Michael A. Stecker



Philip Perkins
Wiltshire, England
United Kingdom


1998 winner of the
Michael  Stecker Astrophotography Competition
(London, England)

Contact information
Locator Map
Level of accuracy: Wiltshire (near
Salisbury, England)

See: http://www.astrocruise.com/intro.htm
I have been interested in astronomy since about the age of twelve, when I can remember reclining full length on the dew-laden lawn of my parent's house in Parkstone, Dorset, trying to spot the polar caps of Mars through a 2" non-achromatic refractor I was given for my birthday.

My interest waned somewhat during my later teens, 20's and 30's (a misspent youth and subsequent preoccupations with career and family seemed to be the main cause), but re-emerged strongly in 1988 when I purchased my first 'real' telescope - a Meade 8" LX3. It was with this telescope that I started to dabble in astrophotography, but went on to more serious things in 1994 with the acquisition of a Meade LX200 10".

I started to become seriously involved in astrophotography in December 1996. In order to get better images I needed a dark site, so I started making regular trips to the south of France.  I also acquired many images from the back garden of my house in Wiltshire, UK.

During 1998 I replaced my Tamron 300mm lens with Nikon 300mm and 400mm lenses and upgraded my hypering kit to support high vacuum film hypersensitisation. During my first two years of experience in astrophotography I became increasingly aware of the need to cover focal lengths in the 1000mm range. Therefore late in 1998 I made two major acquisitions: an AP 900 GTO mount and an AP 155 EDF f/7 refractor with 4" Field Flattener. A little later I also acquired a Pentax 6x7 camera to enable medium format photography with the new refractor. At this time most of my photography was done on  gas hypersensitised

In October 2000 I replaced my 10" LX200 OTA with a 12.5" Ritchey-Chretien from RC Optical Systems to support higher quality in wide field photography. The RC has other advantages, such as 1/6 wave optics, a superb focusing system, and very good thermal stability (the focus does not shift during the night). A little later, in February 2001, I made a move into CCD imaging with the purchase of an SBIG ST-8E camera.

I am grateful to the many friends on mail lists such as APML and SBIG who have given me invaluable help. Mail lists are a wonderful thing - there is more knowledge and experience to be had than in any book, and it's totally free. Without this help I would still be in the proverbial dark ages.

Observing site
Home observatory
Remote site in southern France

Astronomical Equipment
RC Optical Systems 12.5" f/9 Ritchey-Chretien
Astro-Physics 155 EDF refractor with 4" Field Flattener
Nikon 300mm f/2.8 and 400mm f/3.5 lenses

Astro-Physics 900 GTO

CCD/film cameras
Nikon F2 camera, Pentax 6x7 camera



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