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astronomy, telescopes, instrumentation max reason

introduction

I became interested in astronomy and telescopes when I was 8 years old.  Since then I've spent much of my personal and professional life pursuing those interests.  I spent thousands of hours observing the night sky with my eyes, photographic film, CCDs, photometers, spectrographs, etc.  I've designed, built and operated many kinds of optics, telescopes and other astronomical and scientific instrumentation.  During this process, I developed many complementary skills and experience, including:

expertise

astronomy
observation
photometry
spectroscopy
interferometry
optics design
optics testing
optics fabrication
telescope design
telescope operation
telescope automation
mechanical design
mechanical fabrication
metal/glass machining
instrumentation design
instrumentation fabrication
instrumentation automation
image sensors/cryogenics
data/image acquisition
data/image compression
data/image processing/analysis/reduction
still and video photography
emulsion and CCD astronomical photography
emulsion and CCD emulsion pre-treatment / hypersensitization
monochrome/color photographic processing

The above list only mentions skills directly related to astronomy and telescopes.  The rest of my web-site summarizes my other areas of expertise, many of which support the above list.  For example, I needed my electronics design, computer design, and computer programming skills to automate telescopes and instrumentation and perform data/image processing.

I added a few images to this page.  The selection is poor, but unfortunately these are all the photos immediately available to me here and now - most are still in California and Tucson.  You can click on any of these small images to see a larger version.

 

8" f/5.6 simak telescope12" f/5 simak telescope The left-hand image is my 8" f/5.6 prototype simak astrographic telescope, the first ever built.  The right-hand image is a 12" f/5 simak I designed for astroworks corporation, which they manufactured and sold for several years.  I invented this optical configuration for high-resolution, medium-format, medium-scale deep-sky photography.  The simak produces diffraction limited images over a 3+ degree diameter flat focal plane from ~3650 to 10140.  See these 10" f/6.3 Simak specifications for a great design to build, including optics and baffle layout, aberration graphs, wavefront-interference images, and spot-diagram images.

 

This is the optical layout of a simak astrographic telescope optical system, displayed by one of my optical design programs.  Parallel light enters from left to right, passes through a meniscus lens, then reflects off the primary mirror, then reflects off the secondary mirror, then passes through a thin field-corrector lens near the film plane.  All optical surfaces are spherical, which greatly simplifies fabrication and testing.  Sample light-rays are drawn green, lens surfaces are drawn cyan, mirror surfaces are drawn yellow, vertical red lines are the ends of baffle tubes, and the flat focal surface is drawn grey at the far right.  A wide variety of simaks have been designed and built, from a 2" f/2 spectrograph camera to 8", 12", 20" f/6 photo-visual astrographs.

 

This is a drawing of a simidt astrographic telescope optical system, displayed by one of my optical design programs.  I invented this optical configuration for high-resolution, medium-format, medium-scale deep-sky photography.  Parallel light enters from left to right, passes through a BK7 schmidt-plate, then reflects off the spherical primary mirror, then reflects off the hyperbolic secondary mirror, then passes through spherical SF11 and BK7 lenses a few inches in front of the flat film plane.  Sample light-rays are drawn green, lens surfaces are drawn cyan, mirror surfaces are drawn yellow, the vertical red lines are the ends of baffle tubes, and the flat focal plane is drawn grey at the far right.  Simidt optics produce near diffraction limited images over the entire 3+ degree flat field.  The field corrector lens is far enough from the film plane for 35mm SLR cameras with flip-up mirrors on 5" aperture instruments, and 6x7cm SLR cameras with flip-up mirrors on 8" or 9" instruments.  Several simidt astrographic telescopes and telephotos have been built, including twin 24" f/6 instruments that produce diffraction limited images over an 8" diameter field.

 

This is a drawing of a hexagon astrographic lens optical system, displayed by one of my optical design programs.  I invented the hexagon optical configuration for high-resolution, large-format, medium-scale deep-sky photography.  Parallel light enters from left to right, passes through FCD-10N, ZK-N7, SF-11, BK-7 lenses on its way to the flat film plane.  Sample light-rays are drawn green, lens surfaces are drawn cyan, and the flat focal plane is drawn grey at the far right.  Hexagon optics produce diffraction limited images over the 8+ degree field diameter.

 

This is a drawing of my good glass apochromat optical system, displayed by one of my optical design programs.  Parallel light enters from left to right, passes through BaLK-N3, SF18, SF11 lenses, and comes to a focus far off the right end of the drawing.  Sample light-rays are drawn green, lens surfaces are drawn cyan, and the focal surface is far to the right.   I named this optical configuration the "good glass apochromat" because all three lenses are made of relatively cheap, easy-to-work glasses that are not particularly prone to stain or damage by water or weak acids.  Other apochromats have one or more elements made from expensive and/or water/acid sensitive glass.  At least one 8" f/12 good glass apochromat was constructed, and probably many more.  An apochromat is a lens that is corrected for three colors, or in other words, brings three wavelenghts to a common focus.

 

This is a drawing of my super-apochromat optical system, displayed by one of my optical design programs.  Parallel light enters from left to right, passes through FN-11, C96-36, BaK-5 lenses, and comes to a focus far off the right end of the drawing.  Sample light-rays are drawn green, lens surfaces are drawn cyan, and the focal surface is far to the right.  I named this optical configuration the "super-apochromat" because it is corrected for five colors instead of three like conventional apochromats.  An apochromat is a lens that is corrected for three colors, or in other words, brings three wavelenghts to a common focus.

 

A negative photograph of the veil nebula complex in Cygnus taken with a simak telescope, showing the entire 3+ degree diameter field.  I took most of my monochrome simak photos on the very high-resolution hypersensitized 2415 film because well guided simak photos in good seeing conditions record 15u to 20u images across the entire field.  I took most of my color simak photos on hypersensitized Fujichrome 50 and Fujichrome 100 film for similar reasons.   I developed Fujichrome slide film as a negative, however, because color rendition and dynamic range were superior, and because my goal was usually to create large display transparencies on translucent Kodak Duratrans, which produces a negative of the original.

 

A negative photograph of the north american nebula complex in Cygnus taken with a simak telescope, showing the entire 3+ degree field.  Ditto the above comments.

 

Photographs of the whirlpool galaxy taken with an f/6 simak telescope showing the full 3+ degree field, then blowups of smaller parts of the field.  Click each images to see it larger.

 

A photograph of the lagoon / trifid nebulae complex in Sagittarius taken with a simak telescope, showing the entire 3+ degree field.  The second image zeros in on the lagoon nebula.

 

The CAT console with all displays and legends illuminated for illustration purposes only.  The CAT is a "computer aided telescope" accessory I developed in 1986 for small portable and observatory telescopes.  The CAT tracks and displays telescope position, contains my detailed CNGC database of 7840 deep-sky objects and 351 stars, identifies objects in the field of view, automatically selects objects based upon observer specifications, guides telescope to objects quickly & accurately, etc.  I also developed a similar CCT device that slews, positions, centers and guides the telescope.  Both devices interface to external computers to support unlimited expansion of capabilities and special purpose remote control.

 

The CAT attached to a Meade 10" f/6.3 schmidt-cassegrain telescope.

 

The CAT attached to a Celestron 8" f/10 schmidt-cassegrain telescope.

 

A light-hearted ad for the CAT in March 1987 Sky and Telescope magazine.

 

chews01c50 Near the right end of the photo is the observatory where I lived, worked and observed for 7 years.   The vertical tower of the windmill power generator is barely visible slightly to the left of the observatory.  The solar panels and backup power generator hut are not visible.

 

The 36" aperture f/10 cassegrain telescope at the mira observatory on chews ridge - see image above.  The primary research instruments are liquid nitrogen cooled solid-state spectrographs, partially visible extending below the cassegrain focus.

 

tucson03ssss.jpg (4102 bytes) A photograph of Tucson taken fifteen years ago.  My former home is the foreground house ringed by red lights.  The road in the upper left going south into the city is Swan.

 

A photograph from the back yard of my home in Tucson taken fifteen years ago.  This one photograph contains star-trails, clouds, sunset, lightning, saguaro cactus, city-lights, the streak of a passing plane.

 


astronomy extensive knowledge/experience in observational astronomy, good knowledge of general astronomy
telescopes extensive knowledge/experience in the design and operation of professional telescopes and instrumentation
mechanics extensive knowledge/experience in the mechanical design of professional telescopes and instrumentation
optics extensive knowledge/experience in optical design, optical fabrication, optical testing / interferometry
photography extensive knowledge/experience in conventional / astronomical / technical photography and darkroom techniques
instrumentation extensive knowledge/experience with photographic and CCD cameras and spectrographs, photometers, etc ...
programming extensive knowledge/experience with computer programming - microcode, ASMs, C, C++, FORTRAN, Java, XBasic ...
computers extensive knowledge/experience with computer hardware - hardware design, programming, integration, interfacing
robotics extensive knowledge/experience with robotics, telescope and instrument control, data-image acquisition and analysis
electronics extensive knowledge/experience with digital and analog electronic design, prototyping, debugging

astronomy

I have spent thousand of hours operating telescopes under the night sky.  Most of this time was spent taking data for various astronomy research projects, or installing/testing/optimizing instruments, or experimenting with data-acquisition/processing/analysis techniques.

The following table lists some of my projects.  I have taken data for other projects too, but in those cases I was simply taking data for astronomer-researchers, not participating in scientific analysis or inference from the data in any significant way.

UBVY photo-electric photometry of flare-stars 24" Tinsley cassegrain, UBVY photometer
long-exposure photography to recover lost asteroids 24" Tinsley cassegrain, 4"x5" 103aF glass plates
miscellaneous experimental spectrography 22" cassegrain, astronomical glass plates to cut
spectro-photometry of flare-stars and planetary nebulae 36" DFM cassegrain, cryo-cooled CCD spectrograph
photography to discover asteroids in earth-sun L4 / L5 36" DFM cassegrain, hypersensitized 4"x5" 103aF and 2415 film
CCD photography to discover asteroids in earth-sun L4 / L5 14" schmidt-cassegrain, my CCT controller, cryo-CCD camera
observe and rate all 7800 objects in my CNGC catalog 14" schmidt-cassegrain, my CCT controller, recorder
high-resolution wide-field astrographic telescope work 12" f/5 simak, 4"x5" hypersensitized 2415, IIIaF, FujiColor, etc

telescopes

I am a telescope expert.  I have spent thousands of hours operating dozens of different telescopes, from portable telescopes to 1-meter research telescopes at professional observatories.  Furthermore, I have designed, built, automated and tested a wide variety of telescopes, optics, and related instrumentation, which gives me a thorough theoretical and practical understanding of every aspect of telescopes, optics, instrumentation, automation.  See the mechanics, optics, instrumentation, robotics sections below for details.  This section only describes my experience operating telescopes.

personal compatibility Probably because I have observed the night sky a large percentage of my life, I am a natural "night owl".  Even when I do not observe for two or three months, I tend to stay up and work until the "wee hours".
physical compatibility I have excellent night vision, tolerance to the rigors and inconveniences of observatory environments, and an appreciation of relative or complete solitude.  I "feel at home" at mountaintop observatories.  I lived, worked, and observed at a professional observatory for 7 years before I moved to Maui 7 years ago.  Unlike Mauna Kea, there was only one observatory on the remote mountaintop, and quite often I was completely alone for days or weeks - which I enjoyed.  I operated the telescope, gathered and reduced data, maintained the observatory and telescope and instrumentation, designed and developed new optics, electronics and instrumentation.
visual observing I have extensive experience observing directly through telescopes.  A few telescopes I've operated were equipped for viewing on video monitors, but most weren't.  So direct viewing was usually the only way to acquire and guide.  I have good night-vision and lots of experience with "adverted vision", so I was able to locate, identify, and guide-on stars as faint as 16th magnitude with the off-axis guider on the 36" telescope specto-photometer.  I have manually guided exposures and integrations up to 4 hours duration.  With a 14" telescope I observed all 7800 deep-sky objects in the CNGC (computerized new general catalog) I created and integrated into the CCT (computer controlled telescope) and CAT (computer aided telescope) products I developed.  In 1986 I took my 14" CCT telescope to Australia to observe the southern objects (mostly near Ayers Rock).
photography I have taken hundreds of astronomical photographs over the years - through a variety of cameras, telescopes and astrographs - with exposures from seconds to 4 hours - from 35mm to 8"x10" - with film and plates (IIa?, IIIa?, 103a?, 2415, FujiColor, many-more) - dry-ice / liquid-nitrogen cooled and hypersentized - slow-developed and pushed - etc.   I developed techniques to generate huge, gorgeous backlit color "display transparencies" of deep-sky objects on Kodak duratrans material.
CCD photography I have created hundreds of astronomical images with cryo-cooled CCDs over the years, both conventional 2-D images of objects and 1-D images of spectra.  I have written programs to scan the devices; download the data to computers; process the raw signal to remove dark-noise, fixed-pattern noise, scaling errors and other identifiable aspects of the sensor and experimental instrumentation; merge or assemble images; identify, compare and catalog objects; auto-track objects; display/print images and statistical results; etc.
photometry I have taken UBVY / UBVYRI photometry of flare-stars, planetary-nebulae, and other objects.
spectrography I have taken photographic spectra of all types of stars, planetary-nebulae, and other objects.
spectrophotometry I have taken spectrophotometry of flare-stars, planetary-nebulae, and other objects.  The spectrograph forms its image on cryo-cooled CCDs that are controlled and image-captured by my remote computer.

mechanics

I am good at general mechanical design, but I can design telescopes and telescope instrumentation particularly well because I understand the issues very well, and because I have been thinking about and experimenting with telescope and instrumentation design for decades.  For several years I had my own precision machine shop, and I even made a few patterns and poured my own aluminum castings.  I especially enjoyed machining glass-like materials (BK7, quartz, zerodur, etc) because I can make far more accurate and durable parts with these materials than with any metal.  I have significant experience designing astronomical instrumentation and understand the special problems involved (operate in wide temperature ranges, operate in variable/moving physical orientations, etc).  I understand the consequences of mechanical errors and instabilities on astronomical instrumentation because I understand issues like telescope resolution, instrument / sensor resolution, temperature expansion effects, and the relationships between angular and linear errors throughout the telescope and its instrumentation.

general mechanical design good
telescope mechanical design excellent
instrument mechanical design very good

optics

I am an expert in astronomical, telescope, photographic and spectrographic optics.

optics design I wrote my first optical design program in high-school.  Over the years I've enhanced its capabilities and made several special-purpose versions.  My general-purpose optics program handles lenses, mirrors and vignetting stops; spherical, aspheric, and schmidt corrector-plates surfaces; on-axis and off-axis tracing and computation; complete graphical display of aberrations and dependencies; geometric and wavefront-interference images.  With the aid of my optical design programs, I invented several important new optical configurations, including the simak, the simidt, the hexagon and super-hexagon, field-correctors for several existing optical systems, spectrograph cameras, ultra-achromatic lenses (ultra-low chromatic aberration from 3650A to 10140A), good-glass-apochromats, super-apochromats (5 colors corrected with 3 lenses), wide-spectrum photographic camera lenses, etc.   Some of the optical configurations I've invented are on my optics page.
optics testing I know how to test optical systems to accuracies of 1/20 to 1/200 wave - flat surfaces, spherical surfaces, aspheric surfaces, schmidt-plates, etc.  I am familiar with focault test, caustic test, ronchi test, interference tests, interferometer tests, etc.  I built several interferometers for optical testing, and invented techniques to reproduce the crucial scatterplate portion of scatterplate interferometers with microfilm to reduce the time, effort, and cost of making these instruments.
optics fabrication I have fabricated dozens of lenses and mirrors from 2" to 26" diameter, with spherical and aspheric surfaces, from conventional and exotic materials - including fluorite lenses and a stainless steel mirror.  I invented and developed techniques that convert spherical mirror and lens surfaces into diffraction-limited aspheric surfaces by vapor-deposition of the mirror/lens material in the same vacuum-tank that later applies reflective / anti-reflective coatings.

photography

. . . later . . .

conventional conventional still photography with 35mm, 6x7cm, 4"x5" and digital cameras
digital video digital video photography with Sony DV-1000, image capture and processing with DV300 in PC
astronomical cooled-emulsion, hypersensitized-emulsion, cryogenic-cooled CCD
darkroom process conventional, technical and astronomical emulsions, hypersensitization, display-transparencies

instrumentation

. . . later . . .

photometers
spectrographs
spectrophotometers
interferometers

programming

. . . later . . .

telescope automation
data/image processing
C++, Java, XBasic, assembly-language, microcode
UNIX, Windows98/NT

computers

. . . later . . .

microprocessors microcontrollers I designed several microprocessor based devices - computer system based on Z80 uP, instrumentation controllers based upon 6800, Z80, 8052, i960, 88000 uPs.
microprogrammed computer-controllers I designed several microprogrammed devices - minicomputer CPUs, disk controllers, mag-tape controller, video-terminal controller, FFT processor for medical ultra-sound equipment, etc.

robotics

. . . later . . .

CCT CCT = Computer Controlled Telescope
CAT CAT = Computer Aided Telescope
instrumentation

electronics

. . . later . . .


copyright 1988-2001 - all rights reserved - patents pending