2008 Speakers and Workshop Leaders

Click on a name to review this year's dazzling line-up of astro-photographic luminaries:

  • Michael Bakich
  • Steve Cullen
  • Bob Denny
  • Dr. Alex Filippenko
  • Timothy Ferris
  • Chris Ford
  • John Gleason
  • Ray Gralak
  • Doug George
  • Jack Harvey
  • Stan Moore
  • Wolfgang Promper
  • Mike Rice
  • John Smith
  • Matt Thomas
  • Mike Unsold
  • Sean Walker
  • Ron Wodaski


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    Professor Timothy Ferris
    2008 AIC Hubble Award Recipient




    The advent of high-definition television has made it possible, for the first time, to bring motion pictures of astronomical vistas to millions of viewers at a level of quality that answers to that of actual visual observing and professional digital imaging. (Intriguingly, one of the greatest challenges posed by HD technology turns out to be that of recreating the ordinary experience of looking up at a starry sky with the naked eye.)

    In this talk I present sequences from my film "Seeing in the Dark"- which employs a wide range of HDTV imaging techniques, from simply placing an HD video camera on a telescope to the use of CMOS still cameras to make time-lapse footage- and discuss how they were composed. Used properly, HDTV has the potential to create science documentaries with production values that match or exceed those of Hollywood feature films.



    Timothy Ferris is the author of ten books- among them the bestsellers The Whole Shebang and Coming of Age in the Milky Way, which have been translated into fifteen languages and were named by The New York Times as two of the leading books published in the twentieth century, and Seeing in the Dark, named one of the ten best nonfiction books of 2002. He is the editor of the anthologies Best American Science Writing 2001 and the World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics. A former editor of Rolling Stone magazine, Ferris has published over 200 articles and essays in The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Forbes, Harperís, Scientific American, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, and other periodicals.

    Ferris has written and narrated three television specials- The Creation of the Universe (1985), Life Beyond Earth (1999), and Seeing in the Dark (2007). He produced the Voyager phonograph record, an artifact of human civilization containing music and sounds of Earth launched aboard the twin Voyager interstellar spacecraft, which are now exiting the solar system. He was also a friend of and collaborator with the American astronomer Carl Sagan. He was among the journalists selected as candidates to fly aboard the Space Shuttle in 1986, and has served on NASA commissions studying the long-term goals of space exploration and the hazards posed by near-Earth asteroids.

    Called "the best popular science writer in the English language" by The Christian Science Monitor and "the best science writer of his generation" by The Washington Post, Ferris has received the American Institute of Physics prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His works have been nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

    A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Professor Ferris has taught in five disciplines- astronomy, English, history, journalism, and philosophy- at four universities, and is now emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley. At present he is writing Science & Liberty, a study of the relationship between science and liberal democracy.

    Timothy Ferris also is an amateur astrophotographer who captures images with an 18-inch, f/4.5 Newtonian at his Rocky Hill Observatory.
     
     
     
    John Gleason
    Author, World Renowned Astrophotographer


    Fires of Creation- Getting the most out of your Ha images


    This presentation will commence with a brief summary of filters and gear, then follow with a discussion of several very simple techniques and a few special methods that John has used to bring out the full dynamic range on some of his favorite H-a targets. If time permits, heíll take a quick journey to the Southern Hemisphere Ė stepping through a few of the fantastic nebula fields that await the H2 explorer.



    In the tradition of great Schmidt camera sky surveys, and the works of Hans Vehrenberg and Shigemi Numazawa, (authors of The Atlas of Deep Sky Splendors, and The Deep Sky), John Gleasonís life long passion has been wide field, highly detailed astrophotography -- in particular sweeping grayscale vistas of hydrogen alpha emission objects along the galactic equator. Over the last 5 years, John Gleason has embarked on a photographic odyssey to produce a personal CCD atlas of very deep H-a portraits of northern and southern hemisphere emission nebulae.

    By day John Gleason is a Product Manager for Hewlett-Packardís desktop consumer PC business located in Cupertino, California. He has been imaging the night sky since 1974. His images have appeared in numerous periodicals and books including Smithsonian, National Geographic, New Scientist, Discovery, Ciel & Espace, S&T, and Astronomy.
     
     
     
    Michael Bakich
    Author, Senior Editor
    Astronomy magazine


    Publisher Imaging Priorities

    Magazines that serve the amateur astronomical community are in constant need for high quality images that accurately depict planetary, solar and deep space phenomenon. Inspiring pictures that also capture the majesty of the Universe are particularly sought after. This presentation will discuss how to submit pictures for consideration and the methods used to make final publishing selections at Astronomy magazine.



    After receiving an M.A. in 1977, Bakich worked in seven planetaria and, from 1997 until 2003, served as a planetarium consultant, public speaker, and author of three books for the Cambridge University Press. His first book was titled The Cambridge Guide to the Constellations. This was followed by The Cambridge Planetary Handbook- a study of the planets. His latest published book, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Amateur Astronomy, offers a thorough discussion about amateur astronomy.

    Michael is currently under contract to Springer Publishing to complete a book entitled 1001 Sky Wonders You Must See Before You Die. Joining Astronomy magazine as associate editor (and photo editor) in February 2003, Bakich was promoted to senior editor of the monthly publication in 2006.

    Michael has always been a much sought after "tour guide" to eclipses, sky events, and historical astronomical sites. He's conducted many tours, including two to the Yucatan Peninsula that studied the astronomically related ruins of the Maya, several to space shuttle launches, a 1986 Tahiti cruise to observe the appearance of Halley's Comet, a safari to South Africa that observed the 2004 transit of Venus, and total solar eclipse trips in the United States, Mexicoís Baja Peninsula, Peru, Tahiti, and Europe. In August 2008, he will be leading a group to Novosibirsk, Russia- his 10th total solar eclipse! In 2009, itís off to China, and, in 2010, he plans to stand under the Moonís shadow on Easter Island (or on a ship nearby).
     
     
     
    Dr. Alex Filippenko
    Professor of Astronomy
    University of California, Berkeley


    Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe

    Observations of very distant exploding stars (supernovae) show that the expansion of the Universe is now speeding up, rather than slowing down due to gravity as expected. Other, completely independent data strongly support this amazing conclusion. Over the largest distances, our Universe seems to be dominated by a repulsive "dark energy," stretching the very fabric of space itself faster and faster with time. The physical nature of dark energy is often considered to be the most important unsolved problem in physics; it probably provides clues to a unified quantum theory of gravity.



    Dr. Alex Filippenko received his BA in Physics from UC Santa Barbara in 1979 and his PhD in Astronomy from Caltech in 1984. After a two-year Miller Fellowship at UC Berkeley, he joined the Berkeley faculty in 1986. An observational astronomer, he makes frequent use of the 10-meter Keck telescopes, the Hubble Space Telescope, and other observatories. His primary areas of research are supernovae (exploding stars), active galaxies, black holes, gamma-ray bursts, and the expansion of the universe. His research accomplishments, documented in about 550 published articles, have been recognized by several major prizes including the Richtmyer Memorial Award (2007), and he is one of the world's most highly cited astronomers. He was a member of both teams that discovered the accelerating expansion of the Universe, propelled by mysterious "dark energy." This was voted the top "Science Breakthrough of 1998" by Science magazine, and the teams received the 2007 Gruber Cosmology Prize for their discovery.

    Filippenko has won the highest teaching awards at UC Berkeley and has been voted the "Best Professor" on campus six times (1995, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008). In 2006, he was selected as the Carnegie/CASE Doctoral and Research Universities National Professor of the Year. He has appeared in many TV documentaries, including "Stephen Hawking's Universe," "Runaway Universe," "Exploring Time," and (most recently) numerous episodes of "The Universe" on The History Channel. Having given over 500 popular talks to a very wide range of audiences, he is in much demand as a speaker. He has produced three astronomy video courses with The Teaching Company, including a 96-lecture series in 2007, and in 2001 he coauthored an award-winning textbook, now in its third edition. He is the recipient of the 2004 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization.

    An avid tennis player, skier, and hiker, Filippenko also enjoys world travel, and he is addicted to experiencing total solar eclipses (8 and counting, with #9 coming up in Mongolia, 1 August 2008).
     
     
     
    Sean Walker
    Imaging Editor
    Sky & Telescope Magazine


    Collaborative Imaging

    Project collaboration is a common practice among astronomers and astrophysicists but it remains relatively rare within the confines of the amateur astrophotography imaging community. This presentation will explore the challenges and rewards of producing images in association with a partner located half-way across the United States.

    Sean joined the staff of Sky & Telescope in 2000 as the Ad Production Coordinator. A graduate of Massachusetts College of Art, Sean brought extensive experience with digital and photographic prepress techniques, as well as several years of observing and astrophotography.

    Sean spent free time countless hours learning computer image processing techniques, as well as perfecting a few of his own. This attracted the attention of the editorial staff, and a few years later moved over to assistant editor, specializing in astrophotography and new-product coverage.

    Sean lives just over the Massachusetts border under the darker skies of New Hampshire, where he built his observatory on an 8-acre farm he shares with his wife, daughter, and an ever-growing menagerie of farm animals.

    Rather than concentrating on one imaging discipline, Sean pursues a multitude of imaging projects, from deep exposures of faint galaxies, to capturing high-resolution records of the Sun, Moon, and planets with an ever-changing arsenal of cameras and telescopes. For example, Sean is considered one of the world's leading planetary photographers.
     
     
     
    Chris Ford
    RenderMan Business Director
    PIXAR Animation Studios


    3D Astronomical Rendering

    The application of cinematic CG visual effects software to astronomical imaging presents the possibility of creating true 3D spatial interpretations of your data in stereoscopic or 3D animated form. In this presentation, Chris Ford from Pixar's rendering team will demonstrate how to combine your data with the latest scientific research so you can literally move in and around the objects that you are imaging.



    Chris Ford is currently RenderMan Business Director at Pixar Animation Studios. Previously at Autodesk, Alias, and Silicon Graphics, Chris has managed most of the professional CG modeling, animation, and rendering software tools used in contemporary feature film special effects and astronomical visualization including RenderMan, Maya, 3ds max, Dynamation and associated paint and compositing technologies.
     
     
     
    Ray Gralak
    Principal Developer- Sigma, PEMPro


    Advanced Image Combine Techniques to Produce the Cleanest Images

    Various image combine methods, including some new methods, are compared. Image combine algorithms, including mean, median, Sigma clip, Standard Deviation Masking, and others are explained. The presentation will explain how to choose and use the most appropriate method to most effectively create the best dark frames, flat frames, and calibrated light frames.

    Raised in Toledo, Ohio, Ray's parents provided him with a Catholic education from grades one through twelve. His aptitude for mathematics and science combined with his natural interest in the same subjects to help him earn a partial scholarship to Caltech. To offset some of his college expenses, Ray worked as a computer programmer and, upon graduation, decided to pursue this as a permanent career instead of leveraging his degree in electrical engineering.

    Ray is currently engaged in advanced research and development at a high tech Silicon Valley company in California. He has developed a number of freeware and commercial applications related to astronomy and astro-photography including PulseGuide, UltraTrack, Sigma, and PEMPro. The core code of Sigma is packaged with MaximDL V4 from Diffraction Limited. PEMPro is approaching its fourth year of successful sales.
     
     
     
    Wolfgang Promper
    Musician, World Renowned Astrophotographer


    Getting the Best Out of Your Site

    Every year the blanket of artificial nighttime lighting extends ever further into previously dark locations making it increasingly difficult to obtain data from a deep, pristine skies without many hours of travel from home. Thus, unless you are fortunate to have access to a remotely controlled observatory located far from city lights, you are forced to deal with the additional challenge of rescuing your subjects from gradients and other unwanted problems. Some have chosen narrow band imaging as a solution but with patience and a few techniques, it's still possible to produce colorful, naturally hued astronomical images with deep backgrounds. This presentation will discuss effective processing methods that can be used for dark sky images and those exposed under much less favorable conditions which still result in satisfying pictures.
    Wolfgang Promper was born in 1962 and spent his first eight years in Victoria, Australia. There, he had his first contact with astronomy with the gift of a small telescope, from his father, at age five. Three years later, his family moved to Austria where, through the age of eleven, he was a dedicated visual observer until then he discovered the guitar. During the ensuing decade that followed, Wolfgang focused his attention less on the skies and more on music. By his early twenties, he had become a professional musician but astronomy was also regaining his interest- now he wanted to take pictures!

    With an 8-inch Celestron and a home darkroom setup, Wolfgang taught himself the tedious techniques required to produce pictures of the heavens using film emulsion. An experiment with one of the first CCD cameras produced unexpected results and opened his eyes to the possibility of taking deep images even from his suburban backyard.

    No longer a professional musician, today, Wolfgang works with gas analyzing systems. Fortunately, this leaves him sufficient time to invest in imaging projects- some also involve frequent trips to the wonderful dark skies of Namibia.
     
     
     
    Steve Cullen
    President- LightBuckets


    Remote Imaging Live Demonstration

    Online astronomy is an emerging industry. This presentation will discuss the reasons for creating a global online telescope network; who is using online astronomy today and who will be using it in the future; some of the tools and technologies needed to get online; the challenges and advantages in using remote instruments via the web; and what the future holds for online astronomy. Weather permitting, there will be a real time demonstration of LightBuckets and the LightBuckets Telescope Network.

    From its inception, Steve has been the driving force behind LightBuckets. His broad strategic business experience combined with functional expertise in product management, engineering, and marketing has allowed him to build LightBuckets into the leading provider of online telescopes. Steve's vision for LightBuckets is simple...to make it easy to access research-grade telescopes by anyone interested in astronomy from beginners to astrophotographers to university researchers.

    For the nine years prior to founding LightBuckets, Steve served in various capacities with Symantec Corporation, a multi-billion dollar consumer and enterprise security software company. In his most recent position, he was Sr. Vice President of Symantec's Security Products and Solutions Group, leading a two billion dollar business unit and over one-thousand technology professionals. He was a member of Symantec's ten-person Executive Committee which oversaw all strategic decisions for the company. Steve also held senior positions in product management and strategic marketing early in his career at Symantec. Prior to Symantec, Steve worked for market-leading software companies going back to the early 80's.

    Steve has a number of other technology interests including being the founder and president of Mondo Brands, the worldwide leader in online enthusiast communities. Mondo builds and hosts communities where people of similar passions and pastimes get together to share thoughts, ideas, and information. Mondo currently has over 20 communities including SpaceSpot, DucatiSpot, FerrariSpot, GolfSpot, WineSpot, PhotoSpot, and more

    When he isn't busy running his businesses Steve spends time with his other hobbies including photography, motorsports, consumer electronics, radio-controlled vehicles, target shooting, and technology in general. In his free time, he enjoys time with his beautiful wife, their three unruly dogs, and their pet bird Gizzy.
     
     
     
    John Smith
    Founder- CCDWare


    CCDAutoPilot Imaging
    The Race Against Time: Session Planning and Execution

    with Steve Walters

    The sky is crystal clear and the Sun is setting. But when darkness falls, imagers everywhere are in a race against time! Because clear skies are precious, we don't want to waste a second. And even on a mediocre night, we still want rapid and precise acquisition. In this talk, John Smith and Steve Walters, authors of CCDAutopilot and CCDNavigator, will discuss and demonstrate your best weapons in the race against time, complete planning and automated execution.

    Born in Philadelphia, John Smith spent most of his career in the northeastern US. With degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering, John worked in many aspects of science and technology, eventually ending as a senior executive in a high technology company. Moving to a comfortable Arizona retirement, his time soon became filled with hobbies like astronomy, computers and photography. So, becoming involved in astrophotography became somewhat inevitable. John remains very active by offering consulting services for astronomical equipment installation, setup and alignment, image acquisition and processing for amateur and academic clients. John is the co-founder of CCDWare and author of CCDAuto Pilot.

    Steve Walters, author of CCDNavigator, has been imaging the night sky since 1980 with film and CCD cameras. Steve is past-President of S*T*A*R Astronomy in NJ and taught Astronomy at Brookdale Community College. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, a Telcordia Fellow, holds a PhD in EE from Virginia Tech and is a Vietnam Veteran (USAF). Steve provided the confirmation image for supernova 2008cy.
     
     
     
    Doug George
    President/CEO- Diffraction Limited


    Maxim DL Image Processing

    Doug George is a Professional Engineer with 24 years experience in the design of electronics, embedded systems, and application software. He is President of Diffraction Limited, which produces imaging products including MaxIm DL imaging software, MaxPoint telescope pointing software, the MaxDome observatory dome automation system, and the Boltwood Cloud Sensor.

    Doug's observing interests include astrophotography, occultations, and patrol programs. He co-discovered Comet Skorichenko-George visually, and has co-discovered 12 supernovae as part of the Pucket Supernova Search program.


    One of the most popular software applications used by astro-photographers in the production of images is Maxim DL- now in its fifth release! Doug's workshop will focus on many of the most frequently used Maxim tools:
    • Calibration
    • Stacking
    • Gradient Removal
    • Curves
    • Range-Restricted Filters
    • Color Processing
     
     
     
    Jack Harvey
    Collaborator- PixInsight Development


    PixInsight Image Processing

    Developed and distributed on-line as a 30-day free trial, PixInsight is a powerful imaging processing program created by a team of young, international developers with expertise in astronomy, mathematics and software. The core PixInsight application includes powerful graphical, command-line and scripting user interfaces. The application's extreme flexibility can also make it appear daunting to the first time user so this workshop will demonstrate and explain how to harness its processing possibilities.

    Jack lives on Coyote Rim Ranch in the Colorado mountains with his wife Gina. An observatory housing the Trubble Terrestrial Telescope is on the ranch, and is part of SkyNet. This is a project that automatically and remotely controls telescopes in Chile and the USA to chase Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs). Once a GRB is detected by the orbiting NASA Swift Satellite, ground based telescopes are alerted to track and image the GRB. The SkyNet telescope network is also available for educational outreach purposes for high school and college projects.

    This collaboration with Prof. Daniel Reichert (UNC-CH), director of SkyNet, led to the modification of one of the 6 science telescopes at CTIO to do both wide and narrow band imaging. SSRO-S was created upon culmination of a trip to Chile with the installation of the modifications to the telescope. Jack is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a special collaborator to the PixInsight development team.
     
     
     
    Ron Wodaski
    Author, Director- Tzec Maun Foundation Observatories


    T-Point Made Simple for accurate tracking and precision polar alignment

    With great power comes great responsibility or, in the case of TPoint, a complex set of features. Learn the inner secrets of this powerful tool from Ron Wodaski. Ron is the author of Automapper, the program that automates TPoint data collection. Itís not the automation, itís the model, If you've ever scratched your head over how to process a TPoint model, this course is for you. You'll learn how to create a model that will give you very accurate polar alignment and telescope pointing.

    Ron Wodaski is the author of The New CCD Astronomy and other books about CCD Imaging. Many consider Ron to be the father of modern CCD astrophotography! His original book and its subsequent sequel convinced hundreds, if not thousands, of amateurs to begin producing astronomical images. He currently is director of the Tzec Maun Foundationís Observatories. The Foundation provides free access to telescopes via the Internet to students and researchers. See http://www.tzecmaun.org for more information
     
     
     
    Mike Rice
    Founder, Proprietor- New Mexico Skies


    Remote Imaging- Answering Practical Questions

    Remote imaging is becoming an increasingly popular method of pursuing astrophotography because it can offer the benefit of working under a dark nightsky far from the glare of city lights. This session will address many of the most fundamental and practical issues involved with successfully (and routinely) gathering high quality data from a remote site. These include equipment and communications requirements; failure proofing and redundancy and a comparison between managed hosting and true remote operation.

    Mike Rice is the well known and highly regarded operator of one of the world's preeminent remote hosting services, New Mexico Skies. Mike's interest extends to his early years when, at age nine, he constructed his first telescope- a six-inch reflector- based on plans published by Scientific American magazine. When Comet West made its historic 1976 appearance, Mike chose it as his first astrophotographic subject. Mike built is first digital camera in 1994 and, within a year, placed it in a remote observatory that was 50 miles from the nearest connection to the power grid and the closest access road. Located in Alaska and controlled by UHF ham radio over a 120 mile link, this remote observatory gave early evidence of Mike's resolve and technical prowess in the face of overwhelmingly unfavorable odds.

    MIke and his wife, Lynn, established New Mexico Skies Observatories in 1997. They initiated their first remote project in 2001 as a joint venture with Software Bisque. Known as the Student Telescope Network, it attracted over 1,000 student imager registrations. Today, New Mexico Skies hosts 42 remote, Internet controlled observatories- 11 located in Western Australia with the balance high in the south-central Sacramento mountains, near Mayhill, New Mexico.
     
     
     
    Bob Denny
    Founder- DC-3 Dreams
    Principal developer- ACP Observatory Control


    Automation and Remote Imaging the Easy Way

    Both the quantity and the quality of raw image data are the foundations of successful art astronomy. Automated image acquisition is essential to getting the most out of your observatory. When that's still not enough, you can move your observatory to a remote location which provides both better image quality and more usable imaging time. Remote imaging clearly requires automation.

    First introduced in 1999, adding web-based automation in 2002, ACP Observatory Control Software has evolved towards ease of use as well as flexibility. This presentation will begin by discussing the reasons for combining automation and web control, who is using ACP, and a bit about how it works and how to use it. After this, a new approach to scheduling image acquisition will be covered. This will be an informal talk, with plenty of question and answer time throughout.

    Bob Denny has been involved full time for over ten years developing new- generation astronomy software, focusing on astronomy automation as well as remote observatory operation through a web browser (for which automation is a prerequisite). He is also the originator and still a primary evangelist for the ASCOM Initiative, which has freed astronomy software developers from having to write low-level control code for the myriad of computer-controllable astronomy instruments and devices that have appeared in recent years.

    Bob is quick to say that he is not an astronomer; he is an engineer and software designer. However he has a thorough knowledge of the needs of both science and art astronomers and their technologies. Software has been his real love for most of his life, having written his first program in 1963. Since then he has worked on a wide range of machines using a wide variety of languages. In addition, he is an expert with the latest web technologies and browser-based scripting in Javascript.

    In the past, Bob has worked as a broadcast television engineer (while attending University), ten years in aerospace engineering and flight test, consulting for EMM and Xerox on special projects, then founding and operating a medium sized software business as CEO for fourteen years. Following that, he developed the first web server on Windows, made Visual Basic a web back-end programming language, and created the first Java based web server back-end.

    Bob holds a BSEE from the University of Arizona, an FAA pilot's license with multi-engine and instrument ratings, and numerous certifications related to his volunteer law enforcement work with the Maricopa County (AZ) Sheriff's Office. Bob is enthusiastic about almost everything!
     
     
     
    Stan Moore
    Principal Developer- CCDStack


    CCDStack Image Processing

    CCDStack is a software tool that allows the user to visualize and control sophisticated processing of Deep Space images. This session will explore advanced techniques for obtaining optimal images from CCD and DSLR cameras. Special topics will include: program design; processing overview; theories of data rejection; special considerations for One Shot Color (Bayer); color dynamics; managing computer resources; advanced pixel math; and more.
    Stan Moore is a professional programmer and long time astro-imager. His interest and investigations into the mathematics of astronomical signal processing combined with insight from statistical analysis programming inspired the creation of CCDStack. The growing community of users and the increasing sophistication of that community continue to drive the evolution of the software.
     
     
     
    Mike Unsold
    Founder and Principal Developer- ImagesPlus


    ImagesPlus Image Processing

    The session will demonstrate and explain the use of ImagesPlus to perform automated multithreaded CCD, OSC CCD, and DSLR image set processing.

    Mike's background is in teaching mathematics at Kent State University and numerous software projects since the 1970's. Eleven years ago, Mike started writing ImagesPlus software application and, today, it represents his full time passion. Mike is one of the world's leading DSLR astronomical imagers.
     
     
     
    Matt Thomas
    Founder and Principal Developer- CCD Commander

    CCD Commander Imaging Automated Imaging

    Interested in automated imaging, but don't know where to start? Or do you have everything you need to run remotely but aren't happy with other solutions? CCD Commander is a simple to use, yet incredibly powerful imaging automation tool. Matt Thomas will discuss topics from setting up a simple automated session to more advanced multi-target topics.

    Matt Thomas was born in Santa Barbara, California. After graduating with a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UC Santa Barbara, Matt began a career developing software and digital hardware for a test equipment manufacturer near San Jose. Comet Hale-Bopp spurred Matt's interest in astronomy along with trips to Lick Observatory to view through the 36" refractor and 40" Nickel Reflector.

    After returning to Santa Barbara in 1999, Matt began pursuing film astrophotography. In 2003, Matt switched to CCD imaging. Too many sleepless nights imaging - especially with two young children- led Matt to develop CCD Commander. Matt continues to work with portable test equipment, add new features to CCD Commander, consult with a local astronomy vendor, image at a remote observatory in New Mexico, and still finds time to spend with his family.