The Naked Astronomer

Photo of the Naked Astronomer observatory in the snow

 

I have some acreage, an observatory, a telescope and a little bit of equipment. Nothing fancy - the observatory is little more than a modified outbuilding and I don't have the fanciest equipment and the most updated gee-whiz software applications. But I do okay with what I have, and so can you.

This site is not geared toward the professional astronomer; it's geared toward people like you and me who peer into the skies from our back yards and suburban rooftops. Please participate in the Friends with Telescopes forums and share your knowledge and questions with the rest of us.

  • Photo of open observatory

    These are my favorite photos of the observatory, wide open, powered up and ready to go. I spend… More

  • Photo of the observatory in winter

    Here is a photo of the observatory in winter. The equipment is usually left inside during the… More

  • Aerial photo of open observatory

    This is a photo take from a nearby rooftop. This shows the observatory in actual operation with… More

  • Photo of open observatory at night

    Here is a photo of how the observatory looks at night - wide open and operational!

  • Photo of landscaping around observatory

    As the observatory sits between several gardens and often has visitors, landscaping was very… More

  • Photo of 12 inch Meade LX90 on permanent pier

    Here is a photo of the observatory's first piered telescope, a 12-inch Meade LX90 telescope.

  • Photo of electrical trench to observatory

    Everything in the observatory requires electricity, from the computers to the drives, the… More

  • Photo of rolloff roof and rail design

    This shows a bit of how I designed the roof to roll back on rails. This roof has been opened… More

  • Photo of Milburn wedge mated to plate

    Here is the look at the final installation. The Milburn wedge is securely attached to the pier… More

  • Photo of Milburn wedge on custom pier plate

    To date, the observatory has only housed Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, ranging in… More

  • Photo of construction of wooden pier plate

    My father-in-law has a good wood shop, so we used it to create a custom pier plate for the… More

  • Photo of bolts in concrete pier pipe

    This is a look at the top of the pier pipe. My plan was not to use a commercial pier plate (only… More

  • Photo of pier being unloaded from truck

    Once the property was logged, I could get to the observatory shell with a truck to start… More

  • Photo of observatory in the trees

    The Pacific Northwest is richly forested, and our property was no exception. When first building… More

Al McReaken, Glendale, AZ.

In 1980, I was a mixed-up kid. My parents had just divorced and life was traumatic.  Through a local Mennonite church in Glendale, Ariz., Al McCreaken introduced me to the wonders of astronomy and gave me a sense of direction, of purpose. I remember sketching Saturn through his Celestron 8 telescope, sketches I still have today. I remember him telling me about something scientists were developing, the Hubble Space Telescope - and how wonderful it would be once it was launched. Unfortunately, Al didn't live long enough to see that dream fulfilled, but his legacy lives on through much of what I do here. It is to him that I dedicate this site.

Photo of Henry Alvin McCreaken of Glendale, Arizona.

McReaken.- Henry Alvin, was born in Sorento, Ill., Nov. 10, 1923; died of a brain tumor in Glendale, Ariz., Nov. 29, 1985; aged 62 y. On June 25, 1951, he was married to Cathyren Wagner, who survives. Also surviving are one stepdaughter (Jeannine Nolan), 4 step-grandchildren, and 3 brothers (Robert, David, and Virgil). He was a member of Trinity Mennonite Church, where memorial services were held on Dec. 1, in charge of Peter B. Wiebe; interment in Phoenix Memorial Park.

McReaken.- Cathyren Wagner, 85, Glendale, Ariz., died Dec. 23. Spouse: Al McReaken (deceased). Parents: John and Lena Wagner (deceased). Survivors: daughter Jeannine Nolan; four grandchildren; seven great-grandchilden. Funeral: Dec. 28 at Trinity Mennonite Church, Glendale.


Charles "Doc" Brooks, Port Orchard, WA.

Photo of Dr. Charles Brooks of Port Orchard, Washington

In 2006, I met Doc at a local watering hole and we developed an instant friendship. Doc was very interested in our universe and, cursed with a scientific and analytical mind, was fascinated by dark matter and black holes. Doc really enjoyed my work and was always anxious to see the latest photos. Doc passed away in February, 2007, and has been missed ever since. Along with Al McCreaken, he is fondly remembered here.

Naked! Really???

Of course not. It is all about exposure, though, and on so many levels.

Since 1978, I have been peeling back layers of the sky with optical equipment, exposing friends, family, acquaintances and strangers to the wonders that surround us. Without exception, all have been amazed at what can be seen even with the naked eye in the right conditions, provided one takes a moment to look.

Now, years later, my interest hasn't waned and has, in fact, expanded. My first love is photographing comets - the dimmer and more elusive the better! That, and imaging distant galaxies. But most importantly, I remain committed to introducing people to the heavens above and the magic contained therein.

Please participate and share your own photos as we bare new cosmic features and expose what lies far beyond our familiar, basically insignificant little planet. And feel free to drop me an email if you have any comments, questions or suggestions. I really do like hearing from you.

Photo of eclipsed sun08/17/2017 Total Solar Eclipse
We traveled far from home to witness this eclipse, ending up in a field in Ucon, Idaho, with family and friends!

 

Photo of Venus Moon conjunction01/29/2009 Venus and Moon Conjunction
Conjunctions are always fun to see, and can be a great way to introduce friends and family to the wonders in the night sky.

 

Photo of eclipsed moon02/20/2008 Total Lunar Eclipse
This was a fun and magical event. My three daughters were young and they enjoyed watching the moon darken as the Earth's shadow overtook it.

 

Photo of eclipsed moon08/28/2007 Total Lunar Eclipse
This eclipse was special to me as I had just finished construction of the observatory...