / Pasadena, CA
The Spitzer Space Telescope
(formerly SIRTF, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility) was launched into space
by a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral on 25 August 2003. Spitzer will obtain images
and spectra by detecting the infrared energy, or heat, radiated by objects in space
between wavelengths of 3 and 180 microns (1 micron is one-millionth of a meter).
Consisting of a 0.85-meter telescope and three cryogenically-cooled science instruments,
Spitzer is the largest infrared telescope ever launched into space.
Ecliptic Finder Design Plans is a design plan that shows how to build the Ecliptic
Finder. This simple instrument is a variation on the sundial. AstroCalculator© is
a calculator program for general time and astronomical calculations, conversions
and corrections and much more. OptiCalculator© is an optics and imaging calculator.
This just released tool is a full featured function set for astrophotography, whether
using CCDs or Film. It also covers basic optics for telescopes and more. Featured
in "Sky and Telescope" February 2005. Binocular Mount Design Plans is a design plan
booklet to help you build your own for $60 to $120 instead of the purchase prices
ranging from $200-$300. Easy to build and use. Fully articulated and balanced arm
for all position viewing. Sundial Calculator© is based on AstroCalculator but is
focused on just the sundial calculation, time and solar system calculations at a
lower cost for the dialist community.
Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA)
A leading centre
for astrophysical research in Australia, at The University of Sydney.
Relevant information and product reviews for stargazing freaks. Blog entries include
Must-See Stargazing Events for 2019 infographic.
Tri-Valley Stargazers (TVS) is a registered non-profit astronomy club serving the
areas in and around Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, Fremont, and Tracy, California.
Public outreach and astronomy education are promoted collectively by the club and
individually by members who present public programs and monthly meetings. Membership
is open to anyone with an interest in astronomy. Amateurs and professionals are
Tucson Amateur Astronomy
Tucson, AZ A resource for anyone interested in Astronomy.
Our mission is to nurture a person's natural curiosity about the night sky. By giving
people a knowledge and understanding of Astronomy, we enhance their enjoyment of
the solar system beyond. Through our public activities and school evening
observing sessions, we bring Astronomy to persons of all ages. Our regular meetings
and observing sessions offer members a forum to meet others with similar interests
and experiences and to learn from one another.
Twin City Amateur Astronomers
309-438-2496 / Normal, IL Club info & links.
Pictures and a bit of explanation of a couple dozen
of the more spectacular nebulae in the night sky.
A full report on a trip to the 1998 solar
eclipse in the Caribbean.
Valhalla, NY A not-for-profit organization open
to people of all ages with the desire to learn more about astronomy and who share
an interest in viewing the universe. We range from enthusiastic amateurs and educators
to casual stargazers and families.
Largest Optical Telescopes
Lists all the major optical observatories
in the world today.