Day 2 at the Advanced Imaging Conference (AIC), in Santa Clara, California, started with a bang. The AIC Board of Directors presented its prestigious Hubble Award to Ron Wodaski. They bestow this honor on individuals who have demonstrated significant and sustained contributions to the astrophotography community over a period of years. Ron was one of the earliest CCD imagers. Many imagers consider his 2002 book, The New CCD Astronomy, the hobby’s bible. After the short presentation and applause, Ron gave an illustrated lecture.
He recounted a bit of his history, including the impact the book made. He also talked about being one of the first to promote remote access to a large telescope under a dark, steady sky when he opened Black Bird Observatory in New Mexico. It featured a 20-inch telescope and a sensitive CCD camera that was available to anyone with Internet access for a modest hourly fee.
Today, Ron is director of the Tzec Maun Foundation, a nonprofit group offering students and researchers free access to a variety of high-quality astronomical instruments in New Mexico and Australia. The long-anticipated centerpiece will be a state-of-the-art 1-meter telescope located in a refurbished former government tracking station. Ron talked about this fabulous facility. It’s four stories high and the doors weigh 14 tons. That’s impressive, but not as impressive as the dome. It tips the scales at 105 tons!
Eventually, the Tzec Maun Foundation plans to make even this telescope available to astronomers around the world. More than 300 AIC members certainly got excited when they heard that.
You’ll find more about the AIC at the conference website. To see more than 100 images by many AIC members, visit Astronomy magazine’s AIC online photo gallery.
You’ll find my three previous conference blogs here (#1), here (#2), and here (#3). And the conference isn’t over, so I’m not done yet!