Above is a panoramic image of the DeerRidge site looking west and northwest with Loyd's observatory seen at right. Copyright © 2008 by Loyd Overcash.

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Loyd Overcash

The first "scientific based" images of a solar system object arrived with the invention of the telescope in the early 1600s. These were illustrations of the moon rendered via the medium of pen and paper by Thomas Harriot and Galileo Galilei; not until the advent of Louis Daguerre's camera of 1839 would that change. — K. Pinkela, Art & Artists of the Universe The Artistic Science of Renderings and Images


Loyd's New MoonAs astronomy and photography merged, they revolutionized the pursuit of serious scientific research, eventually changing the hobby of amateur astronomy and fostering a growth of citizen supported science that was to become more than just a casual pastime. It began when the first astrophoto came into being, a photograph of the lunar surface taken in 1840 by John William Draper, who later presented his image to the Lyceum of Natural History in the City of New York, today known as the New York Academy of Sciences. In 1880, his son, Henry Draper, became the first person to photograph the Orion Nebula, which was essentially the first deep sky astrophoto. The science of photographing space then saw some of its greatest early work through the pioneering photographs of American astronomer E.E. Barnard, made at the Lick Observatory in the years 1889—1895.

In our modern era, it has become one of the fastest growing areas of science and art, a popular pursuit amongst photographers, amateur astronomers, students, engineers, artists, and hobbyists of all ages and backgrounds. It is a fusion of technologies we call astrophotography, and its legacy is felt far and wide, from the halls of scientific disciplines to serious astronomical research; the 2004 discovery of McNeil's Nebula by its namesake Jay McNeil (using his CCD camera and 3-inch refractor) being just one of many cases in point. Today, commercial astrophotography equipment is easy to find, and modern digital cameras are increasing in popularity due to lower cost and ease of use. Yet, it is not a pursuit to be taken too lightly as skill and technique are extremely important, and the hobby can become a life-time passion or short-term frustration. Seen above left is Loyd's beautiful image of a fingernail moon, seen above the foreground ridge line and trees of his DeerRidge observatory, where the Sky is Deeper and the Stars are Brighter.  [10]
The Observatory at DeerRidge

Shown below is Loyd's pride and joy and his most recent picture of the 14½-inch RCOS Ritchey-Chretien with Ion Milled optics he houses in the larger of his two observatories. This is a much more advanced setup that requires plenty of experience in the hobby and not one that the beginner should take lightly; it is a good example of what we mean when we speak of the need for skill and technique, an extremely important component of this type of equipment and the resulting astrophotography work that can be achieved with it.

Loyd's Big Scope

Though interest in the hobby of amateur astronomy was very much present in the early 1900s, its developement only really started in 1947. As noted by Thomas R. Williams in his thesis while at Rice University: However, it was not until 1947, when the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) formed, that another large segment of amateur astronomers found a home for their interests. A second mode of national organization succeeded at mid- century and grew to include most avocational astronomers. Between then and now, the hobby has exploded beyond imagination, the growth attributable to the technological achievements of the 20th century in electronics and computers and their resulting affordability as well as to the plethora of websites that now exist on the subject. Today it has developed a multitude of divisions and hobbies that include observing groups, public participation in programs like SETI and Near-Earth Object surveys, amateur discoveries, astrophotography, sketching and astroart, website forums and dicussion groups, personal picture of the day and hobby sites, educational topics, instrument reviews and many others—all of which are given life and support through the efforts and work of amateur astronomers worldwide, many who are working alone.   [11]

Loyd's Small Scope

Shown above is the open 7-foot Astrohaven clam shell that houses Loyd's 5-inch Takahashi Refractor with its mounted SBIG ST-10XME. We find them smaller and fainter, in constantly increasing numbers, and we know that we are reaching into space, farther and farther, until, with the faintest nebulae that can be detected with the greatest telescopes, we arrive at the frontier of the known universe. — Edwin Powell Hubble

The Domes

Above is another look at Loyd's home observatory and domes. For my confirmation, I didn't get a watch and my first pair of long pants, like most Lutheran boys. I got a telescope. My mother thought it would make the best gift. — Werner von Braun

Final Image — Jackpot!

There are many aspects, many rewards awaiting those wishing to pursue the hobby of amateur astronomy and astrophotography, just browse the internet and you'll find ample proof of this. For myself, I am no longer limited to just a few topics or even objects, my interests after all these years is now as expansive as the universe and as such, I do not think I'll be running out of things to explore anytime soon. For Loyd Overcash, imaging the beauty of our universe barely touches upon his enjoyment of the hobby. Sharing his passion with others has brought out his very best by allowing him to share it with everyone, everywhere so that they may view, admire and experience what he's learned: that the nature of our universe is a boundless classroom that teaches us lessons about ourselves and the greater responsibilies of our presence within the cosmos and our existence on this planet called Earth. The additional reward for Loyd is simple:

The Jackpot

But you'll just have to find it on your own; he's not giving out the coordinates!


Without his help and efforts, this piece could not have been written — Thank You Loyd!
To view all of Loyd's images or to view those presented here at a higher resolution then drop by his skyshooter website.


  1. Messier 63, Observations and Descriptions THE MESSIER CATALOG from SEDS. SEDS is maintained by Hartmut Frommert and Christine Kronberg and information is from one of the SEDS mirrored sites. Last Modification: March 30, 2005, accessed September 25, 2009
  2. Cuthbertson, Brian Sidereal Times, article January, 2002 and quoting William Herschel. Sidereal Times is the official monthly publication of the Austin Astronomical Society. Also see: THE LEVIATHAN OF PARSONSTOWN: AMBITIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS by Michael Hoskin, Churchill College, Cambridge, Review article of the JHA, xxxiii (2002)
  3. William Herschel, Biography—King's Patronage, article from Answers.com accessed October 2, 2009. Also see: Crawford, Deborah, The king's astronomer, William Herschel, New York, J. Messner 1968.
  4. The Alphabet Soup of Saturn's Rings Space Topics: Saturn, The Planetary Society Copyright © 1993 — 2009 The Planetary Society. All rights reserved. October 5, 2009.
  5. M27 - Dumbbell Nebula © 2009 Wolfgang Howurek, from astro.nightsky.at website, Walter Koprolin, Vienna, Austria, Europe and Wolfgang Howurek, Mistelbach, Austria, Europe.
  6. PROJECT: Constellation Ursa Major Astronomical Observatory and Planetarium, Varna, Bulgaria from the ESO's Catch a Star 2002. Team Leader: Veselka Radeva, Astronomical Observatory, Varna, Bulgaria, The students are from the Astronomical courses in the Astronomical Observatory and Planetarium "N.Kopernicus" -Varna
  7. Gottfried Kirch from AbsoluteAstronomy.com © 2009. All Rights Reserved. October 09, 2009.
  8. Phillips, Dr. Tony Green Comet Approaches Earth Headline News, featured article from NASA, 02.04.2009. Credit: Science@NASA
  9. Storrs, Alex Space Telescope Science Institute, Comets Teacher Page: Science Background From the Formal Education Group of the Space Telescope Science Institute's Office of Public Outreach, Amazing Space website. Last update: January 8, 2004.
  10. Astrophotography: Facts, Discussion Forum, and Encyclopedia Article from AbsoluteAstronomy.com. The source of this article is Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL. © 2009. All Rights Reserved.
  11. See for example: IS AMATEUR ASTRONOMY FOR YOU? © 2005 Floie A. BarrowsAstrophoto: The Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) by Karel Teuwen, August 9th, 2006 — Amateur Finds New Earth-Sized Blot on Jupiter By Robert Mackey, The New York Times News Blog July 21, 2009 — Dealing With Near Earth Objects Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Interim Report By Keith Cowing on August 12, 2009

Further Reading, General and Historical

  • William Herschel's catalog of Deep Sky objects A webpage from the SEDS organization. Hartmut Frommert and Christine Kronberg. This webpage was selected as Houston Astronomical Society Site Of The Week for July 1, 2004. Last Modification: January 22, 2007.
  • Guerrero et al., Structure of the Owl Nebula. I. THE ASTRONOMICAL JOURNAL, 125:3213-3221, 2003 June © 2003. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A. October 09, 2009
  • De Maria, Fredi The Hodierna's Nebulae A Messier's forerunner to the court of the early "Gattopardo" O.R.S.A. Organizzazione Ricerche e Studi di Astronomia (Organization for the Research and Study of Astronomy) Palermo (Europe). October 10, 2009.
  • Comet 17P/Holmes Photo Gallery Spaceweather.com. News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids.
  • McNeil's Nebula from the editors of the Astronomy Picture of the Day website. Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA). Image Credit: Adam Block (KPNO Visitor Program), NOAO, AURA, NSF. NASA Official: Jay Norris. A service of: LHEA at NASA / GSFC & Michigan Tech. U.

© Legal Copyright Notice:
Unless otherwise stated, all images are the sole copyright © property of Loyd Overcash and may not be reproduced or copied in any manner from herein without prior written permission of the owner, Loyd Overcash. The images used on the above page(s) are for the sole purpose of information and display at A Universe in Time website and have been used with the kind permission of Loyd Overcash.