How I got lost in space

When you view my astrophotography on Facebook and Instagram, do you wonder how the heck I’m doing this? Well, more than a few of you have asked, so I thought I’d write a short bit of background on the process. If you’re interested in learning more, please reach out to me via my socials!

I dove headfirst into this hobby during the summer of 2017 when a total lunar eclipse cut across North Georgia. I picked up a used Celestron reflector telescope, one I’d lusted for as a preteen in all those gift catalogs. I finally owned one! And with that purchase, the descent began.

I’ve often said this is the hardest hobby I’ve ever had. It requires patience first and foremost, but also software, hardware, mechanical, weather, design, and more skills. But I’ve only recently found it rewarding. The tipping point was our new backyard. In our old place, there was simply no view of the sky unobstructed by trees unless I hauled my gear to Grant Park and hung out there into questionable hours of the night with my expensive gear. But our new place has a backyard garden with very clear views of much of the sky. And behind a secure gate, I can leave my gear up all night while I sleep.

Curious about the process? Here’s a glimpse of the essentials ⏳💫:

1️⃣ Choosing the Right Telescope: Quality glass and craftsmanship are vital, ensuring precise imaging without visual artifacts or focus inconsistencies. For the most part, I use refractor telescopes that use high-quality glass that reduces distortion and other defects that result in blurry or off-color images.

2️⃣ Mount: A sturdy and reliable mount is the backbone of our astrophotography setup. It allows me to precisely align and track celestial objects, compensating for the Earth’s rotation.

3️⃣ Alignment: To achieve accurate tracking, each night I have to meticulously align my mount with the North Celestial Pole, which is just slightly off-center from Polaris, the North Star. This alignment enables me to avoid star trails and freeze my deep-space subjects in a fixed position during long exposures, often 5 minutes or more.

4️⃣ Focus: Maintaining sharp focus throughout the night is essential. I use an automated focuser that periodically adjusts the focus on its own, ensuring my images remain crisp and detailed. This automation allows me to keep the system in focus while I sleep.😴

5️⃣ Tracking: My mount (the piece of gear the scope sits on top of) is equipped with a precise motor to track celestial objects accurately. It moves at the same speed as the Earth’s rotation, effectively “freezing” deep-space subjects in the frame during long exposures and capturing intricate details over extended periods.

6️⃣ Astro Camera: Dedicated astrophotography cameras with cooled sensors reduce heat-generated noise, preserving details in my image captures. I am currently what’s known as a one-shot color camera, meaning, like a typical digital camera, the camera sensor has an array of red, green, and blue filters over each pixel. So with one shot, I capture all three colors and a full-color image. I’m shopping for a monochrome camera; as the name suggests, it shoots in black & white. A mono camera is something like 4X as sensitive to light as one-shot color, as it gathers light unimpeded by an array of RGB filters. With mono, I can put whatever filters I’d like in front of the camera, helping dramatically with urban light pollution by using very narrowband filters that keep city light out of my pics.

7️⃣ Filters: Speaking of filters, even with my one-shot color camera, I’m using specialized astronomy filters that pass only a narrow band of light, combating light pollution and revealing far more detail and far faster than shooting without. I’ll eventually move to a mono camera and use filters specific for hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur emissions.

8️⃣ Processing all these images: Some seriously arcane stuff is going on in the workflow that produces these end results. I use a program called Pixinsight, essentially a Photoshop-like program custom-built for astrophotography. But that description barely scratches the surface. The entire program is driven by Javascript, and users can write their own custom algorithms to process their deep-space photography. This step is where I take all the images, align, remove optical defects, stretch to reveal more data, adjust color and enhance detail. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface there. 🎨✨ It’s also a slow process. A typical night of imaging will result in a collection of a few hundred images, and even my nearly-new Mac Studio runs for 30+ minutes with every processor pushed to 100%.

I hope this background is helpful! Please reach out via my socials if you need any help.

Quarantine Cocktails

Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina got it right: “Happy families are all alike;” and I’ll add “so are cocktails, at least until a global pandemic takes hold.”
Therein lies the inspiration for this journey through the world of spirits and their myriad concoctions. After the lockdown began in March 2020, it took me a few months to realize that a daily cocktail might be an interesting way of distraction. 

Mind you, I think I’d had the same few bottles on hand for years: a bottle of bourbon, another of rye, a nasty coconut rum, some vodka, a few tequilas from when Amy and I took a trip to Mexico’s Isla Mujeres before we were married along with 4 bottles of Kahlua. I have no idea why so many. I’d been introduced to the Aviation at some point, and thought I’d start there.

So I tracked down a bottle of Creme de Violette – there’s a long history to that liqueur I’ll save for another entry – as well as Luxardo maraschino cherry liqueur. After that, I needed to find more things to create. That led to picking up one modern cocktail book, then another and another. Pretty soon I’m Instagramming my way to a really nice collection of cocktail recipes and a few of my own musings about most of them. 

Here in mid-January 2021, as the world continues to do that crazy thing we’ve been dealing with for almost a year (pandemic, civil unrest, attempted insurrection, the (blessed) election of Joe Biden & Kamal Harris, as well as Georgia turning blue in not one but TWO elections) I’ve made about 150 unique drinks. This blog will be an attempt at documenting these and letting my friends track their favorites down – something Instagram and Facebook don’t really facilitate all that well. 

I hope you’ll join me on this journey. There is so much more to the cocktail than I ever realized. Let’s go!


Posted on 5/30/2020, 6/12/2020 and 7/8/2020.

So here’s #ryanreynolds Aviation Gin in an Aviation cocktail. Love the herbal notes from the Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette balanced by the tart lemon and sweetness via Luxardo maraschino liqueur. Way too easy to drink. Tragically this lovely crystal glass gave its life shortly after these pics. This is essentially the classic recipe, but I added the bitters for some additional botanical notes. At my friend Susie Fellman’s suggestion, I’ll have to try substituting St-Germain Elderflower liqueur (referred to in the industry as ‘bartender’s ketchup’) in place of the simple syrup. #aviationgin #luxardo #rothmanandwinter #bittercube #stgermain #cremedeviolette

A perfect aviation on a perfect summer afternoon.


5 minutes


  • 2 oz Plymouth Gin
  •  ¼ oz Creme de Violette
  •  1 tsp Maraschino Liqueur 
  •  0.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  •  0.50 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)
  • 2 Drops Bittercube Bolivar Bitters
  • 1 Cherry (as garnish)


  1. Add all ingredients to shaker, add ice then immediately shake for around 15 seconds.
  2. Double strain into a chilled coupe.
  3. Garnish with the cherry.

Photos, musings and miscellany – New and Improved!