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Friday, May 24, 2024

September Star Night at the LTO

LTOFriday, 16 Sep 2016 from 7:00 – 11:00 PM

Public Star Night at the Little Thompson Observatory, 850 Spartan Ave at Berthoud High School (park east of the high school; directions are posted on the website )

The speaker for this public star night will be Ray Martin from Laramie, Wyoming. The title of his talk will be “Ramblings of an Old Stargeezer”

With 60 years plus as both an amateur and professional astronomer there are tales to be told like the time he held the focuser of Hale’s 12-inch refractor in his hands under the floor of the 40” at Yerkes or how he kanoodled his way into the 200” dome with 20 of his friends and colleagues from the Hughes Astronomy Club, when it was considered absolutely impossible.

The many instruments he has designed and built with the amateur astronomer in mind, and how he became a BIKER, riding of all things, a Harley, while still doing astronomy and how that worked as Planetarium Director.

The nights spent with his colleagues and friends on the 2.3 meter telescope and what some old familiar objects look like with pitch black skies and 90 inches of aperture, only ten inches shy of what was the largest telescope in the world and maybe just a few other boring adventures to share.


But if he had to select a single source of wonder that has kept him active all these years it would have to be spectroscopy. He built his first spectroscope when he was eleven years old and has not stopped building them since. He will be bringing a couple of his homebuilt spectroscopes (both stellar and solar) to the talk as examples of what can be accomplished with a few simple tools and a zest for exploring new worlds.

Ray Martin worked as a Spacecraft Technician on both the Saturn V and the Apollo Command Modules, at least two of which went to the moon (CSM-110, Apollo 14, Kitty Hawk and CSM-112, Apollo 15, Endeavor). He went on to Hughes Aircraft to work on earth satellites and then to Ball Aerospace as an Optical Production Engineer. He and his wife owned Martins Star Tracker, a science and astronomy store in Boulder and later he became a certified Harley Davidson Mechanic.

At the University of Wyoming he wore a few hats in the Physics & Astronomy department including Project Coordinator, Observatory Engineer at the Red Buttes Observatory and the Director of the Planetarium. Currently he is the Senior Optical and Mechanical Technician at Welldog (Gas Sensing Technology) building Raman Spectrometers and associated instrumentation

Weather permitting after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through the large telescope at various celestial objects. Public star nights are held the third Friday of each month (except July, when the LTO is closed for annual maintenance). No reservations are necessary for these nights. Just come and join in for the talk and some observing afterwards.

If you have any questions, please call the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at:

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