Melbourne 1/22/2011 9:53:58 AM
News / Nature

“Will do Eye Surgery for Telescope Time”

Surgeon Dr Carl Tubbs has Stars in his eyes.

Astrophotography provides a myriad of pleasures and tribulations, from the management of the peculiar and unpredictable nuances of mount mechanics, to the planning and executing therein of a night’s observation, and then finally enjoying the plethora of arts involved in making a representation of the sky that the human eye can finally appreciate in its own terms. As an Ophthalmologist, I find challenges in each of these, and remain awed by what a simple digital camera can show as compared to my personal ophthalmic “cameras” with their little exit pupils and scotopic retinas. Wouldn’t it be great if the eye could integrate light?

Astronomy has only become more of a personal passion over the past year or two, as I was forced to retire from my previous love- Triathlon, but the night sky has always remained a quieting partner, even as our  local semi-rural community has caused it to fade slowly from its increasing light domes.

Learning the sky’s anatomy has been a slow endeavor, but now, teaching friends and students what one can see with averted gaze and even simple binoculars remains a treat; it is surprising how little most people know about the sky, yet how interested they can become when they “see”.

My Global-Rent-A-Scope subscription (GRAS) was actually a gift from my mostly understanding spouse, who I believe became somewhat sleep deprived from my travels in and out of the sliding door to the back deck in cold weather. I’m often torn between using my system at home and running a session on GRAS, but the latter systems are for the most part better behaved than my own, so I now have the pleasure of imaging with GRAS while fiddling with the home setup, obtaining different data and results.

As a beginner of two years, there is still much to learn, and I would encourage anyone interested in imaging to try GRAS as a relatively easy way to enter the imaging arena.  GRAS staff are very supportive.
So far, “pretty pictures” have been keeping me busy, but after visiting with Dr. Wiley, I’m learning about variables, and hope to try my hand at adding more to real science in the future.  We’re limited where we live with weather and clouds; the opportunity to catch bits of sky using equipment in north and south latitudes at dark sites really makes a difference.

Is there a better example of art, science and religion than one can find intertwined within astronomy?  We are fortunate indeed to live in a time when our equipment allows us to see increasingly farther away to learn not only more of our origins, but about ourselves and our limitations as well.

Here’s to looking and driving back in time, while maintaining a healthy curiosity.

Dr Carl Tubbs is a GRAS Driver and Eye Surgeon in the USA.