Michael A. Stecker


Charlie Warren
Lebanon, TN

Contact information

I am the managing editor of Amateur Astronomy Magazine.  My interest in astronomy started when I was about ten years old and my father taught me the fundamentals of celestial navigation with sextant and nautical charts while cruising in the Bahamas and Virgin islands. At night I remember lying on the deck and looking up into inky black skies as my mother traced the outline of constellations and recited mythological lore. My interest piqued and faded during my early adult years, and like many was rekindled by Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series and later Comet Hyakutake, which inspired me to acquire my first serious telescope. However, it was not until shortly after my wife purchased a “GoTo” scope for my birthday (an act she probably regrets now), that my interest rapidly advanced to the obsessive stage.

Astronomy Tale
When I lived in Dallas, I frequently imaged from a very remote area of Copper Breaks State Park in the panhandle of Texas. One clear night in early Spring I was well into an imaging session about 2:30 AM. I was enjoying the tranquil beauty of this remote site and only half listening to the hypnotic sounds of the packs of hyenas in the distant brush. It suddenly occurred to me that the sounds were coming progressively closer, and from all sides. Taking a quick inventory of potential defensive weapons, I realized my vulnerability. I was not desperate enough to start throwing Nagler eyepieces, but my battery pack was being considered. A thrashing in the dark brush about 40 yards away made me reconsider and sent me sprinting for the refuge of my car. With little concern for my dark adaptation, I cranked the engine and hit the headlights. I could only make out a pair of glowing eyes. The next day the park ranger informed that there had been a mountain lion sighted in the area, which did not make me feel much better. I never did identify this intruder, but tracks suggested something smaller than a mountain lion. This was the first, but certainly not the last of my late night encounters, which have included wild pigs, skunks, raccoons and possums.   

Areas of interest
Deep Sky and narrowband imaging

Astrophotography publications
Amateur Astronomy, The American Astronomer, Several astronomy society publications including The Cape Observer (S Africa), Treasure Coast, Utah Skies

Observing site
Home site
My home observing site is my side yard in Lebanon, TN (Lat 36.33 N, Long 86.37 W)
Remote site
Chiefland Astronomy Village, Florida

Astronomical Equipment
My new primary imaging scope is an 8" Intes Micro Alter M806 F/6 Maksutov/Cassegrain astrograph.
I still use the Tak FS60c for widefield and a Stellarvue SV 102 f/6.9 refractor for middle focal length shots.

CCD and cameras
Starlight Xpress SXV-H9 with MX-5 guider, low lux security cams, Olympus OM-1 and Cannon DSLR

Maxim DL, Desktop Universe, AstroArt, Starry Night Pro 5, Photoshop CS, NEAT Image


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