S p e a k e r s

Under Construction

(alphabetically listed)

Wade Barbin and Flacc Stifel  are members of the AAAP and Associate Directors of the organization's Nicholas E. Wagman Observatory.  Wade has had professional optical experience with 3B Optical and C. P. Goertz Electro Optical Division.  Wade was involved with the 11-Inch Brashear Telescope restoration project from its inception, while Flacc joined the team later and helped with building expansion and scope installation.  Both men were central figures in the restoration of the 1908 Brashear Refractor.  

Mel Bartels  A member of the space age generation, Mel Bartels  has been looking "up" since the 1960s.  Interests in deep sky observing and cold camera astrophotography turned to large thin mirror grinding when he met John Dobson in 1980, and was given a night on John's 24".  Mel has ground mirrors up to 30" in size, and leads mirror making classes, including a Telescope Optics Workshop in Bellingham Washington where half a dozen people figured 16" mirrors.  Mel ran the Amateur Telescope Makers listserv for six years, a worldwide group dedicated to sharing and advancing the art of telescope making.  For the past fifteen years, Mel has worked on computer control of motorized telescopes, and developed a freely distributed control system that in use worldwide.  In addition, Mel continues developing innovative mounting designs.  Recently the International Astronomical Union honored Mel by naming asteroid 17823 Bartels for his contributions to amateur astronomy.  A former musician and teacher, Mel supports himself during the day developing business applications.

Mel will be making two presentations: "Ultralight Telescopes of the Pacific Northwest With New Mount Designs".  Amateurs often must travel significant distances to reach dark skies.  A cadre of TMs from all over the world and particularly in the pacific northwest have been pushing the boundaries of transportable, ultra-lightweight, and quickly assembled scopes.  We'll describe the latest conceptions and the ideas behind them.  Additionally, with the advent of digital imaging, rare mounting types invented during the past century may be more suitable than currently popular mountings.  We'll brainstorm how these mounts might be updated for a new generation of telescope users. "Large Thin Mirror Grinding".  One of the greatest thrills in amateur astronomy is to grind your own mirror, then use it to discover the heavens above.  Imagine capturing distance starlight with a mirror that you ground yourself!  We'll talk about how to grind large thin mirrors of 16 inches to 40 inches, what glass, what materials, the latest ideas in mirror making, new thinking with mirror mounts, and gingerly dip our toe into the pool of evaluating optics.

Roger Blake  of TAURUS Technologies  has been an amateur astronomer specializing in 35mm film astrophotography for 30+ years.  He is a graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia with a degree in Physics.  Roger has spent 20 years in nuclear core physics analysis in support of many of the nuclear power plants around the country.  In 1994 Roger founded TAURUS Technologies, specializing in astrophoto equipment for amateurs.

 Roger will conduct a hands-on demonstration/workshop of astrophotography methods and equipment.  This is a FREE workshop.  Star party attendees may participate either actively, or as observers.  TAURUS Technologies will provide the astrophoto equipment, or attendees may bring their own.  The objective is to provide the equipment and hands-on training to allow a novice participant to take astrophotos during the star party.  The workshop is not a single scheduled event.  It is a continuous informal, interactive activity during the entire star party.  Roger will be available on the observing field to help/advise participants on basic issues such as polar alignment, night sky navigation, focusing, target and guide star aquisition, exposures, etc.   For a more detailed description of the workshop
Click Here.  TAURUS Technologies will provide astrophoto equipment (flip mirrors, off-axis guiders, 35mm cameras) at no charge, for use during the show, but quantities are limited so register early to reserve the equipment you will need.
 Contact Roger Blake for questions or to register.   

Tom Crowley  is currently President Emeritus of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA).  After serving 5 Years as President, Tom lead an extremely successful international amateur project that detected comet SL/9 impacts into Jupiter at decametric frequencies.  Tom recently retired from a forty-year career in IT and international telecommunications.  He started his career as an Engineer at IBM and moved into Sales Engineering and management.  Then during the Telecomm boom of the 90's Tom worked in various management capacities outsourcing IT and building a European Fiber network.  Tom and his wife Lynn live in Atlanta, GA.  Since retirement they are enjoying traveling in their RV and spending time with radio and astro imaging at their vacation home in the Chiefland Astronomy Village  Tom will be presenting "Amateur Radio Astronomy - Searching for Life Among the Stars".  With the rapid downward change in electronics costs today it is possible for the amateur radio astronomer to do real science with a small radio telescope.  Tom will discuss a brief history of radio astronomy, an introduction to the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence through radio astronomy and a few SETI projects that an amateur can do at home.

Art Glaser  is a retired senior high school science teacher who has served for the past 22 years as Allegheny Observatory's Historical Consultant.  During this time Art researched many questions and projects for professional astronomers from around the world.  He also conducted countless tours of the Allegheny Observatory.  Art will be presenting "The History of Allegheny Observatory from 1860 - 2004".  While Art's presentation will show many slides illustrating the instruments of and changes in the observatory from its founding to today, he will also emphasize some of the critical research conducted at Allegheny Observatory, including: the solar research of Langley, the planetary research of Keeler, Schlesinger's initiation of the observatory's primary, permanent research project, that of stellar parallax.  The continuation of this work by other Allegheny astronomers and their major discoveries will also be examined.   

Dr. Steele Hill  has been the media specialist for SOHO since 1996.  Steele has a Ph.D. in English and supported graphics production and training at the U.S. House of Representatives for 15 years.  At Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, he has produced most of the outreach and educational materials for SOHO, including illustrations, CDs, posters, brochures, video clips, and web-based materials, like the SOHO Weekly Pick and the Best of SOHO.

Steele will be presenting "The Sun through the Eyes of SOHO".
 SOHO is the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a spacecraft mission operated jointly by NASA and the European Space Agency.  The presentation will give an overview of the mission, explain what we know about the Sun and the solar cycle, and showcase SOHO’s best images and video clips as well as resources from ground-based solar observatories and other NASA missions.   

John Holtz  is the current Treasurer of the AAAP and a longtime member of the organization.  John has been enjoying the night sky for over 20 years.  Factors such as growing up in a small community, enjoying the evening on the back deck, and a scientific curiosity combined to draw his attention to the night sky.  In between his "serious" pursuits of variable stars and occultations, Holtz enjoys astrophotography and watching for man-made satellites.  His observing experiences cover a wide spectrum of events: solar eclipses, transits, comets (in the Earth’s sky and crashing into Jupiter), aurora borealis, meteor showers, grazing and asteroidal occultations, man-made satellites (in Earth orbit and solar orbit), novae and supernovae, nice lunar conjunctions, and so many other wonderful sights of the universe.  For the Beginner's Class, he will step back to his early observing days to help explain to newcomers how to understand the night sky, and what to expect when observing with the unaided eyes and binoculars.     

Dr. Noam Izenberg  Ph.D. (Earth and Planetary Sciences - Washington University), of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.   Noam will be discussing the MESSENGER mission to Mercury, which should launch in the first half of May.

Dr. Karen Jensen  PhD, is a physical chemist/chemical physicist with the Physical Chemistry Division, Department of Chemistry University of Florida Gainesville, FL., where she is currently conducting research in Plasma Physics and Astrochemistry.  Karen 'grew up' in the Space Program on Florida's east coast as her father was an electrical engineer on all the Saturn V/Apollo moon missions.  Karen worked for Lockheed Space Operations Company in the mid-80's, where she supervised engineering and technical support personnel and directed on-line payload processing, integration, and testing activities inside the Space Shuttles at the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF), Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), and Launch Pads 39-A & 39-B Payload Change-Out Rooms (PCR). She worked nine Space Shuttle missions, including Challenger's last four and was a member of the first damage inspection team to enter Launch Pad B after the Challenger accident, representing Orbiter Engineering.  Karen is previous member of the AAAP and is currently Vice-President of the Alachua Astronomy Club in Gainesville, Florida, and an active member of SARA, where with Tom Crowley, she co-teach's the Basic Radio Astronomy Course to new SARA members at the Green Bank NRAO each summer.  Karen will present "Introduction to Amateur Radio Astronomy", a presentation on basic radio astronomy, along with a demonstration of the NASA supported and internet-based 'Radio Jove Project' for solar and Jovian radio observations in the decametric RF region.

Mark Kochte  is a Science Operations Specialist with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.  When he's not working with Hubble data, Mark might be involved with a team of astronomers searching for low mass companions around nearby stars, working with the spacecraft occulter design project, UMBRAS, or he might be found out in the wilderness somewhere climbing something.  Mark is currently part of a team of people who are using the Hubble to study extra-solar planets.  Mark will update us on this research and will also, of course, thrill everyone with the latest version of his very popular Hubble Update presentation  

"The Hubble Space Telescope Universe Tour"  For over 14 years the Hubble Space Telescope has been witness to universal extremes.  From its birth pangs, its flawed mirror, and perpetual problems with the gyros, to hosting the most technologically advanced camera ever to be put in space to date.  From examining surface detail of the nearby planet Mars, to picking out galaxies near the edge of the known universe.  Through all this, the Hubble Space Telescope has become an international icon of humanity's exploration of the universe around us.  During its tenure in space, the Hubble has churned out terabyte after terabyte of data every year, unlocking mysteries of the universe that no one had ever dreamed existed - and discovering a myriad of new ones along the way.  Join us on a trip of intergalactic proportions as Indy leads you the nearest neighbors of Earth, to the farthest reaches of the known universe.

(program revision)
"The Future of Hubble"?  Given the dynamic nature about the future of Hubble, Mark would like to bring people up to speed on it's current status (as current as he can get it,anyway!) for the future.   This will be an informative and interesting presentation to folks concerned about Hubble's fate.   

David J Lane  has been an active amateur astronomer since the early 1980s, a life member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), and a past-president of the Halifax, Nova Scotia Chapter RASC.   David is employed as an Astronomy Technician and Computer Systems Administrator at the Department of Astronomy and Physics at Saint Mary's University.   Dave will be giving two talks at StarCruise.  The first will be about the trials, tribulations, and rewards of his last 12 years of developing astronomy software for amateurs - specifically 'Earth Centered Universe' (ECU), a planetarium and telescope control program used by thousands of amateurs around the world.  For developing ECU, Dave was awarded the Chant Medal (1996) of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the highest award for amateur contributions to astronomy in Canada.  The second talk will about the designing and building of his own backyard observatory which will be used for amateur research projects.  He will also describe a program of searching for extragalactic supernovae that begin last fall with Paul Gray.  Dave, along with Paul Gray, were the first (and still only) Canadians to discover a supernova (1995F in NGC 2726) from within Canada - this occurring in February of 1995.   

Larry McHenry  co-chair of the LHSC, and past President of the AAAP, lives in the South Hills community of Baldwin, and currently works in downtown Pittsburgh as a computer programmer.  He has been active in amateur astronomy as a hobby for over 25 years.  One of Larry's favorite astronomy activities is sketching deep-sky objects.  He's had several sketches published in 'Astronomy' and 'The Observers Guide' magazines, and is listed in the contributors section of the new hardbound book "The Night's Sky Observers Guide" written by AAAP members George Kepple and Glen Sanner.  Larry has designed his own personal website on astronomical sketching.  He received a merit award for astronomical artwork at the 18th annual 'Apollo Rendezvous' in Dayton, Ohio, and completed his AAAP Messier Certificate by sketching the entire Messier catalog.  Since 1991, Larry has developed an interest in solar observing and sketching sunspots.  He is a past contributor to the AAVSO's sunspot counting program, and received an observing award from them in October 1999.  Recently, Larry has become involved with video astronomy and has developed a website for beginners. "Video Astronomy"   

Dr. Robert Novack   Amateur Telescope Maker and Stellafane award winner, worked in industry as a technical manager for over 20 years in the Pittsburgh area.  His formal training is in physical chemistry however his interest in telescopes and telescope building started over 15 years ago and has resulted in over a dozen telescopes of various sizes and design.  Bob is presently semi-retired and teaches science and mathematics at Butler County Community College.

Bob will be presenting: "SHOULD YOU THINK ABOUT BUILDING YOUR OWN TELESCOPE?"  What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a project?  We will discuss what is involved, beginning with the simplest approach to the various levels possible.  You will be able to determine the level, if any, that pertains to you.  Making a telescope can be done as a parent/child or family project.  It will allow you to have optical performance that goes beyond commercial specifications.  It will allow individuality in design that is not available from manufacturers.   There are many possibilities.  You decide.   

Ron Ravneberg  is an amateur astronomer, telescope maker and long-time member of the Columbus Astronomical Society.  An amateur astronomer since the 1950s, he is a past president of both the Seattle and Columbus astronomical societies.  While he can't spell CCD, he does know into which end of the telescope you look, and spends his astro-time enjoying the quiet pleasures of the night sky.  Ron will be presenting "The Good Old Days - Amateur Astronomy: 1950-1965", a look back at the times before CCDs, GoTo telescopes, digital setting circles, large Dobsonians, and many of the other conveniences today's amateurs take for granted.  For some, the presentation will be a walk down memory lane; for others, it may provide some insight into what inspired some of the old-timers (the speaker included) to get started in amateur astronomy and what resources were available to them at the time.  Ron's presentation will pack over 300 images of telescopes, publications, old advertisements and other miscellany into a look back at those "thrilling days of yesteryear."

Reverend Bill Roemer  a dedicated observer of the heavens and a longtime member of the AAAP.  Bill will be presenting: "Revelation vs. Reason: Can Theology and Science Be Partners?"    

Kerry Smith  has have been doing amateur radio astronomy since 1990.  He has served as vice president and two terms as a board director for the SARA organization. (Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers).  Kerry also served as the founding president of the York County Parks Astronomical Society which is now the York County Astronomical Society.  Kerry's will be presenting "Finding a new (or near new moon) using amateur radio astronomy tecniques".  Additionally, Kerry will be demonstrating a 1 meter dish radio telescope and a total power radiometer built using a simple satellite dish alignment meter.

Dr. Terry Trees  is a life-long amateur astronomer whose main observing interests include solar prominences, nebulae, globular clusters, galaxies, asteroids and the planets Mars, Saturn and Uranus.  He ground, polished and figured an 8" f/8 and a 12.5" f/3.86 mirror and has built several telescopes ranging in size from 6" to 12.5".  His current scope, a 17.5" f/4.5 Dob was built by a friend and provides wonderful views of globular clusters.  Terry is a member of several astronomical organizations:  The Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh (AAAP),  The Kiski Astronomers,  The Oil Region Astronomical Society,  The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.  Terry is the current Chairman of the LHSC, and has also served as President, Vice President, and Corresponding Secretary of the AAAP, and served as Vice President of the Kiski Astronomers.  Terry teaches astronomy part-time for Waynesburg College and emphasizes the history of astronomy in his courses.  His favorite historical subjects are the astronomical discoveries of the ancient Greeks.  Employed as a computer networking engineer, Terry will present a review of various astronomical software packages to assist beginners with their first selections and will review techniques used to involve children in astronomy.