is a little background on our speakers, their interests
and the topics of their talks.
April 14th, 2012
Professional - Amateur Collaboration
Bruce Koehn, Research Scientist
Bruce’s major research interests include near-Earth
object discovery, real-time computer programming, and image processing.
He works with Dr. Ted Bowell on the LONEOS project searching for
near-Earth objects that may impact our planet.
Gerard van Belle
October 12, 2012
Gerard van Belle, Astronomer
Gerard’s research concentrates on the fundamental
properties of stars — masses, linear radii, and temperatures. These
parameters tell us about the internal structure and evolution of stars,
which in turn is essential in understanding the plethora of new planets
being discovered about nearby stars. He has also applied his interests
in the highest-resolution, highest-precision, astronomical techniques to
detect such planets and map the surfaces of stars.
Gerard has worked on every major optical
interferometer on the planet, including the Infrared-Optical Telescope
Array, the Palomar Testbed Interferometer, the CHARA Array, the Very
Large Telescope Interferometer, and the Keck Interferometer. His
pioneering stellar surface imaging work on PTI won him the first
director’s research award at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
October 11, 2003
Professionally, Brent Archinal received his PhD from the Ohio State
University Department of Geodetic Science and Surveying in 1987. For 13
years he was employed as an Astronomer at the U. S. Naval Observatory in
Washington, D. C. His work there centered on performing research into
methods for more accurately determining the Earth's orientation and
improving the coordinate systems of the Earth and sky. In May of 2000
Brent began professional work on coordinate systems for the other bodies
of the solar system with particular emphasis on improving the control
network for the planet Mars and high-resolution mapping of proposed 2004
Mars landing sites.
Brent has also been an active amateur astronomer for many years. While
attending Ohio State during the latter 1970's and early 1980's, his
interest in observational and amateur astronomy grew. During this same
time period he also became active in various astronomy clubs where he
served in several official capacities, including as President, of the OSU
Astronomy Club and the Columbus Astronomical Society. More recently he has
been a member of the Richland (Ohio) Astronomical Society, the Northern
Virginia Astronomy Club, and now the Coconino (Arizona) Astronomical
He has long advocated that visual observers "push the envelope"
of what is thought possible. After becoming one of the first to publicize
the "Messier Marathon" during the early 1980¹s, in 2001 he
become the first (and at this writing, only known) person to observe all
110 Messier objects in a single night using binoculars. He made perhaps
the first documented naked eye observation of the M 81 galaxy in 1995, the
farthest object visible to the unaided human eye. In 1987, along with Bob
Bunge, he made possibly the first known visual observation of a
gravitational lens, the double quasar in Ursa Major.
Brent has a long interest in correcting various problems in the catalogs
available to amateur and professional astronomers. His recent book
(co-authored with Steve Hynes) on star clusters and the
included catalog of star clusters is a direct outgrowth of that interest.
In recognition of this work, in 2000 the International Astronomical Union
named the minor planet no. 11941 Archinal. Brent currently resides near
Flagstaff, Arizona with his wife JoAnne.
June 28, 2003
Comba grew up in Italy. He was always interested in astronomy - his
parents had an astronomer friend who encouraged his interest. When he was
14 he got his first telescope, a 4 inch refractor. He now has
an 18 inch reflector with a ST8-E CCD.
came to America in 1946 at the age of 20 on a mathematics scholarship to Cal-Tech.
He received his PHD in mathematics there in
1951. He taught Mathematics
at the University of Hawaii until
1960, when he joined IBM as a
interest in asteroids was piqued when he took "The Pilcher
Challenge" to observe a specified number of
asteroids visually. He
far exceeded the target - eventually observing 1280 visually!
discovered his first asteroid in 1995, photographically. It
was mag 16 , much brighter than the 19th & 20th mag asteroids he now routinely discovers. All subsequent discoveries were
with the CCD - his total discoveries to
date: 1145. He usually observes 13 nights a month, with three hours
each night spent in the observatory and three to four hours per night at
the computer in his study.
is the author of the Asteroid
Club Observing Guide published by the Astronomical League. A pdf
version of this document is available at http://www.corvus.com/pdf/al-asteroid.pdf
& June 21
Tyler E. Nordgren is Assistant Professor of
Physics at University of Redlands, CA, and on the staff at Lowell
He has been
part of the team working with the Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer (NPOI)
at Flagstaff. You can read an article written by
Dr. Nordgren titled "Plumbing the Depths of Polaris" by clicking
Another interesting article
by him is titled "The Optical Interferometer: Completing the Work of
Another instrument, the Multi-channel
Fourier Transform Spectrometer (mFTS) developed by Dr. Nordgren and others
at the USNO, Flagstaff, may enable the detection of Earth-sized planets in
orbits around other stars. Here is a link
to an article about this effort.
You can also read about the C-N
(Chengalur-Nordgren) Galaxy Pair Sample, which is an ongoing project
to determine the dark matter content of individual galaxies by using
observations of the relative motions of galaxies in pairs. Dr. Nordgren's
graduate work was on galaxy pairs.
No doubt we will hear about these and
other "Unusual Objects" and the methods of observing them.
is a link to his web page, updated as of Sept. 3, 2002.
August 16, 2003
Tom Polakis is a Contributing
Editor of Astronomy magazine. He is a mechanical engineer in the aircraft
engine industry. In his 25 years of involvement in amateur astronomy, his
primary interest is the visual observation of the aesthetic beauty of
astronomical objects combined with an awareness of what one is seeing. His
writing about this subject has culminated in the Celestial Portraits
series of observing articles that have appeared regularly in Astronomy
magazine since 1998.
Tom also has an interest in
astro-photography, particularly that which can be accomplished using
simple equipment. When he isn't observing, he can be found pretending to
be younger than he really is by playing roller hockey and ultimate
This write-up was taken from
Astronomy Magazine's Staff Biographies. Click here to get the complete
July 19, 2003
on the Board of AVV as Member-at-Large. It's hard to say how he came by
that title (clearly not as a result of his physique). Most would say a
better title would be “Renaissance Dude”. What is obvious is that he
is interested in a great many things - he runs his own software and
consulting business, travels incessantly, loves music and astronomy and is
active on the Boards of Chamber Music Sedona and the Astronomers of Verde
Valley, is into computers and gadgets, owns three dogs (two bearded
collies and a border collie) and is neck deep into herding trials. If he
didn't have his wife, Betty, to help him, you'd wonder where he found the
time to do half the things he undertakes.
Rob lives in Sedona
(intermittently, as his travels permit) with Betty, Watson, Scooter and
Dixie. Besides deserving sainthood for putting up with all this, his wife
Betty has claimed herding championships with Dixie, the border collie. But
that, as they say, is another story.
redeems his "at-large" status by periodically entertaining and
informing his fellow club members with well-researched talks on diverse
subjects. We all remember his discourse on the Herschels - William,
Caroline and John. Now he proposes to attack the rich lode of lore
surrounding Isaac Newton. This should be interesting.