Michael A. Stecker


Tony Hallas
Foresthill, California
(see additional photos below)


Contact information.

I was born in Washington DC in 1945. My parents were American citizens living in Turkey, so most of my childhood summers were spent there. The rest of that time I  attended school in the U.S> at Miami Country Day School and then South Kent Parochial School.  From there I went on to University of Miami to study pharmacology but found that wasn’t for me. My interest in photography and surfing lead him to move to California to attend Brooks Institute where I graduated with a BA. I was later drafted and spent a year in Vietnam as a combat photographer. After returning I started a small photo lab in Ventura, CA which became very successful with over 20 employees. I became interested in astronomy in 1986 during Halley's Comet.

I have been active in astronomy since 1986 and have been doing astrophotography since 1987. I am self taught through books and trial and error. When I was getting started I was fortunate to have Kim Zussman and Marty Germano in my astronomy club who helped me out. My wife Daphne and I have always
worked together as a team. We have both worked as photo lab technicians with combined experience of
over 30 years.

While living in southern California I owned a large custom/commercial photo lab for many years but have sold it now so that we can concentrate on astrophotography full time. In 1992 I formed Astro Photo; a small lab specifically for astrophotographers. I am able to offer the techniques I used in processing my own work to others who do not have the time to do it themselves. My specialty is making large prints for display.

My imaging spans three chapters. The first chapter involved purely photo mechanical enhancement techniques such as physically stacking negatives. The second chapter involved digitizing film and utilizing many digital enhancement techniques. The third chapter is the utilization of a CCD camera to acquire 16 bit digital data directly from the sky.

One of my greatest honors was receiving the Clyde W. Tombaugh Award at the 2001 RTMC for technical innovations in astronomy. I have met great people and established long-term friendships through astronomy.  The years we traveled to Mount Pinos were great. We fondly remember times when we would arrive at the parking lot during the week and no one was there and we felt really alone and all of a sudden we would see a car pulling up and it would be Mike Stecker ready to provide company.  Now we work from our backyard observatory in Foresthill and all the camaraderie and sharing of information is online or at the star parties and conferences across the country.

Astrophotography publications
editor's note
Tony and Daphne's work has been published is so many magazines and books that they stopped keeping track of them. Tony believes you are only as good as your last photograph and continually strives for the
best that is possible.

Observing site
Home observatory at Foresthill, California, USA

Astronomical Equipment
I have used many telescopes throughout my photographic years which have included a Celestron 14" SCT mounted on a 12 Schaefer mount, 4", 5", 6", and 7" Astro-Physics refractors, and a 12.5" f/7 Newtonian on the 12" Schaefer mount, a William Optics 4" refractor mounted on a MI250 mount and a  Stellarvue 6" f/7.9 refractor on a AP1200 GOTO mount. Currently, I am using a 14.5" f/8 RCOS Classical Cassegrain on an Astro-Physics 1200 GTO Mount with the SBIG STL-11k  imaging camera.  Extreme wide-field imaging is done using a Canon 20DA.
14.5" f/8 RCOS Scott Classical Cassegrain

Astro-Physics 1200 GTO

Canon 20DA

Photo Gallery

 Tony at home with his 14.5-inch f/8 RCOS Scott Classical Cassegrain
Astro-Physics 1200 GTO mount and SBIG STL-11k  CCD camera

Tony (center) at his last astro-trip to Mt. Pinos, California in 2000.
From left to right: Michael Stecker, Martin Germano, James Foster, Tony Hallas, Bob Fera, Janice Fera and
Butch Trombley

Tony at the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference

Tony Hallas, Janice Fera and Bill Williams at 2015 Advanced Imaging Conference


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