Michael A. Stecker


Bob and Janice Fera
Foresthill, California


Contact information.
Locator Map
Level of accuracy: near town of Foresthill, California, USA

Hi, I am Bob Fera an Information Technology Manager for a small company based in Tarzana, CA called Zenith Information Systems, Inc., where I have worked since 1980. Over the years I have had to wear many hats (usually simultaneously) – programmer, system administrator, database administrator, network administrator, etc. – thereby becoming proficient with many different technologies. My wife, Janice, our son, Alex, and I live in the Sierra Foothill community of Foresthill. Thanks to the “wonders of the internet” I am fortunate to be able to perform most of my job duties from home.

Janice and I grew up in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles. We are both graduates of UCLA, Janice with a degree in Linguistics-Computer Science and I with a degree in Math-Computer Science. We married in 1985 and settled in Woodland Hills, CA. Several years later we moved to nearby Calabasas, in the hills near Malibu. In 2003, soon after Alex was born, we left Southern California and began the process of building our current home in Foresthill. Our new place, with its requisite observatory, was completed in January 2005, and we are thrilled to be living in a quiet small town atmosphere with beautifully dark skies right out our front door.

My interest in astronomy began when I was quite young, and I acquired my first telescope, a 6” f/8 Optical Craftsman Newtonian, at age 12. I even tried my hand, unsuccessfully, at astrophotography around that time. My enthusiasm faded for several years, but was rekindled in 1990 when I saw published photographs taken by the likes of Tony and Daphne Hallas, Bill and Sally Fletcher, and others. I decided I had to try my hand at astrophotography again. A couple of years later we began traveling to the dark skies of Mt. Pinos, where I was fortunate to meet, become friends with and learn from some of the best astrophotographers in the world.

In 1994, after exploring a few different instrument configurations, I finally settled on a Celestron C-11 and an Astro-Physics 1200 mount, a setup which served me well for several years of film imaging. In 1999 I upgraded to a 1200GTO mount, and in 2000 I replaced the C-11 with a 12.5” f/9 Ritchey Chretien Cassegrain built by Parallax Instruments. In 2003 I entered the digital age with an SBIG ST-10 CCD camera, and in 2005 acquired a Yankee Robotics 6303.

I enjoy taking high-resolution color images of deep-sky objects. Making the switch from film to CCD has been a challenge, but it has also been great fun. I am continually amazed at how much technology has improved over the years and at the unbelievable quality of the photographs being produced by my fellow imagers. Both provide great motivation to keep learning and trying to improve my skills.

Area of interest
CCD Astrophotography

Astrophotography publications
Astronomy, Sky and Telescope (cover image for August, 1996)
Exploring the Universe, 1996 (cover), Deep Sky Companions,The Caldwell Objects (by Stephen James O’Meara), Celestial Sampler (by Sue French)

Observing Site
Eagle Ridge Observatory, Foresthill, California

Astronomical Equipment
Parallax Instruments 12.5” f/9 Ritchey Chretien
William Optics 4” f/8 APO refractor (Sept. – Dec. 2005)
Stellarvue SV152 6” f/8 APO refractor (beginning Dec. 2005)
Astro-Physics 1200GTO
Yankee Robotics Trifid-2 6303


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