Astrophotographer Presents At Martz Observatory

FREWSBURG – Nearly 50 astronomy enthusiasts and stargazers glimpsed the furthest reaches of the known universe from the Frewsburg countryside.

On Saturday, the Martz Observatory hosted a 7:30 p.m. lecture with noted astrophotographer Ted Wolfe, who shared several photos he has taken from his own observatory in Naples, Fla.

Wolfe’s presentation, entitled “Looking Up at our Fascinating Universe,” featured several of his photos of deep space objects. He began the presentation with a discussion of his private astrograph, a telescope designed for the purpose of astrophotography, which he said was purchased in 2002 for approximately $10,000.

“Telescopes are expensive,” he said jokingly.

The presentation continued with a slideshow of various images of interstellar objects. The images presented by Wolfe depicted: the veil nebula; the Andromeda galaxy; the owl nebula; the Pleiades open star cluster; the Messier galaxy; the cocoon nebula; a globular star cluster known as the “Intergalactic Wanderer”; the “firecracker” galaxy; the “flying saucer” galaxy; the rosette nebula; the M1 supernova, which was visible to medieval Europeans for 21 days during the year 1054; and the witch head nebula.

According to Gary Nelson, president of the Martz Observatory, a local connection originally brought Wolfe and the observatory together.

“We’ve known Dr. Ron Kohl, who’s been a member of the observatory since way back, and Kohl knew Ted Wolfe,” said Nelson. “And over a period of time, Kohl brought Wolfe in, and since he has an interest in astronomy, he (consistently) shows up. He’s been up to the observatory more than once, but every year he tries to give a lecture and a little insight into his pictures.”

Nelson said public events held at the observatory generally attract crowds with a good turnout.

“We always say it’s the best-kept secret in Chautauqua County,” Nelson said. “But it’s not uncommon to have a good amount of people. I was (involved) when they first started having people up here. In fact, I was one of the people who suggested having the public here. The first public night, I remember very well, we had 200-300 people.”

Wolfe, who previously lived with his family in Lakewood and is a summer resident at Chautauqua Institution, has been involved in astronomy for more than 40 years – the last dozen of which were spent in astrophotography. His images of colliding galaxies, nebulae, comets, dying stars and supernovae have appeared in major national publications in the field of astronomy.

More recently, his work has appeared on display in large exhibits at museum and science centers across the country, including the Miami Museum of Science, the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. Also, a collection of more than 30 of his pictures are now on permanent display at the Center for Space Studies at the University of Florida.

Nelson said having Wolfe personally present his images at the observatory was significant.

“These pictures have been shown all over the place, but he’s here,” said Nelson. “They may have the pictures, but we have (Wolfe).”

Wolfe returns to Chautauqua Institution annually, and makes frequent visits to the Martz Observatory. He is also the writer of a monthly column for the Naples News, called “Looking Up.” For more information on Wolfe, and to see a full gallery of his work, visit www.tedwolfe.com.

For more information on the Martz Observatory, visit www.martzobservatory.org.