2019 Speakers

Keynote Speaker: Mel Bartels

“Fast Scopes and Faint Nebulae: discovering galactic cirrus”

Mel Bartels manages a software development team during daylight hours. During evenings Mel is an avid observer and telescope maker. He has sketched dozens of Integrated Flux Nebulae and hundreds of dark nebulae with his homebuilt fast reflectors. Interests in deep sky observing and cold camera astrophotography turned to large thin mirror grinding when he met John Dobson in 1980, being given a night on John’s 24″ at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. For the past decade Mel’s worked on grinding and figuring thin meniscus mirrors. Previously he developed an open-sourced telescope control system that became popular worldwide. A speaker at astronomical conferences, his telescope walkabouts are a highlight at the Oregon Star Party.


An outline of Mel’s talk is available at https://www.bbastrodesigns.com/presentations/Fast%20Scopes%20and%20Faint%20Nebulae/presentation.html

Larry McHenry: “Planetary Nebula: From Messier to Abell  (What are they and How to Observe Them)”
Planetary Nebula,,,,,, Colorful ephemeral ghosts, luminescent wispy shells of dying stars. Little crystal ball gems in the night sky, delighting amateur astronomers using small or large telescopes.,,,  So today, I would like to bring these ethereal objects ‘down to Earth’ by discussing what they are, why we call them that, some of the people, both historical and modern, behind these objects, and how to go about observing them.

Larry McHenry has been active in amateur astronomy for over 40 years, and is a member of the Kiski Astronomers from Southwestern Pennsylvania, in the Pittsburgh area, and the Oil Regional Astronomical Society (ORAS) in Northwest Pennsylvania. His favorite astronomical activities include solar  observing, video astronomy, and studying the mythology of the night sky. Larry is currently working on a project to video-observe all 2400 Herschel Objects. You can learn more about his interests, including his video-survey of the Constellations, and his home observatory, online at his webportal: http://www.stellar-journeys.org/

Trevor Jones:  “Amazing Deep Sky Images with your DSLR Camera”


Trevor Jones is the creator of AstroBackyard, a popular astrophotography website and YouTube Channel. From his light polluted backyard in the Ontario, Canada, he captures deep sky objects using a variety of camera and telescope equipment. Trevor brings his YouTube audience along for the ride, through every mistake, triumph, and especially run-ins with his black lab mix, Rudy.

Trevor is experienced with DSLR cameras, and image processing using Adobe Photoshop. In his talk “Amazing Deep Sky Images with your DSLR Camera”, he will explain how anyone can enjoy the hobby of astrophotography, right from their own backyard. His mix of passion for his craft, and willingness to share realistic ups and downs of being an everyday amateur astrophotographer is what made “AstroBackyard” a success.

He will cover everything from the beginner astrophotography equipment, to specific recommendations in the field, and behind the computer screen. Cherry Springs State Park is his “happy Place”, and you’ll understand why after his engaging talk at this years Black Forest Star Party.

He will cover everything from the beginner astrophotography equipment, to specific recommendations in the field, and behind the computer screen. Cherry Springs State Park is his “happy Place”, and you’ll understand why after his engaging talk at this years Black Forest Star Party.

Jeffrey Norwood: Confessions of a Lunatic Vendor: Our Life on the Road

Jeffrey Norwood is a graduate of Hofstra University with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and a Master’s Degree in Musicology and Music Theory from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. He has recently been awarded membership as a Fellow in the Royal Astronomical Society in the U.K. Last but certainly not least, he is an entrepreneur and the co-owner of Camera Concepts & Telescope Solutions in Stony Brook, NY which he founded in 1985. He is a lifelong teacher, lecturer, musician, photographer, and astronomer. 

Jeff is an individual of many talents who brings with him a lifetime of real world experience and has made significant scholarly contributions in the fields of music history and theory, astronomy, and photography. Currently lecturing at a wide variety of venues in the New York metropolitan area on each of these subjects, he is a tenacious, energetic, and enthusiastic individual who is also an active member of numerous non-profit organizations which are dedicated to the advancement of higher education in a variety of fields.