About the observatory

Thalimer Observatory is a small, private observatory located in Parker, Colorado. I take astrophotos, share my enthusiasm by talking about space, show others the beauty of the universe with telescope viewing sessions. I am Todd. I am a space geek!

I’m most active on Facebook. Click the Facebook link above to see photos and discussion.

One of my first astrophotography shots: 1997

I grew up when the Space Shuttle began flight, and the International Space Station hadn’t been built. My life changed forever when a neighbor invited me to look through a telescope and saw Haley’s Comet. It wasn’t until 1997 that I was able to afford my own telescope, a small 90mm Meade computerized scope. The first object I viewed was Saturn, and then the obsession began. I even hooked up a film camera and got some shots of the Moon for my first taste of astrophotography.

In 2005, I upgraded to an 8 inch Meade LX-90 telescope that came with a simple monochrome astrophotography camera. The set up had to be moved outside when I wanted to use it, so I only viewed the heavens during the summer months. My wife and I held star parties in our driveway with trivia and food contests for several years, and I claimed I’d build a domed observatory one day.

In 2012, I got serious about astrophotography. I mounted my DSLR camera on a tripod for static shots, and to the telescope for magnified images. The learning curve was steep, but I shot 16 different sessions that year. A friend helped me build a domed observatory that allowed me to shoot photos any time of the year.

2013 was the year that I learned how much effort was involved with taking a good astrophoto. I got very involved with understanding how everything worked, and there was a lot to know. By late 2014, I was ready to tackle my bucket list item: photograph all 110 Messier Objects, a popular astronomy catalog of star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. Each object was unique in brightness, location, and difficulty. 11 months later, I’d shot them all, a big feat in the amateur astrophotography community.

Best of 2016

To celebrate my accomplishment, I upgraded my main telescope to a Celestron 11 inch HD. This telescope is specifically made for astrophotography, allowing great magnification and converting into a widefield telescope too. A few months later, I upgraded from the DSLR camera, to a proper astronomy camera. The camera allows long exposures by chilling the CCD, and uses a filter wheel to capture special spots in the electromagnetic spectrum. In 2016, I spent even more time understanding tracking and exposure length. I added a Stellarvue 80mm astrograph telescope to the collection for widefield astrophotography. At the end of 2016, I published the best photos I took that year in a collage. My photos finally matched my ambition.