[2005 March 12]
Christopher Middleton is based in Kyalami, where he has two Meade LX200GPS telescopes in a self-built observatory over his office. The telescope piers travel through the roof of his office into the observatory floor. "Reason it's up there," he writes, "is due to my plot being very treed (I am a tree doctor and gardener by day) and I resent cutting any trees down."
A visual observer on-and-off for the past 25r years, Christopher has only recently begun experimenting with CCD imaging. For monochrome photography, he uses a Starlight Xpress MX716. Recently, he has bought a one-shot colour Starlight Xpress SXV H9C also.
Christopher has had to customize his Meade for close polar photography by having a converted field flattener built. "The standard Meade field flattener extends too far out the back of the scope and prohibits the scope from passing through the fork arms. Field flattener modifications designed by Bruce Dickson and manufactured by a machine shop in Pretoria North."
Besides imaging and visual observing, Christopher has also begun submitting data to the Center for Backyard Astrophysics on cataclysmic variable stars. "My data can definitely be improved upon, unlike Berto Monard's," he jokes. "I also occasionally submit double-star observations to Brian Mason" at the US Naval Observatory.
What motivates him to do astronomy? "How can anyone NOT be motivated by the night sky?" Christopher says. "The fact that it is comprehensible is its incomprehensibility! We sit so far from all of it, yet we understand how it works. As my day job suggests I am very much an outdoors guy and the beauty of the sky is beyond words."
Check out Christopher's website, SkyOwls, for more, or contact him via e-mail to [email@example.com]