High-End Astronomy with OPT's Professional Services

Purpose: Dustin and Tony are joined by OPT’s Professional Services for a candid conversation on what’s happening at the company, what astronomy is like at the highest levels, and what the future has in store for the average astronomer.

OPT Professional Services: Chris Hendren and Larry Weatherly have revolutionized the way business is done in high-end astronomy. With an impeccable track record and unparalleled know-how, these are the guys to go to.

This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • The origins of OPT Professional Services
  • What the future holds for students and the amateur community
  • Just how much technology has advanced for the average astronomer
  • What really makes Dustin uncomfortable

Notable Quotes:

“NASAdoes call Chris on a pretty regular basis.” - Dustin Gibson

“The fun part is finding a solution to peoples’ problems.” - Larry Weatherly

“People are often amazed at simply the sight of a telescope” - Dustin Gibson

Main Topics:

2:37 -Getting Started at OPT

Chris and Larry both come from very different backgrounds, but at one point in their lives became intensely interested in the night sky. Anybody in the world can get to where these guys are. All it takes is a spark of inspiration and the determination to explore the cosmos through all things astronomy. It will also help if you’re able to save a life at any moment like Larry.

16:32 -The Professional Astronomy Experience

What might be a surprise is that handling high-grade astronomy clients is not a whole lot different than the average astronomer in your neighborhood. The only real difference is the price tag and some extra, exact details that need to be made custom for their setups. With how astronomy and the equipment for it have progressed over the years, it’s no wonder that the amateur and professional experiences are becoming more and more intertwined.

26:25 -Getting Students Involved in Astronomy

Chris and Larry reveal their plans for a new program targeted at schools to get students involved in the exciting realm of astronomy. The “Future Stars Program” was created with the sole purpose of getting at least one telescope into every school in the United States, and eventually the world. As it was for Dustin, Larry, and so many others, all it takes to ignite a passion for the universe is an initial spark. Simply looking through a telescope for the first time and getting a glimpse of a neighboring planet, a galaxy, or even something as familiar as the moon can be enough to change a life. The plan is to get a low-cost but extremely functional telescope in the hands of every child in the world, hopefully, to alter their lives for the better.

39:15 -The Triad Difference and Creation

OPT’s very own Chris Hendren is the mastermind behind the revolutionary Radian Triad and Triad Ultra filters. Many astronomers when starting out can easily get overwhelmed when it comes to choosing their equipment and managing all that comes with an astrophotography setup. The Triad series filters were created with the idea to simplify the entire process and gear requirements while also allowing anybody to image from anywhere. On top of this, the narrowband wavelengths offered by these filters are on par with the best filters on the market at 4 and 5 nanometers.

46:00 -Off-The-Shelf Professional

Consumer-ready, commercial-grade equipment nowadays has become so refined and advanced that even the most professional and technologically demanding companies are able to use only these for their work--and to great success! The average astronomer now has the capability to contribute massively to the international scientific community. To that end, these amateur astronomers havealready contributed in finding exoplanets from their backyard or gathering data required for intensive research. These opportunities will only become more available in the coming years as technology advances even further and as the next generations become more involved with space science.

54:00 -The Growth of Amateur Astronomy

We’re beginning to see consumer-grade mounts reaching sub-arcsecond tracking capabilities and extreme mechanical proficiency with newer mount systems. What used to be forty and fifty-thousand cameras are now along the lines of five thousand, and the same is happening for high-end mounts. Every piece of astronomy equipment is becoming more refined and incredible while the price is also dropping. We’ve talked about being in the Golden Age of Astronomy before, and OPT’s Pro Services team further confirms this.

Did this change your perspective on what high-end astronomy is really like? Do you hope you be at this level one day? Let us know in the comments below!

Next Episode - Telescopes, Balloons, and Beer, with Dr. Nick Galitzki

Get ready for a wild ride with Dr. Nick Galitzki, a cosmologist stationed in Antarctica who works with some big balloons and is figuring out the structure of our universe. We’ve got Tony and Dustin as usual, but we also have a special guest you all probably know by now… and he brought beer! Listen in on this episode with Dr. Nick!

Previous Episode - PrimaLuceLab Founder Filippo Bradaschia

One of the most eccentric faces in the industry makes his way from across the globe to be here on the Space Junk Podcast! Filippo Bradaschia, a household name for most astronomers, joins Dustin and Tony to talk about how PrimaLuceLab got started, delicious Italian cuisine, and what’s in store for the future.

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