Amateur Astronomy.

I've been interested in astronomy since I was a teenager. Many start out as an amateur and occasionally some progress to professional astronomy. I stayed amateur and instead became a computer programmer, but I've happily ended up at a major professional observatory. This has enriched my hobby and allowed me to evolve in ways not available to most others. I have access to resources and people that others can never have. My interests in amateur astronomy have always been technically inclined, always building my own equipment where possible.



ATM - Amateur Telescope Making

Last updated: 2007/12/16.

I became an ATM when I was at school because I couldn't afford to buy a telescope, but have continued because I realised that I could make better ones than could be bought. Here are some of my thoughts and techniques about mirror making, telescopes, and just about everything else that has to do with the act of building something related to my hobby.

Topics covered under this heading so far are:


The Cookbook CCD camera.

Last updated: 1996/10/28.

The Cookbook CCD Camera is one that you build yourself for a fraction of the cost of a commercial camera, but without sacrificing any quality.

(At least that was the case in 1996 when it was new. These days the Cookbook CCD is somewhat dated because of its size - even so, it is still a good system if size isn't important. I did good astrometry with my camera and 8-inch telescope, as well as taking some pretty pictures. Alas, you can no longer buy the CCD chip from TI and so it has no future. Other make-it-yourself CCD systems are available, such as the Audine if you want to make your own CCD camera.)

Here I describe how I built my CCD system, and what advice I would offer prospective constructors. If you want more information about this wonderful system, then pay a visit to Richard Berry's home page.


Commercial equipment I own or use.

Last updated: 2008/04/10.

Despite making much of my equipment there are still some bits that need more resources than a single amateur can muster. The commercial CCD cameras, mountings and telescopes that I use are discussed here. Things included here are:


My CCD images.

Images updated: 2007/12/26

Here are some of my CCD images.

Page 1. Taken (mostly) with my 20-cm f/4·5 Newtonian (a couple with telephoto lenses) and Cookbook 245 CCD. First image 1994/06/02; last entry 2000/04/07.

Page 2. I've now swithched to a 30-cm f/5 Newtonian to get a better image scale but still with the Cookbook 245 CCD. First image 1999/04/09.

Page 3. The AAIS collaberation. An ST-8e attached to various telescopes and lenses. See also the northern AAIS web page of John Gleason and Steve Mandel.

Page 4. An ST-10e attached to various telescopes and lenses.

Page 5. A Canon 350D attached to various telescopes and lenses.


Image processing.

Last updated 2006/01/28.

NONE of my images has been processed by fancy software. NO fancy convolution filters have been applied. NO colour corrections have been applied to the colour images. Instead the images have been sensibly processed and scaled to show what is really there. While some software filters can be used to great effect, in general I don't believe that they are necessary. Artifacts from many filters and processing techniques make the resulting images un-real. I don't like them, and I don't (generally) use them. You can be the judge as to how well my images compare. Here I describe how I take the images and how I process them.

Note that this page was written when I only had the Cookbook CCD. The basic principals for processing images are the same for every CCD, but the commercial market has improved since then and for my ST-8 I now use a lot more commercial software rather than my old programs for processing.


Software.

Last updated: 1998/02/14.

I've developed a few programs to help me get the most from my CCD. Some are available here.


Photographs.

Last updated 2002/12/14.

Here are a few of my photos, both astronomical and otherwise (including the 2002 total eclipse of the Sun). I'm probably not going to be adding to this page as compared to my current CCD images, my old film shots are just not worth looking at. So much for old technology.


Publications.

Last updated: 2006/01/28.

Here is a list of articles I have published. They are mostly in the Australian SKY & SPACE Magazine but there are a few others.


My comet.

Last updated: 1999/08/23.

I've discovered a comet - 1999 H1. Here's the story and some pictures.


home to ATM to CCD to images#1 to images#2 to images#3 to processing to software to astrophotos to publications to comet


E-mail any comments to me at sl@aaocbn.aao.gov.au

Page last updated 2009/08/08
Steven Lee