Mission

Astronomy-Watch.org is an informative site for the beginning and novice amateur astronomers and is intended for educational use. I will post interesting information about the world of planetary, stellar and space exploration. I will use tools available from the internet as well as applications that I have purchased for personal use to illustrate events happening in the night's sky.

I first started Astronomy-Watch in 1995 and used this site as a platform for space news, information and nightly blog of my viewing experiences. I started blogging about my nightly observations and uploaded original photos. I made my observations with an 8-inch Meade LX-90 EMC, and Cannon EOS 30D Digital SLR camera. My day job (as a Satellite Communications Engineer for the Boeing Company on the Sea Launch program) consumed all of my time as I traveled at sea for as many as 6 launches a year, I took a long break from my website. I'm back!

 

I first became interested in astronomy when I was about 9 years old. My father received a refractor telescope as a gift from my mother. My first memory is viewing the rings of Saturn. It was a mesmerizing sight. It's been some 45 years later and I can still see the multi-rings orbiting the brilliant disk. Then, there was Jupiter with its satellites rolling across the Gas Giant. I also recall to creators littering the moon. I was hooked!

My goal is to continue learning about space, and hopefully draw curiosity from others and share common interests. Please join me in my search for knowledge and grow experience in a voyage into the unknown.

 

 "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

     Carl Sagan

This is my brother Tom and I posing in front of my Dad's telescope in the late 70's in Los Angeles where we grew up. We lived in a town called El Sereno just a few miles from downtown L.A. This telescope was a Sears model and was a gift from my Mom to my Dad on Christmas, but don't know anymore details other than that about the telescope.
 
My first memory of peering through this telescope was the image of Saturn. Saturn was brilliant, and of coarse with its unmistakable rings blew my mind. For many years we enjoyed looking t through this scope and learning more about the sky.


circa 1977
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As I grew into a teenager, my interests were elsewhere and lost touch with the sky. I studied Electronics Engineering for a few years as my interest in electronics started when I was in El Sereno Junior High School (which is what we called Middle School back then). My interest in electronics grew, and I then took vocational studies in electronics at Woodrow Wilson High School in Los Angeles. I continue my education for two years attending I.T.T Technical Institute having completing an Associates in Electronics Engineering Technology. During the time I was attending I.T.T. Tech, I had an instructor that retired from the Army, and would tell stories of how he obtained his knowledge in electronics and communications. This is where I had the idea of obtaining more resources for education and hands-on working experience.

I entered the U.S. Army with a guarantee of obtaining training in the Military Occupational Skill as (29M) Tactical Satellite Microwave Radio Repair. The training I received was a 9 months at Ft. Gordon, GA. Upon completing the schooling, my first duty station was in Ft. Hood, TX. I arrived in Ft. Hood in late June, and 4 days later, Iraq invaded Kuwait.

As I had been engaged in Dec of 89 to a wonderful girl I met while in High School (1983), we planned on getting married once Sonialisa completed college at U.C. Irvine in 1990. We married, and three weeks later I was deployed to Saudi Arabia in the area of Dhahran for the Persian Gulf War on Oct 30 1990. I was in country for 11 months and 23 days (operations Desert Shield, Storm and the Liberation of Kuwait), and received 3 campaign stars for service and Army Achievement Awards for my part in providing satellite communications and maintaining microwave radio equipment. 

Upon separation from the Army (1994), I moved back to California. I accompanied my wife's Uncle Pete on a hunting trip in Dixie National Forrest in Utah. One evening as we began relaxing in front of the camp fire, I started looking into the sky and said to Pete, "Hey, looks like clouds are starting to roll in." Pete stated that those were not clouds but the Milky Way stars. I was flabbergasted to realize that the clouds I thought I seen were actually stars from our own Galaxy. This was my second beginning into astronomy.

I completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Electronics Engineering Technology and began working as a junior engineer for Hughes Electronics at DirecTV's California Broadcast Center in Long Beach CA. from 1997 to 2005. I then accepted a position with the Boeing Company for the Sea-Launch Program in Long Beach, CA. This is my first experience in a space program. I was the External Engineer for the Satellite Communications System for both the Assembly Command Ship and Launch Platform. I was also certified as External Communications Coordinator which earned me a seat in the Launch Control Center where I report the status of the SATCOM System to the System Support Manager and Mission Director. I participated in 15 at-sea launch from 2005 through 2009.

In 2002, I purchased a Meade LX-90 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope. Here agin I was looking at planetary and deep-sky objects as when I was a child with my Dad. I began sketching thee craters of the moon and dust storms of Mars. One early morning on February 1, 2003 I was up to view the stars and watch the Space Shuttle Columbia fly through for a landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. As the shuttle flew by, I noticed that it had a distinct orange contrail, unlike any other fly-bys that I witnessed, but I did not know what was happening. Unfortunately, I was witnessing the Shuttle Columbia Disaster as it flew over California. I later went back into the house to view the landing on the Internet, to only hear silence. I few minutes later I heard the commentator announce that there was obviously a failure, and that rescue teams were being dispatched. NASA were searching for persons that witnessed the event in their local areas. I gave a written report to NASA, and I received a letter of recognition on the report that I provided as I seen from Southern California. 

In 2010, then began working for DRS Technologies as a SATCOM Systems Analyst at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. I supported 64 remote satellite V-SAT terminals located throughout the globe for the Multi-Media Communications System (MMCS) for the U.S. Army. In 2013, I began working for Comtech TCS as a Ground Station Systems Engineer designing and supporting two Telemetry Tracking Ground Stations that we were contracted by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Guam and Christmas Island Kiribati in the Pacific. As there are only a two thousand people on Christmas Island, the skies were unpolluted and I felt as if I could reach out and touch the stars. 

{more to come}