Biography and background
My interest in astronomy started at an early age, sparked by the Apollo Moon Landing program. I remember looking at the moon through my 60 mm refractor when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were bouncing on the lunar surface. Carl Sagan's vision ignited my adult enthusiasm for astronomy like gasoline on a fire when Cosmos debuted on PBS in 1980 and shortly thereafter I acquired my first 8 inch Meade SCT.
Many other telescopes followed as did two years learning how to image with a 35mm camera in time for the passing of Halley's comet in 1986. Family, kids, career and expenses, however, turned me into a spectator as amateur astronomy converted from film to CCD during the 1990's.
My fascination with imaging was rekindled during an un-planned late night tour of personal websites filled with fantastic CCD images. Images by Russell Croman, Adam Block and the Spiegelteam fired my imagination. But it was the striking pictures of Robert Gendler that convinced me to re-engage with this aspect of the hobby. It has been the most challenging, rewarding and addictive activity I have ever undertaken- far surpassing the years I spent learning software languages in my South Windsor, CT home basement at night!
Moving from Connecticut to San Jose, California in 1997, I applied my 23 years managing large corporate travel agencies into the design of industry leading, web-based travel applications such as GetThere and Rearden Commerce, for business travelers and TravelMuse, for leisure travelers.
While I am fortunate to live in an area with seemingly endless clear nights from May to October, I also have to contend with intense light pollution from the metropolitan area, a local mall and neighborhood street lights. After many months of imaging from my backyard with modest success, I began exposing pictures using remotely controlled instruments located under very dark skies in New Mexico and near Melbourne, Australia. The results were significantly improved! In late 2010, I moved my instruments from New Mexico to a new location high in the California Sierra- Nevada Mountains between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National parks.
I am a member of the Board of Directors for the annual Advanced Imaging Conference and am a former member of the Kitt Peak Visitor Center Advisory Board. I have had the honor of being asked to speak before various audiences; have been interviewed on 2NUR FM live radio broadcast from Newcastle, Australia; have written over fifty articles for the Universe Today, Sky & Telescope and the UK's AstronomyNow magazines; been featured in Wired and Discover. My images have been appeared in the journal Science, the journal Nature, on the cover of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics and several other leading astronomy magazines around the world. I received an award from the industry's leading astronomical camera manufacturer, SBIG.
In early 2011, I was awarded the Chambliss Amateur Achievement Award for 2010 by the American Astronomical Society (AAS).
In September of 2011, this image of NGC 3521, the Bubble galaxy, was selected by NASA to serve as the uncredited backdrop for the International Space Station Expedition 30 official crew portrait. A non-professional astro-photograph has been used for this purpose only one time before this.
During the fall of 2012, I was selected as one of the 25 most influential people in space by the Editors of TIME magazine.
My hope is that my skills as an imager will one day match the optical acuity of my instruments. With each new subject, I continue to learn and explore.
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