Michael A. Stecker


Johannes Schedler
Wildon, Austria


Contact information
Locator Map
Level of accuracy: town of Wildon, Austria

I was born in 1953 in Graz, Austria, but spent my youth in a small village in western Tyrol doing a lot
of skiing and mountaineering.
 Since age 15 I was passionately doing chemistry experiments and electronics in my free time and after finishing secondary school studied Technical Chemistry in Graz.
Starting from
1977 I developed new solutions for industrial waste water cleaning and waste gas purification and in 1985
d the Austrian Air Pollution Control company named CTP which I currently manage.

My astronomical life started in 1997 with a simple Tasco reflector, a gift for my second son.  He soon lost interest in his scope, so I tried it out and and began to explore the Moon and the Planets. Because of the need for higher quality and magnification I soon upgraded to the Meade ETX90 which made for better planetary viewing.  In 1998 I joined the local astronomy club and acquired a C11 on a G11 mount.  Astro-related photographic film experiments failed, but in 1999 I successfully introduced a webcam for planetary imaging and motivated other colleagues of my club to do the same.  My wife Roswitha supported my new hobby fascinated from the endless variety of objects to observe and to image. 

To escape the painful setup installation every night I built my own 3m observatory beside my house 25 km south of Graz during summer 2000 in a semi-rural environment (mag 5 sky typical).
  Another big step into deep sky astrophotography was the use of a digicam, first the Nikon CP995, then replacing it 2001 with the Canon D60 and 2002 with the Canon 10D.   A MX7C was used for autoguiding.
My second high quality scope was a 4 f/6.5 TMB APO refractor. Ironically most times I was guiding with the C11 and imaging with the 4 refractor. I accepted the lower cost and big chip size of the Canon D-SLR with reduced efficiency, as no reasonable priced CCD cameras were available up to 2003. To overcome the low quality of these raws I tried to compensate it by long multiple exposures and tricky Photoshop processing. By doing this I was pushing the limits of digicam imaging.  At the beginning of the year 2004 SBIG released the STL-11000, the first full frame CCD camera and I got one of the first models.  During the year 2004 I consequently explored mainly nebulas using the wide corrected field of my TMB. Also in 2004 my wife and I did our first trip to Namibia, using most of the nights to image many fascinating southern targets with the 4" TMB and the STL on my mobile setup.

Intense E-mail communication with colleagues all over the world pushed my experience in image acquisition and processing.  Another dream came true in early 2005 when after a 2 years wait my 16" Cassegrain from P. Keller was finished and installed in my observatory.  This was a big step forward and allowed for imaging objects of various sizes in both medium to high resolution. Because of the f/3 option of my Cassegrain, I tend to specialise in wider-field images.  Additionally, I am doing high resolution imaging using the STL-11000 with the cassegrain f/10 setup at 4 m focal lenght as well as with a firewire b/w webcam typically at f/20 for planets, Moon and Sun.  In November 2005 I was invited to speak at the Advanced Imaging Conference in San Jose, California where I spoke on imaging with the STL-11000. It was a great experience because I met many famous astro-imagers in person and enjoyed talking directly with them the first time.  Also in November 2005 I exchanged my 4 TMB against a TEC-140 f/7 APO refractor with field flattener to improve the resolution for my mobile setup. This setup was used intensely for astro-imaging during my 2 week's stay in Hakos/Namibia in Mai 2006.

Astrophotography publications

Astronomie heute: Articles and images
Vatican Observatory Calendar 2006, 2008: Images
Interstellarum: Front page, articles and images
Sky & Telescope: Front pages, articles and images
Practical Astronomer: Front page and images
Ciel & Espace: Front page, articles and images
Coelum: Front page and images
Digital Astrophotography (Ratledge David Ed.)
Chapter: Deep Sky Imaging with a Digital SLR

UNIVERSE (2005 by DK):
Images .
Double and Multiple Stars:
Himmelskalenderen 2007:

Beautiful Universe 2008:
Chapter with images
NASA APODs: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007

Observing site
Panther Observatory at Wildon, Austria
Latitude: 46 53 03 North
Longitude: 15 30 28 East
Elevation: 400 meters (1312 feet)

Astronomical Equipment
Astro-Optik 410 mm (16-inch) Cassegrain by Phillip Keller
with corrected prime focus at f/3 and uncorrected secondary focus at f/10
TEC 140mm f/7 APO refractor with flattener

Recommended lenses
Canon EF 200 mm f/2.8 L
Canon 100mm f/2 lens
Sigma 20mm f/1.8 lens
MK 100 German Equatorial Mount (100 mm axes, 200 kg weight) by
Michael Knopf
 on top of a 12" concrete pier
Telescope control
FS2 Goto control by Michael Koch Elektronik
SBIG STL-11000 with 8 pos. filter wheel
Canon 40D
Filters and holders
Astronomik 2" LRGB filter set
Baader 50.6 mm CLRGB filter set
Baader 7 nm H-alpha filter 51mm
Baader 8 nm S-II filter 51mm
Baader 8 nm O-III filter 51mm
Baader Astrosolar filter
Baader continuum filter (narrow green) for solar imaging.
Lumicon UHC filter 50mm
Atik 5x filter wheel 1,25"

Johannes and wife Roswitha at their Panther Observatory


back link