Terry was born in England and migrated with his parents as a child to Australia in 1967. His interest in astronomy began when he was thirteen and found himself inspired by the writings of astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, and under the dark skies of the Australian outback he found what would ultimately be his life’s calling. Terry worked as a photographer until 1979, and from 1980 until 2000 he worked in the commercial sign industry in sales, design, and project management in Australia.
In the mid 1980’s Terry decided to combine his two loves – photography and astronomy into the hobby of astrophotography. His interest and skills continued to grow, spanning the transition from film to digital imaging. Terry’s astrophotos have been published by NASA and featured in Astronomy, Sky at Night, Sky & Telescope, Astronomy Now, National Geographic, The Daily Mail, Yahoo, Space.com, and many other well-known online publications.
In 2000 Terry moved to Western Michigan in the United States where he lived for 17 years still working in the commercial sign industry and engaging in astrophotography from his private backyard observatory. In 2016, he retired from his career in the commercial sign business to move to Colorado where he supervised the construction of the Grand Mesa Observatory, brought it to operational status, and now runs the day-to-day operations as its Director.
Terry also is a major contributor to astronomy education on the Western Slope of Colorado, giving talks about astrophotography to schools, clubs, libraries, and other organizations as part of Grand Mesa Observatory’s outreach program, and he operates downunderobservatory.com, an online astrophotography tutorial service, with instruction on equipment, and image acquisition and processing. This service reaches students all over the world. Several of Terry’s students have themselves earned APODs.
1. How long have you been an astrophotographer?
I first dabbled in astrophotography during the mid 80’s using film, but I later took up the craft more seriously with digital astrophotography from 2006 until the present.
2. What inspired you to become an astrophotographer?
Photography and astronomy have both been my hobbies since I was a child. Later on I decided to combine the two.
3. Where do you do most of your imaging?
The majority of my imaging is done from my backyard observatory, and some I do from the Stephen Wessling Observatory. Both are in Fremont, Michigan.
4. What’s your current equipment set-up (cameras, telescopes, and mounts)?
Cameras: QHY23, QHY11, QHY5IIL, StarlightXpress Lodestar
Telescopes: Astro-Tech AT12RC, Takahashi Epsilon E-180
Mount: Paramount GT1100S EQ Mount
5. Why did you choose this set of equipment?
I like to have one telescope for wide-field deep-sky imaging (the Tak E-180) and another telescope for smaller deep-sky objects (the AT12RC).
6. How many hours a month, on average, do you spend imaging?
Typically, depending on the weather, I spend 20-40 hours imaging.
7. What sights in the night sky do you still want to image, but haven’t yet?
There are an infinite number of objects I would like to image, certainly way too many to list here 🙂 This coming winter I would like to expand on my collection of images that make up my Orion Mosaic to eventually include Barnard’s Loop.
8. What motivates you to go out with a telescope to do the hard work of imaging night after night?
I don’t consider it hard work. I do this because it’s fun, it’s my passion and some might call it an addiction.
9. Do you have advice for beginning imagers?
Yes. First of all do not go out and buy a big Schmidt Cassegrain on a fork mount for imaging. I see occasionally dealers selling these scopes to beginners, and they are totally unsuitable for imaging for beginners. I recommend a small apochromatic refractor with an aperture of between 65-100mm, an EQ Mount with GOTO, and a Canon DSLR camera or, if you have the budget, a one-shot color CCD with good cooling for low-noise performance.
10. What you wish you knew when you got started?
Oh darn! I wish I had read this question before I gave the last answer :), I made the fatal mistake of buying a BIG Schmidt Cassegrain on a fork mount. So many mistakes I made buying equipment and learned the hard way but it was part of my learning curve.
11. Can you share one of your best ever imaging results?
This image of the region around the Lagoon and Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius is one of my favorites.
12. What’s your opinion about remote imaging with robotic telescopes? Is that the way of the future?
Yes most definitely, this is becoming very popular for people who live in very light polluted areas and for serious imagers who wish to rent high-end equipment rather than buying their own. There are also many big-name imagers who use remote imaging in addition to having their own equipment. There is now a big selection of remote sites available all over the world where equipment can be hired for a modest cost. Personally, I prefer to capture my own images here at home because doing it myself is half the fun.
13. What other interests do you have besides stargazing?
I don’t have much time for my other hobbies these days but I do enjoy photography, PC building & repairs, cooking and travelling.