Michael A. Stecker


Michael Sidonio
"World's Strongest Astrophotographer"
Mt Campbell (see photo below) near Canberra

Contact information
website photos
Locator Map
Level of accuracy: near Canberra, Australia

I currently live just outside Australia’s Capital City of Canberra under reasonably dark mag 6.0 skies, yet I am still just 30min drive (no traffic) from the city centre! J I first got interested in Astronomy as young boy and bought my first scope – a Tasco 4.5” Newtonian when I got my first job at 15. I was very active in astronomy and particularly astrophotography in the 80’s building cold cameras and other interesting astrophotographic equipment. During the 90’s I discovered serious weight training and undertook a quest to become the World’s Strongest Man. I got close but being completely drug free prevented me from going all the way. I was runner up in Australia’s Strongest Man competition in 1997 and finished in the top three in the Australia v New Zealand Strongman Challenge in 1998, 1999, 2000 and (surprisingly) 2004. Over the years I have appeared on several TV programs, in sporting magazines, countless newspapers and even on the side of a breakfast cereal packet! I set a world record in a strongman event in 2001 when I lifted (with no grip assistance other than grip chalk) and carried two 160kg oxyacetylene cylinders, one in each hand suitcase style, 51m or nearly 170ft. I am (or at least was?) certainly the World’s Strongest Astronomer!  The round stone on my shoulder in the photograph is solid sandstone and weighs 153kg or 340lbs.


In 2002 I decided that I had just about destroyed my body (and mind!) after 8yrs of serious strongman training and competing and a previous 6 years building up to it, so it was time to move on. I made a whirlwind return to my previous passion of astronomy and astrophotography by purchasing a new 12” SCT and since then I have acquired a few more goodies too! After more than 12 years of absence from active astronomy however, I felt like I had been in a time machine. GOTO, CCD, LRGB, autoguiding etc etc were all new terms for me and it has been a fun and challenging learning curve over the last 3 years getting up to speed on all the changes. This learning curve culminated in me winning a first place award and an honorary mention in the 2005 CWAS Astro Fest, David Malin Awards for astrophotography in July 2005, see links below. 

Astrophotography publications
Canberra Times Newspaper1985 for Astrophotography display and winner of three awards in ACT Science Fair, Sky & Telescope 1987 for astrophotography article and photographs, Aussie Sky and Telescope 2005 for image of M104, July 2005 winner of Deep Sky section amateur division for image of the The Trifid Nebula
in the CWAS Astro Fest David Malin astrophotography awards.

Observing site
Mt Campbell Observatory is in the front yard of my 1.5 acre semi rural property. The structure comprises a 4.8m X 2.4m rectangular building complete with 2.3m Sirius Observatories dome over one half and a self contained control room underneath the other half.. The observatory is 120km inland from Australia’s South Coast at an elevation of 780m with a limiting visual magnitude of about 6.0 on a good transparent night.

Astronomical Equipment
Meade LX200 12” GPS
Astrophysics 152EDF
.Orion 80ED APO
Takahashi NJP mount
Starlightxpress MX716
 Starlightxpress SXV-H9 CCD’s

Fitness Centre manager and still (but very part time) competitive strongman - lifting, dragging, throwing, pushing and pulling heavy things for sport!

Michael's Mt. Cambell Observatory


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