Jeff DeTray: Astronomy Boy
After more than two decades as an armchair astronomer, I stopped reading about it and resumed doing it in the winter of 1997, during the apparition of Comet Hale-Bopp. Like many others for whom Hale-Bopp rekindled a desire to observe the night sky, the comet marked my first return to "serious" astronomical observing in many years.
I used a department store telescope for a couple of years while in high school. With that modest instrument, I recall observing the Orion Nebula, splitting a few double stars, and making crude sketches of surface features on Mars.
In college I gained access to the University of Illinois' 1896-vintage 12-inch refractor. The highlight of my observing with the 12-inch was the 1973 transit of Mercury. A friend and I timed the event, and our results were published in Sky & Telescope -- quite a thrill!
When Hale-Bopp came along, I built a manually-operated barn door camera tracker to make time-exposure photos of the comet and began observing other astronomical objects with an old 7x35 binocular. A better binocular soon followed, then a small telescope, followed by a motor-driven barn door and a larger scope. My wife began calling me "Astronomy Boy" and suggested I register the domain name. And here we are!
I have a background in paper-and-ink publishing, having worked for nearly 20 years in the computer magazine business. Magazines of which I was publisher include Practical Windows, DOS World, I-Way, Portable Computing, and CD-ROM Review. In addition, I was editorial director for 80 Micro, inCider, RUN, and 73 Magazine. Under great duress, I can still write a DOS batch file or QBasic program.
I now observe the heavens from Black Swamp Observatory, my back yard in rural Ohio. I use a Celestron C5 5-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope on a CG-5 German equatorial mount.