Michael A. Stecker


Volker Wendel
Weisenheim am Berg

Contact information
Locator Map
Level of accuracy: Germany

I was born in 1971 at Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany.  I still live in the area -- called “Pfalz”, about 80 kilometers southwest of Frankfurt/Main, where I work for the government.

I had my first contact with astronomy at age 4 when my grandma showed me the moon with a little refractor through an open window.  However, I did not become interested in astronomy until many years later when a friend explained the constellations to me.  I then bought a 114mm
Newtonian.  Because of my interest in daylight photography, I attached a camera with a 50mm lens and a 1000 ASA film to get a feeling of what was possible in imaging the night sky. On my very first roll of film I recorded a very bright meteor and the photo was published in a German book about astrophotography --  this was the point of no return for me. The next few years I used a C8, C11 and finally dedicated astrographs -- a 15-inch  Newtonian and a 12-inch f/3-Deltagraph from Philipp Keller. These latter two instruments pushed my results to new levels.

Together with two friends I founded the "Spiegelteam" in 1998 to coordinate our efforts.  We did a lot of medium format b&w and LRGB film work with Kodak Technical Pan 6415. At this stage I was fortunate to learn image processing with a lot of help from Dr. Ernst Brodkorb.  Seeing some of the fantastic published results of amateur CCD imagers, I started CCD imaging for myself in 2002. Having excellent equipment and some good processing skills from the film days helped to a make for a quick transition form silver to silicon. The CCD has allowed my buddy Bernd Flach-Wilken and I to collaborate as a team -- "Spiegelteam" -- even though we do not live next door to each other.

Because of the bad weather here in Germany and especially the light pollution problems where I live, I began traveling to dark sites for astrophotography.  I was out many a night in the "Pfälzer Wald", the largest forest in Germany and later on to Gornergrat in Switzerland.  There at an
altitude of 3150 meters, I was surrounded by more than 20 mountains over 4000 meters, including the famous "Matterhorn".  It was a very special highlight in my life.  In 1998, 2002 and 2004 I traveled south to Namibia for astrophotography with my buddy Bernd Flach-Wilken.

In the past years many of the Spiegelteam images were published in international astronomy magazines and also used in advertisements.

Area of interest
long focal length high-resolution astrophotography

Observing sites
Germany and Namibia

Astronomical Equipment
15" f/4.6 Newtonian
CCD camera


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