|FRANK'S ASTRONOMY STORY:
I have been interested in space and astronomy for as long as I can remember. My first telescope was a 50mm refractor form K-Mart. I spent many hours looking at the moon with that little scope. That was soon followed up by a 3" (7.5cm) Newtonian reflector. I couldn't get that scope to focus on anything astronomical. As with so many young astronomers with a "department store" telescope, frustration soon set in. (I still have the primary mirror from that telescope). When Halley's Comet came around in 1986 my interest was briefly rekindled. I spent many hours taking photo's of the place in the sky where Halley's comet was supposed to be even though I never actually saw it. As it were, I took many photos and slides that may or may not have had a comet in them.
Then in October of 1990 something remarkable happened. I had my first real dark sky experience 25 miles outside of Traverse City Michigan. I estimate that Zenithal Limiting Magnitude was 6.8 to 7.0 that night. The sky was a rich velvet black with a Milky Way that ran from horizon to horizon. I remember laying down on a dirt road (hoping that car wouldn't come along and flatten me) looking up at the star fields.
Like so many others though, My interest was heightened by the sudden visit of Comet C/1996 B2 Hyakutake in 1996. I soon found myself out on cold nights taking pictures of the northern sky. And of course a year later Comet C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp made its way across the sky. That summer another trip to the area outside Traverse City convinced me that I was hooked. A beautiful day was spent in a hammock reading and researching telescopes and my nights where spent laying in the grass looking out at the Milky Way with an inexpensive pair of binoculars.
Two months later I purchased a used 10" Meade LX6. After some dialing in and tweaking it revealed some great views. I've easily seen the six stars of the Trapezium, split Epsilon Lyra's four stars, and on one incredible night saw Saturn with detail that compared with much more famous images.
I live in West Bloomfield Michigan the light pollution is bad enough (ZLM ~4.5) that I have never been able to see the Milky Way from my back yard. The more and more I observe, the more I'm convinced that the seeing around here is really poor, about the time I'm ready to blame my scope a better night comes along. I really get envious of those of you who live under dark skies and have more then two nights of good seeing a year! To compensate I often try to get away to northern Michigan where at least it is relatively dark.
I consider myself to be a learning astrophotographer. I hope that my astrophotography efforts can match my other efforts someday. I struggeled with a lack of essential equipement (like an illuminated reticle, guide scope, and time) and now that these items have been aquired (well, all except for time) I hope to show more & more improved images. I hope you will follow my progress...
In the mean time I hope that you will look around my site. If you are looking for a new telescope orwishing to get into astrophotography or just want to see some photos, check out the following links.