Michael A. Stecker


Melissa Hulbert
Sydney, Australia


Contact information
under construction

My interest in astronomy began when I was about 10 years old. My Mum took my brother and I into the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences and while there we did a planetarium show. Although the planetarium was very basic by todayís standards, the stories about the mythical figures the constellations represented and the fact I could go outside and find them myself sparked my interest - I was hooked! We purchased a planisphere afterwards and I spent many a night learning my way about the sky. This one event was to shape the course of my life. While completing a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Physics/Astrophysics I worked as a night guide/lecturer at Sydney Observatory (www.sydneyobservatory.com.au), where I now work full-time as an Astronomy Educator. In between though, I contributed a column to Lab News Magazine and then later spent some time as Assistant Editor on both Lab News and Todayís Life Sciences Magazines. Iíve also worked casually for The Binocular and Telescope Shop (www.bintel.com.au) here in Sydney. Iíve written astrophotography courses for Swinburne Universityís Online Astronomy Course (http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/sao/) and currently supervise student projects.

Iíve always loved taking pictures Ė in fact I much prefer to be taking the pictures rather than being in them! My main interests have always been comets and eclipses, but if itís up there and not beyond the range of the equipment Iím using then Iím happy to snap its portrait.

Generally, Iím not one to put my images into publications Ė good feedback from my friends is good enough for me, however my images have been published in a few magazines Ė Sky & Space, Lab News and The Night Sky. Recently my images of Comet McNaught have appeared on Sky & Telescope Magazine (http://skytonight.com/) and Spaceweatherís (http://www.spaceweather.com/) websites and in Temmon Guide.

In the last few years Iíve been learning to read and translate Egyptian hieroglyphs and have been able to combine my interest with astronomy. I journeyed to Turkey last year for my second total solar eclipse and was able to also return to Egypt which I had previously visited some years before, this time visiting specific sights of astronomical interest.

I like nothing better than spending time imaging the wonders of a clear, dark night sky with a few friends. I generally observe with friends from Sutherland Astronomical Society Inc (www.sasi.net.au), where Iíve been a member for 17 years and currently lead the Astro-Imaging Group.

 Please drop me an email if you have any queries, I enjoy helping others get the most out of this fascinating field!

Observing site
I donít have my own Observatory, though I do occasionally observe/webcam the planets from home. I generally observe with friends at a dark site we have about an hour from home, away from some of Sydneyís lights. My friend John Vetter runs Mudgee Observatory (http://www.mudgeeobservatory.com.au/)and I often travel there to observe as the skies are much darker, being 3.5 hours away from Sydney and its lights.

Astronomical Equipment
C-8 Schmidt Cassegrain on a Vixen Super Polaris Mount
Canon 20D camera
I have recently ordered a Losmandy G-11 and William Optics FLT-132.
I do occasionally use Mudgee Observatoryís 10-inch Takahashi Astrograph which is a superb instrument for deep sky photography.


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