Michael A. Stecker


 James Richard Foster
Los Angeles, California
(see second photo below)


Contact information
James R. Foster's astrophotos on AstroBin
JamesF's gallery - AstroBin
Personal web site

I have been interested in Astronomy since I was about 7 years old and remember the vivid lunar eclipses my father pointed out and all the excitement (misguided!) about Comet Kohoutek in early 1974.  I began reading Sky & Telescope and other astronomical magazines towards the late 1970s and purchased a C-8 telescope in early 1981; this was almost too advanced for me at the time!  I built a very rickety 17.5” Dobson in my backyard around 1985.  I noted the lunar occultation of Antares in early 1987 and decided to get “serious” about astronomy.  I purchased a Meade 10” F/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain and a smaller 4” Sch-Cat, and started to dable in astrophotography.   I traveled to many dark sky locations in the intervening 2 years but found the most consistent condition wise and closest dark sky area to be Mt. Pinos in 1988-89.  I’ve been conducting my astrophotography there since that time.  I enjoy shooting peculiar galaxies, at high focal length, but also enjoy shooting comets and any other type of rare astronomical events. I had the unique experience of viewing the total eclipse of the sun from Bolivia in November 1994 and had the privilege of conducting my own astrophotography from Carnage's Las Campanas Observatory, Chile in 1996. I have over a hundred of my images published in various magazines in the U.S, U.K, Italy, Latin America and Japan. These include Astronomy Magazine (US), Astronomy Now (UK), Deep Sky Magazine (US), Newsweek Magazine (US and Latin America), Sky & Telescope (US), Coelum Astronomia (Italy) and Tenjmon Guide (Japan). In connection with my physics undergraduate degree, I have worked at the JPL Table Mountain Facility to help gather asteroid astrometric data for Dr. William M. Owen, metallicity studies of globular clusters under Dr. Steve Gillam, and NEO asteroid
research under Dr. Michael Hicks.  Late in the 1990s I decide to obtain a larger scope of better quality and larger aperture that was commercially available at the time.  In conjunction with Optician Tom Scott (Scott Optics) and Parallax, Inc, I designed and had built my present system, a 13” F/7.5 classical cassegrain reflecting telescope. Using this precise system with an Astro-Physics 1200 Goto mount, I have made over 750 asteroid measurements for the Minor Planet Center (at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory ) and about 2-3 dozen photometry observations for the American Association for Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) from my home built observatory within 10 miles of downtown Los Angeles!   I hope to get the  publishing (“pretty picture”) side of astrophotography reinvigorated with the purchase of a large and advanced CCD I recently received, an SBIG STL-11000M.   I live in Los Angeles but do most of my shooting from Mt. Pinos, California or the area north of Red Rock State Park, California. I am in my 20th year of working as a civilian federal employee for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, currently as a real estate specialist. I have a BA in English from the California State University, Los Angeles. I am in the process of finishing my second BA, in Physics, at CSULA.

Areas of astrophotography interest
                                   comets and deep sky                                       

Astrophotography publications
Astronomy Magazine (US), Astronomy Now (UK), Deep Sky Magazine (US), Newsweek Magazine (US and Latin America), Sky & Telescope (US), Coelum Astronomia (Italy) and Tenjmon Guide (Japan).
Observing sites

Los Angeles home observatory and Mount Pinos, California 

Astronomical Equipment
13” F/7.5 classical cassegrain reflecting telescope, 10-inch f/4.5 Newtonian, 4-inch Genesis refractor, Planewave 17-incg CDK17

Astro-Physics 1200 GOTO, iOptron CEM60

CCD cameras
SBIG ST7 & and STL-11000M


James at his Los Angeles home observatory
The telescope is a fast 13-inch, f/7.5 Classical Cassegrain utilizing a unique truncated cone primary mirror design.  It sits atop an Astro-Physics 1200 GOTO mount.


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