This page last updated April 10 2009.
To email me, see see my ordering Web page for my email addresses.
I've been an amateur astronomer since about 1990. This page shows some of the things I've done, places I've visited to observe, and some of the local astronomy clubs I've been associated with. It's not complete or current, regretably.
My astronomy activities::
As my wife is a quilter, she convinced me to make a "simple" quilt in May 1999. I saw Jupiter,
with its pastel bands in a black sky, as a good subject. This quilt measures about 13 inches
square (the apparent short side is the camera's fault). My wife was pleased enough with the result that she showed it with her quilts at a local show of her quilt guild. The members thought it was a "great first effort".
The New Jersey Astronomical Association (NJAA) has been around for over 40 years.
It has an observatory with a 26-inch telescope and dome, and a public meeting
and storage facility, at Vorhees State park in High Bridge NJ. I was a member for several years. I rebuilt some
telescopes and a 1940's lathe. The NJAA Web site is at
Here's a 1998 interior shot of the Amateur Astronomical
Association of Princeton's
Simpson Observatory at a nearby state park just outside of Trenton NJ.
Several club members are preparing the Observatory for winter operation.I was a member for several years.
The telescope in the back is a 12.5 inch f/6 reflector (big mirror). (This scope
is now at their new observatory in northern New Jersey. It was replaced with
a Celestron C-14 and a Software Bisque mount.) The foreground
telescope is a Hastings-Byrne 6-inch refractor (6-inch lens) that was built in the 1880's.
Despite the flaky paint it is a good telescope, used in its time for critical
observations of the Sun. (The original mount as pictured was replaced a few years ago, and the refractor tube replaced, and it is still in operation today.) A Web site for the AAAP is
From 2003-2006, I attended meetings of the ATM (amateur telescope making) group of the STAR astronomy club, which meets in south New Jersey. Their ATM group met at Gordon Waite's facilities during that period. Check their Web site for details. In 2003-04 I figured an 8-inch mirror there. In 2005-06 I ground a mirror there from scatch.
Tom Droege died in Feb 2008, active in the survey and in development almost to the last. As of August 2008 it's not clear what the future of the TASS survey will be. Active Web sites include Michael Sallman's database site, part of the TASS site run by Michael Richmond at RIT. As of April 2009, Michael is still "building" a terabyte server to hold Tom's old data. Read his 2008 status report here.
In support of the Mark IV, in Nov 1999 I did some dark current analysis of Mark IV image files from Tom's #5 CD-ROM, distributed in late Oct 1999 by Tom. I also analysed coma and saturation in the early Mark IV disk #5 images. (That coma went away when they properly re-assembled their lens system.) I also chronicled their discussions of data compression of TASS star images, archiving devices for TASS star images, and discussions of Mark III time references and VCO rates.
One of my more comprehensive Tech Notes was #57, on Mark III sites and databases. It is a compliation of information about the Mark III cameras: who had them, who used them, what software they used, and what they did with the data. There are Web pointers to the host sites for each camera. I consider this a very useful Tech Note for anyone trying to make sense of what TASS was all about in that era. Other Tech notes from that period describe what was done with the data collected at that time. My involvement was primarily with the Mark III and early Mark IV development. I have a broken Mark III camera - one of the few not destroyed by time or weather! As of 2001 I became inactive in TASS.
See the TASS Web page at http://www.tass-survey.org , and work your way over to the "technical section" and then to the "TASS Tech Notes" to see the many TN's submitted by my TASS colleagues and myself.
In 1998 I evaluated the Orion finder telescope, as a test optic for a CCD camera under
development for TASS. I used the 12.5 inch telescope of the AAAP
to guide my 35mm Nikon FG camera and an Orion 400mm f/5 telescope for this 4-minute
exposure of the Orion Nebula, using Kodak MAX (800 speed color) film. The photo was taken about
an hour after sunset, 7PM -7:30PM on March 16th 1998 with Orion near the
meridian at about 45 degrees altitude. Here's some notes about how I did this.
Copyright © 2009 Herb Johnson
New Jersey, USA
check this link to email @ me
All photos taken by Herb Johnson.
Copyright © 2009 Herb Johnson