Michael A. Stecker


Russell Croman
Austin, Texas

Contact information
or emails see

Locator Map
Level of accuracy: City of Austin, Texas, USA

see: http://www.rc-astro.com/about.htm

I live in suburban Austin, Texas with my wife and two daughters, and it is here where I do most of my imaging. Occasionally I will pack up my equipment and head for darker skies, either at my local astronomy club's dark-sky site, or off to a gathering such as the Texas Star Party.

For my "day job," I am a chip designer for a local company, Silicon Laboratories. Currently I'm working on radio chips for cell phones. My engineering background contributes greatly to my work in astrophotography, as this is a very technical art. There are what seems like a million little details, all of which have to be right for an imaging session to really be productive. Being versed in physics and electronics comes in very handy when it's time to debug one of those details.

I studied electrical engineering at Washington State University, eventually earning a Master of Science degree. While I was there, one of my non-engineering activities included being a news and sports photographer for the student newspaper. It was there that I got my feet wet in photography and gained a sense for composition and the various other elements that go into making a good photograph. Although almost all of my work at the newspaper was with traditional film and darkroom techniques, digital processing of images was just appearing on the scene as well. From my viewpoint as both a photographer and an engineering student, the potential that digital imaging offered was incredible, even with the rudimentary tools we had at the time.  For me, astrophotography is a perfect blend of the very technical and the very aesthetic, both of which I love.

No description of my life would be complete without at least a mention of the real guiding force in it, which is my chosen faith, Scientology. I have been a Scientologist since 1994, shortly after I moved to Austin. Through studying and applying the principles of this philosophy to my life, I have learned what for me has been the most important lesson of all... that the real meaning in our lives is the meaning that we ourselves give it. Scientology provides the means by which anyone can create that meaning for themselves, and expand their lives to bring real help and joy to others.

Astrophotography publications
     For a complete list with images see:
Sky and Telescope, Star Observer, Portal do Astrónomo, Le Stelle Magazine, Wiedza i Życie (Polish), National Geographic,
TIME Magazine, SmartMoney Magazine, Austin American Statesman

Other publications/awards
Astronomy Picture of the Day (several times), Space.com
Image of the Day, Best Astrophotograph, 2003
Texas Star Party, Best CCD Photograph, 2003
Texas Star Party

Observing site
The Oak Hill Star Shed Observatory
Austin, Texas: Latitude 30° 17' N,  Longitude 97° 44' W
(see: http://www.rc-astro.com/equipment/old_observatory/index.htm )

Remote site
Dimension Point Astronomical Observatory
Star's End Estates, Mayhill, New Mexico.

Astronomical Equipment
RC Optical Systems 14" f/10 Carbon-Truss Ritchey-Chrétien Cassegrain
TeleVue NP-101

SBIG ST-10XME, STL-11000XM and STL-6303E CCD Cameras
SBIG CFW-8 Filter Wheel (standard LRGB filter set)
SBIG AO-7 Adaptive Optics Unit
Coronado SolarMax 90/T-Max Hydrogen-Alpha filter.
Canon D60

TheSky version 5, level IV, MaxIm DL/CCD 3, Adobe Photoshop CS


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