Amateur Telescope Making
My Imaging Setup
My Kite Page
My name is Steve Bell, and I am from Bradley, Illinois, a small town about sixty miles south of Chicago. My interests in astronomy include digital imaging, telescope making, and deep sky observing. Each of these areas are a part of the hobby, but very much different from each other.
Digital Imaging is my most recent obsession. I purchased a Meade DSI (Deep Sky Imager) Pro, which is much like modern digital cameras, but designed specifically for use with a telescope and the sky. It has been a fun and interesting ride learning to use this new toy, and the images aren't turning out half bad! See my images in the Astrophoto Gallery.
Growing up in a hardware store, I spent my share of time playing with pipe fittings, nuts and bolts, and anything I could find to 'improve' my telescopes. Having limited funds available for my hobby, I became an Amateur Telescope Maker (ATM) out of necessity. For me, much of the challenge and enjoyment of the hobby is designing, picking out the parts at the local hardware store, and building my own equipment. You would be surprised at how many uses you can find for pipe fittings and building materials! (and Duct Tape!!!) The 16" telescope I'm posing with on this page is one such project. It was bought second-hand, and I spent a lot of time modifying it to work the way I wanted it to work.
I've been playing around with 3D images for the last 7 years, and even managed to get some published in the French "Ciel & Espace" magazine (Nov., 2004) Dig out your red/blue 3D viewing glasses, or try 'cross-eyed' or 'relaxed' to see the universe in three dimensions at my 3D Astrophotography link.
Since I've been working with the DSI, I have found that much of my current equipment, including mounts, optics, and electronics, are not quite what I need for my imaging goals. I bought a computer controlled GOTO mount from a friend (thanks, Mike!) and I am in the process of retrofitting everything to work with the new mount.
My most recent project is remaking the 8" f/4 newtonian to use with the DSI. I am also working on a permanent observatory in my back yard, which entails a pier, enclosure, (roll-off roof or dome) new optical configurations, (8" f/4 and 10" f/5) and remote control from my living room...and maybe more. I'm also working on my tracking platform and a webcam for the 16" for some high-res lunar and planetary imaging. I will be updating my Amateur Telescope Making pages with these projects soon.
Telescopes and other equipment are fun, and take up a lot of my 'cloudy night' time, but my real reason for all of this is my passion for the night sky. When I was 13, (39 years ago!) my parents bought me a small telescope for Christmas, and with my first look at Saturn, I was hooked for life! To this day, one of my favorite things is to turn someone on to Saturn or Jupiter through a 'scope for the first time. As the years have progressed, my interests have turned to deep sky observing...looking for the 'faint fuzzies'...galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters...that are at the limits of my and my equipment's capabilities.
I am a member of our local astronomy club, the Kankakee Area StarGazers. If you are from the Kankakee area, or just want to network with some fellow avid (sometimes strange) amateur astronomers, please visit our web site, and attend one of our meetings if you are in the area, on the first Saturday of the month at 10:00 am at Strickler Planetarium on Olivet Nazarene University's campus in Bourbonnais.
I hope you enjoy my site!
You are visitor number
since March 22, 2006!
Click on the graphic above for more detailed information about local predicted sky conditions for the next 48 hours.