ELKHART, Ind. — Looking up at the night sky, it’s hard not to wonder what is up there beyond what the eye can see. Most will never know.

But for local amateur astronomer Bill Schlosser, wondering wasn’t good enough_he had to see for himself.

Tucked away in Schlosser’s backyard near Elkhart sits a large, dome-shaped housing that draws the eye when one walks into the flat, tree-free yard. But it is what sits inside the pre-made dome that matters: a telescope.

And not just any telescope. Schlosser’s equipment, which allows him to take high resolution images of planets, stars, galaxies and other celestial phenomena, is what one might call state-of-the-art for the world of hobbyist stargazing. At a price point north of $10,000, it is the technology that lets Schlosser star into the heavens and bring them down to earth. Or, more aptly, to the screen of his laptop.

“Once you get into astrophotography it gets a little expensive, unfortunately,” he said, pointing to the various pieces of kit that make his passion a reality. “Just the mount, just this red part here, is $9,000.”

The large tube holding the mirrors atop the automated mount, which allows Schlosser to control the telescope by remote or let the computer take over and do the heavy lifting all on its own, cost him $1,000, a price he says is relatively inexpensive in his world.

Irrespective of price, it all comes together when the man behind the lens gets the perfect shot of Jupiter’s swirling storms, sunrise on Europa or the colorful twist of a spiral galaxy.

All of which are things Schlosser has dreamed of since he was only a child.

“Ever since I was a little, little kid when we lived in Toledo, my dad used to take me out to Lake Erie at night,” he said. “He’d just grab me and say ‘let’s go to the lake,’ and we’d go to the lake and sit there and look out over the lake at how bright the sky was over the lake away from the city.”

Once he was finally able to afford his own equipment after leaving the navy in the 1980s, Schlosser made astronomy large part of his life.

So large, in fact, that he said his love of literally shooting for the stars is what convinced him to buy his home in Elkhart: The backyard had everything he wanted and needed to get the best shots he could.

“This is exactly why I bought this house,” he said, patting the side of his large, metal-flake telescope, sitting dormant and waiting for the next clear night sky. “No trees, wide open — it was perfect. The house really didn’t matter to me too much. I bought it for the open space.”

But the end all, be all of astrophotography in his mind is far away from Elkhart, Indiana.

10,000 miles far.

The Australian Outback is as much heaven on earth as anything in the skies, Schlosser said. Thanks to a stable atmosphere, largely unobstructed views and dark nights, the viewing way out in the dusty wilds of north Australia are rivaled by little else.

But, from the comfort of his home, Elkhart is still an optimum place for Schlosser to do his work, providing images for the public to marvel at by way of his Flickr.com account, which operates under his own name.

Schlosser has had some fame for his work, however, having photos published in magazines in Australia and the United Kingdom.

But fame isn’t what he is in the game for. Rather, Schlosser simply enjoys eyeing the sky and giving the people a chance to see what lives beyond their own eyes.

“I don’t do anything professionally; I don’t do any professional astronomy at all,” he said. “It’s basically that I like taking the pictures and posting them out there for other people to see.”

If they say a photograph is worth a thousand words, Bill Schlosser’s astrophotography is worth a thousand worlds.


Source: The Elkhart Truth, http://bit.ly/2raz8z6


Information from: The Elkhart Truth, http://www.elkharttruth.com

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by The Elkhart Truth.

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DAVID M. PALMER
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