At TelescopesPlus.com, our team doesn't just talk astronomy--we live it. In this series, we take you behind the scenes to get to know our Telescope Experts. To kick things off, we're introducing you to David Powers who works in Optical Products Sales and Service at our headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. David has been observing the night sky since childhood. When he's not at the office, he's developing his astrophotography skills.
The next time you're shopping for astronomy gear, give us a call at the number below and let David or one of our other experts help you choose the perfect telescope or accessories.
How long have you been involved in amateur astronomy?
I’ve always had an interest in astronomy and the natural sciences. As a kid, I could recognize several constellations and locate Polaris and the Little Dipper. I had the astronomy merit badge as a Boy Scout. My interest waned a little in my early adulthood, but when I started leading a little more stable life, it picked up again. I eagerly sought out viewing the rather infrequent comets that appeared in the eighties. Now I regularly take opportunities for stargazing and viewing.
What do you like most about the hobby of astronomy?
I enjoy trying to learn something new every day. Working at TelescopesPlus.com, it’s a rare day that doesn’t occur.
What was your first telescope? What would you recommend to someone shopping for their first telescope?
My first telescope was a simple refractor with a 60 or 70 millimeter objective lens. I was fortunate to have parents who encouraged my interest in the natural sciences. I also had a microscope.
Which telescope do you have and use today? What do you like about it?
I currently have a Zhumell Z10 Dobsonian. Its 10-inch aperture captures fuzzy objects nicely! I also frequently point my Vortex Razor 85mm spotter skyward. I like how quick and simple it is to use.
What is your favorite place to stargaze and why?
A best pal lives on an acreage 35 miles from me, and there isn’t too much light pollution, there. But my favorite viewing spot is in north-central Nebraska, the site of the Nebraska Star Party. It’s very remote, and light pollution there is essentially nil. But it’s five or six hours away, darn it!
What is your must-have accessory?
Good mosquito repellent. On calm nights, a ThermaCell mosquito repeller device is a sanity preserver.
What is your advice to someone who wants to get started with astroimaging?
I have plenty to learn about astroimaging, but would encourage anyone with an alt-azimuth telescope and a DSLR camera to go ahead and try your hand at astrophotography. Yes, you’ll have better results with an equatorial mount, but some quality images are still entirely possible with any GoTo telescope.
Tell us about your favorite celestial event that you observed.
There was that memorable night viewing Jupiter. We were at the Nebraska Star Party, and it was one of those unpredictable near-perfect nights, where everything came together. The overhead skies were calm, and viewing conditions simply excellent. Jupiter was prominent, and its bands were clear and distinct. Those views and that evening stand out in my memory. I’m hoping for another similar night at this year’s event.
Where will you be for the upcoming 2017 total solar eclipse?
I’ve been invited to view the total solar eclipse with my brother and sister-in-law in North Platte, NE. Honestly, I could see the totality from much nearer my home in Omaha, as the path bisects my home state nearly in half, diagonally. But I’ll be pleased to pack up and visit family for the event. Hopefully I won’t bore them to tears with a running commentary!
Tell us about your favorite experience helping a TelescopesPlus.com customer.
A few years ago, I took a call from a female US Army soldier stationed in Iraq. She ordered a Celestron NexStar 8SE, and after it was delivered to her, we spoke several more times. She emailed some astronomy images and also photos of their daily life in the desert. She and her compatriots placed another order for a number of accessories. By that time, my work supervisor and upper management had become aware of my customer and her location. I was pleased to inform her that payment for their order had been picked up by TelescopesPlus.com.