In 1981 I moved to Greenville, Texas and took a job as an engineer with E-Systems. The next 30 years were primarily devoted to working and raising a family.
In 1984 I purchased a Celestron C8 eight inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope in anticipation of Halley's Comet. The picture also shows the variable frequency drive controller/inverter I built to give the telescope slow motion in the Right Ascension axis.
This is a scan from a page of my Sky Atlas 2000 showing the observations I made of Halley's Comet during late December of 1984. Click on the image to see a larger view.
A picture of Halley's Comet I took in April of 1985 right after my son was born. His middle name is Edmund after Edmund Halley.
Soon after Halley's Comet faded into interplanetary space I sold the C8 to help buy optics for a 20" Classical Cassegrain telescope. I ordered the optics 6 months after my son was born and they arrived 2 years later on the same day my daughter was born. Obviously, I was at the hospital busy with another delivery so it took another week to get them delivered. The picture at the left shows the primary mirror in its cell. Note the 4" central hole and the egg crate construction. Although it is full thickness it only weighs 56 lbs. Over the next two years I worked to build a Dobson mounting and configured it as a 20" f4 Newtonian. It is shown at left during the comet Levy-Shoemaker impact on Jupiter in 1994. That is my son, Paul, climbing the ladder for a closer look. I would start observing before sundown, which was a bit of a challenge since I had to point the scope manually.
In 2004 we bought some property just south of Princeton, Texas as a future home/observatory site. In 2007 we began construction of the house and I had the builder put in a 16'x24' slab for the observatory. He went further than that and put in a full foundation including 6 piers under the observatory floor and an additional two piers under the area where the telescope would be.
A picture of the 20" Dobsonian setting on the Observatory foundation with the house under construction in the background. Note the 2x4's with wheels that are attached to the scope to move it around like a wheelbarrow. They come off for observing.
The 20" was my primary observing telescope for 26 years until I built the observatory. In 2011 with all three of my children nearing graduation from college, I began finalizing the design for the observatory. The original plan was to totally rebuild the 20" into a fully functional Cassegrain scope on an equatorial fork mount. In July of 2011 my friend Mike Pierce and his family came for a visit and I discussed my plans with him. The suggested selling the 20" and purchasing a Meade LX-200 16" as the University of Wyoming (where he is a professor of Astronomy) had one. I shrugged it off. However, as the end of 2011 approached and the plans for the 20" began to finalize I realized the cost was going to be about the same for either approach. However, since I was doing the work myself the time it would take to build the 20" could be substantial (remember, I have had it for 26 years). I finally ask myself, "Do you want to use the scope before I die?" The answer, of course, was yes so after getting the OK of my wife, I purchased the Meade in March of 2012 and it arrived in August. See more about the construction of the obsrvatory on the Observatory page link at left..