Michael A. Stecker


Stefan Seip


Contact information
Locator Map
Level of accuracy: City of Stuttgart, Germany

The incomparable experience to observe a dark, starlit night sky without any visual aids, is one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. To sense the beloved earth underneath the feet, to capture the vastness of the universe above the head: this puts your mind at rest.
To watch the slow but steady course of the stars, to follow their rise and setting, to notice their colors and scintillations, to experience the precise movements of the planets around the sun, all of this compensates for our hectic 'modern' industrial society, and shows that one is part of  nature's magnificence.
My enthusiasm for the activities and objects of the cosmos dates back to my early adolescence. Driven
by my innate desire to capture beauty in images (I am also a fine art photographer and run my own photography website at: http://www.photomeeting.de) it was only natural to combine these two hobbies. 
It is only today - decades later - that I am starting to grasp what I got myself into.
Although, I still enjoy visual astronomy, astrophotography has gained the upper-hand and requires my full commitment. Had I foreseen what amount of time, perseverance, technology, know-how and - in the end - money would be necessary in order to produce first-class images; I would have had second thoughts about it - only to pursue the same path again!

Amateur astronomy in general and astrophotography in particular always create new challenges. Success and failure lie closely together, luck and skill go hand in hand, disappointment and fulfillment are only seconds or a tiny movement apart. Astrophotography grants you unforgettable hours under the night sky; it allows you to produce aesthetically rewarding and lasting results. Astrophotography is a love-match between physics, photography, art and (digital) image processing. It is .. exciting!
I confess that I want to create 'pretty pictures'. The scientific value of my images is of secondary importance, although, I always try to convey a very realistic and naturalistic impressions of my subjects. You will not find any photomontages, 'digital art' or knowingly manipulated images on my website. In my astrophotography I am striving for reality and authenticity.  In a way as an extension of the optic nerve. Since astrophotography renders forms, structures and colors that  the human eye can never perceive.
I am currently living in Stuttgart (Southern Germany), where I am working as an IT consultant
and science writer. Unfortunately the weather conditions here in Stuttgart are less than favorable.
A clear night sky is the exception, fair weather periods that last a few days are rare, even in summer.
In addition, light pollution is quite significant. The visual limiting magnitude is 4.5 mag with usually bad seeing. All of this means, that I need to travel with my equipment to either the Black Forest or the
Swabian Alb (both nearby) if I want to produce excellent images.
I have owned and used a number of different telescopes over the years until I finally discovered my love for apochromatic refractors. The versatility and efficiency of these devices fascinates me time and again. They not only allow rich-field oberservations and highest enlargements but also CCD imaging.
Thanks to the modern CCD camera the CCD photography as practiced by amateur astronomers
has shown a tremendous increase in quality. Today quite a few amateurs produce images that twenty years ago a large professional observatory would have been proud of. Without mentioning any names: these are my models. Some of the photographs that I watched full of amazement and admiration as a child, I can now produce myself (or at times even surpass them) by using a modern 6" telescope with the latest technology. What could be more fascinating?

Areas of interest
Public Speaking, Multimedia Presentations, CCD imagery, Photography, Image Processing,
Article/Book writing, Traveling

Astrophotography publications
Magazine Articles
Astronomie Heute
Sterne und Weltraum

Amateur Astronomer, Astronomy Now, Ciel et Espace, New Zealand Geographic,
Illustreret Videnskab
, NightSky, SkyNews, Sky & Telescope, Star Observer,
Tähdet ja avaruus (Finnland), Temmon Guide
Author of: Astrofotografie digital, Kosmos (Franckh-Kosmos), German language, ISBN: 3440104265.
Contributed images to: Beautiful Universe  2005+2006 Edition and What´s Out There
Celestial Wonders 2006, Sky Publishing
Himmel und Erde 2006
APOD (NASA 's Astronomy Picture of the Day), several images
Spaceweather, title page, several images
Image of the Day (AstroMart), sveral images
Roland Christen's (CEO Astro-Physics, Inc) CCD Images & Essays on Optics
Santa Barbara Instrument Group: Image Of The Month, July 2004
Sky & Telescope Online, 'Sky at a Glance', Jan 7-15, 2005
ESO 'Deep Impact', Title Page, July 2005
ESO VT-Photo of the Day and VT-Gallery
Featured Astrophotographer' (Utah Skies)
Yahoo!Picks Sep 29, 2004

ARD, 1st German Television channel, several images
mages for some CD covers
Front cover Roger Tayler Memorial Lectures, 2005
Italian Scientific Newton, Aug 2005

Observing sites
Remote: Black Forest or the Swabian Alb

Astronomical Equipment
Astro-Physics 10" f/14.6
Maksutov Cassegrain Reflector
Astro-Physics 155mm f/7
StarFire EDFS Triplet Apochromatic Refractor
Astro-Physics 105mm f/6
Traveler EDF Triplet Apochromatic Refractor
Unitron 75mm f/16 Achromatic Refractor

Astro-Physics 900 QMD
.Astro-Physics 400 CNC

Canon EOS 5D Digital SLR
Firewire Videocamera DMK 21BF04
SBIG ST-4 Autoguider
Philips ToUCam 740K WebCam
Coronado SolarMax 90 / BF 30 (Solar Filter)


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