50 Years of Stargazing and Teaching with Gary Becker
MCall Video:Gary A. Becker retires from ASD Planetarium-2010
|Gary A. Becker, (left) StarWatch writer, loves the dark night sky as much as the bright city lights. Articles are written for mainly suburban audiences who also enjoy viewing the heavens. (right) "Not another picture, Gary," says Brandon Velivis, a former astronomy student volunteering at Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. Photography by Lois Wolter, 2003...|
|Gary A. Becker, hiking on Mt. Bierstadt (14,065 feet) along the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies during the summer of 2012... (Insert) Bringing up the rear during one of the scarier parts of the hike, but NOT the scariest... Adam R. Jones photography...|
Gary A. Becker has had a lifelong passion for astronomy, photography, and sky watching. As director for 38 years of the award-winning Allentown (PA) School District Planetarium, and currently, Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA, Gary has taught astronomy from the preschool to the graduate level under the electronic as well as the natural sky.
An ardent traveler, Gary has hosted tours to observe and photograph comets and eclipses and has taken urban students to the Southwest to view the heavens from some of the darkest locales in the United States. He and his pupils volunteered as Night Sky Interpreters at Chaco Culture National Historical Park, NM and Bryce Canyon National Park, UT between 1999 and 2006. In 2012, he joined the Astronomy Team of the Mars Society where he helps to maintain and enhance the Elon Musk (Solar) Observatory and the MDRS Robotic Observatory at the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah, the latter which supports the astronomy program at Moravian University.
Gary A. Becker’s half-century of amateur and professional interests in astronomy have provided him with a unique perspective for writing and teaching. He has authored the book that his Moravian astronomy students use, founded (1996) and continues to maintain as an educational outreach the very visual website astronomy.org, and has for a quarter century written a homespun, informative weekly column called StarWatch which is distributed to the Moravian community and appears in 25 newspapers nationwide.
Gary resides in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Lehigh Valley with his wife, Susan, a retired English teacher who also enjoys writing, and their three spunky Dutch rabbits, “cerebral” Sagan, “T-Rex” Stella, and "princely little" Fynn.
It is safe to say that my original motivation to take pictures stemmed from my father who was an ardent Leica enthusiast. During my youth, photography provided me with a natural avenue to record the places and objects that I saw, as well as the night sky under which I observed. When I began to teach astronomy, I soon realized that my students were more motivated when I presented information and images gleaned from my own personal experiences. This motivational factor, which has only been enhanced by the digital revolution, has been a wonderful catalyst for me to continue my photography and to hone my images to the concepts about which I am teaching. Astronomy is truly a “beautiful science,” and what better way to express that, then through the photographic medium.
|Gary A. Becker, happy at the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah... 2013 image by Peter K. Detterline...|