Mel Bartels and BBAstroDesigns

BBAstroDesigns, Inc

Amateur telescope making

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Contact Mel Bartels

About Mel Bartels...

For my part I know nothing with any certainty,
but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
Vincent van Gogh

I am IT Manager at OMRI - Organic Materials Review Institute and have worked as a software manager, architect and lead developer, specializing in leading software teams and creating production optimization applications.

I also developed an open sourced telescope control system that became popular worldwide. My github is available here...I speak at astronomical conferences, my telescope walkabouts are a popular highlight at the Oregon Star Party.

The I.A.U. named asteroid 17823 Bartels in recognition for my contributions to amateur astronomy. Go here for more on the asteroid...

I enjoy helping with my wife’s treatment free beekeeping.

Previously I played trumpet professionally with the symphony and jazz bands and hold a pilot’s license.

In elementary school, for an assignment titled "If You Could Make Two Wishes and Have Them Come True, What Would They Be?", I wrote "My first wish would be to have a flying saucer that had telescope in it. My second wish would be to be a great music player." Well, I am an amateur astronomer, I played trumpet professionally for many years, and have a pilot's license. I had a lot of fun in HS - music, chess, science. Our chess team was undefeated in northwest tournament play for several years and won the state championship 4 yrs running. One year I managed to place tied for 6th-11th in the national HS championships in NY. I was also fortunate to win the state solo contest for trumpet two years in a row.

Speaking engagements...

ALCON Aug '07, Portland, Oregon

Altaz Initiative, Meter-Class Astronomy Conference, Jan '12, Waimea, Hawaii

Altaz Initiative, PDX Workshops, July '06, Aug '11, July '12, July '14, July '15, July '16, Portland Oregon

Atlanta Astronomy Expo, May '01, Atlanta, Georgia

AstroImage 97, Orange County, California

Battle Point Astronomical Society May '99, Nov '04, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Boise Astronomical Society, June '00, April '03, Boise, Idaho

Dallas Astronomical Society, June '98, Dallas, Texas

Delmarva Mirror Making Seminar, Mar '17, Georgetown, Delaware

Golden State Star Party, July '12, Adin, California

Idaho Star Party, Sept '04, Boise, Idaho

Image The Sky, Nov '99, June '04, July '05, Salem/Portland, Oregon

International Mars Society meeting star party presentation, Aug '03, Eugene, Oregon

International Optics Workshop, Bellingham, Washington, speaker most years

Laurel Highlands Star Cruise, June '04, Morgantown, West Virginia

Mt Bachelor Star Party, Sept '02, Aug '03, Aug '08, Bend, Oregon

NEAF (Northeast Astro Forum), Apr '05, New York, New York

NightSky 45, July '15, Salem, OR

Oregon Star Party, 'scope walkabout' held every year, Prineville, Oregon

Okie-Tex Star Party, Oct '99, Black Mesa, Oklahoma

Rose City Astronomer's April '99, Sept '06, Portland, Oregon

Roseburg Astronomical Society, Nov '01, May '02, June '03, Aug '04, Roseburg, Oregon

RASC, June '07, Vancouver, British Columbia

RETA (REunion de Telescopios de Aficionado), August '10, Aras de los Olmos, Spain

Spokane Astronomical Society, April '07, Nov '15, Spokane, Washington

Starfest Aug '07, Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Table Mountain Star Party, Aug '05, Ellensburg, Washington

Telescope Optics Workshop, Mar '99, April '00, April '01, Bellingham, Washington

The Wilderness Center Astronomy Club, Nov '99, Wilmot, Ohio

Winter Star Party, Feb '02, West Summerland Key, Florida

Books, articles, photos...

Contributing author to Lightweight Alt-Az Research Telescope Developments, publisher Collins Press

Contributing author, Amateur Telescope Making, publisher Springer

Contributing author, Best of Amateur Telescope Making Journal I and II, publisher Willman-Bell

Contributing author, Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics, publisher Nature Publishing Group, Macmillan Publishers

Circuit Cellar article appearing in May, '00

Sky and Telescope articles appearing in April '79, Nov '99, April '00, Aug '04, Jan '12, Sept '14, April '17

Amateur Astronomy magazine issues #57, 69, 82, 86

Featured in The Oregonian, Sept 3, '97, C8

Featured in Air and Space, Dec/Jan, '98 pg 38

Cover story for Amateur Telescope Making Journal, #12 '98

Mentioned in Astronomia (Italy), pg 49, April, '97

Photo in Windows Tech Journal, Dec '92, pg 58

AstroRapport (Norway) article, nr.4, '95

Observatory Techniques #12, '94

Northwest Astrophotography Show, '96, 2nd place

Poetry, inspiration...

A meteor's streak,
 a sweet remembrance flashes in my heart,
 my mind's eye.
My soul's moment's tug,
 at the corners of my lips,
 my eye's brief glitter.
The meteor swiftly fires,
 my illumination dwindles softly;
 illimitable passion to the hushed stars.
Mel Bartels, 1995

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
 Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
 Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
 You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
 High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
 I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
 My eager craft through footless halls of air.
 Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
 I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
 Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
 And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
 The high un-trespassed sanctity of space,
 Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee, 1940, often quoted after the 1986 Challenger accident

"If we die, we want people to accept it. We hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life." Gus Grissom

Carl Sagan's Reflections on a Mote of Dust

Ann Druyan on science and wonder

Carl Sagan on "Science Is a Way of Thinking"


Piloting over the Cascades of central Oregon
Piloting over Three Sisters
Flying over the rim of Mt St Helens


An ice spike in a bird bath following a cold snap December 2014
Observing at the Oregon Star Party, 2011 (image courtesy Craig Stott)
Sunset October 2014
Sun pillar
December 2013 morning sunrise from the back deck
Moon at sunset, July 2014
Venus and Moon at sunset, Sept 2013
Annular eclipse, May 20, 2012
Venus transit, June 5, 2012
end of images