Eddie Trimarchi 28-December-2009
Eddie Trimarchi 28-December-2009
Though my discipline is computer science, I wound up in the corporate sector as a business software analyst and developer in 1995 and have been doing that ever since. Though I devote
considerable free time to passions, mainly astrophotography and astronomy in general and to a lesser extent, music.
During the day, I help to analyse information technology requirements, designing, developing and maintaining various software systems for Morris International.
Before work, at night and on weekends I run Astroshed, whose primary business activities include software development for astronomical image processing-related tasks, and also taking, processing, printing and publishing high-quality images of our southern celestial objects taken from my backyard "Tin Shed Observatory".
Even though it is a simple backyard shed, AstroShed is producing some of the finest astronomical images taken by amateur astronomers in Australia. We maintain a fully calibrated digital darkroom, with the ability to create photographic prints up to A2 in size using an archival-quality large-format 7-ink pigment printer, currently an Epson 4000. The facilities also exist for cold laminating prints up to A2 with UV-resistant matte or gloss laminate.
Astroshed has two commercial software titles available. Fitsplug, is a Photoshop plugin allowing FITS images to be loaded as if they were a native format. FITS is the standard image format for scientific data and the plugin was first developed in 1999 and was available for free, becoming a commercial product in 2003 with sales continuing today. ImAdjSoft - is a complete, self-contained solution tailored to taking images from a camera control software, automatically modifying them according to a user-defined template and then uploading them to a website, creating animations and their containing web pages. It is primarily used to create weather animations from Allsky cameras used by astronomers to monitor the current sky conditions.
I became interested in astronomy at the age of 10 when I requested (demanded) and surprisingly got, a 2.4" Tasco refractor telescope for Christmas. This telescope saw me through for many years and I loved using it even though it was wobbly and not easily pointed or moved with any accuracy. I managed to see all the planets between the Sun and Uranus, as well as massive and distant globular clusters of stars and incredible emission and planetary nebula as well as tracking sunspots marching across the face of the sun, by using a (what is now considered too dangerous) screw-in eyepiece sun filter. This was all more than enough to cement astronomy into my psyche for ever. I am now what you would consider a bonafide fanatic, and cannot be outside without constantly looking to the sky. An activity that requires further neck evolution...
Some amusing anecdotes
In 1972 or thereabouts, my primary school organised what would be my very first school excursion. And as a 10 year old, my very first trip away without my parents.
It was a trip to Canberra, our nations capital and we were being billeted out to families there. I realised later (much,much later) that the form we had to fill out, that contained sections like "Interests", were not just wasting paper. I naturally answered, "Astronomy" in this section without thinking in the slightest that it would amount to anything. But about 20 years later it all made sense. The family I was with actually knew Buzz Aldrin, and he was visiting while I was going to be there! The day after arriving, Buzz showed up. Along with a front lawn full of news crews, cameras, drinks and food. And there, the 10 year old me met Buzz on the front lawn of a strange house in a strange city with my family hundreds of miles away. Luckily kilometres weren't *in* then or it would have been even further... It was very strange at the time and I remember being dumbfounded by the situation. Gobsmacked, you could say. Buzz gave me his autograph on a slip of paper that had, in his handwritting simply, Edwin E. Aldrin. And beneath this, written slightly smaller, Apollo 11. I felt like I had in my posession, a precious extra-terrestrial parchment hand delivered by the gods themselves and I carried that slip of paper around with me for years. Which was its downfall because I eventually lost it. Even today, almost 40 years later, I keep an eye out for it when rummaging through old paperwork, in the hope it will turn up again. I considered getting a new one from Buzz. Surely he will remember me after coming all the way to Canberra to see me when I was 10 !
In 1973, when I was 11, I mailed a letter to the British Astronomical Society office in Sydney asking what a small child had to do to be an astronomer and I still have the reply. It basically stated that one had to acheive a University degree, majoring in Mathematics and Physics, and graduating in the top 5% ! And even then, jobs were scarce.
Unfortunately at that time, I would have had trouble even spelling "Physics", so this letter did not encourage me much. It was very different to the, "Your hired" letter I was expecting. So I decided to become an Astronaut instead and drive a space lorry between the stars. Surely anyone can do that!
But and unfortunately, life tends to take us onto different paths than those we planned at 11. The chocolate factory job didn't eventuate. But my inate desire to see first-hand, what is out there, has remained strong. Over the years I have managed the means to procure some real astronomical equipment and take some beautiful photos of our dim and distant neighborhood. I have a web page devoted almost entirely to these images and the observatory that takes them, the Tin Shed Observatory .
It's more than a telescope in a backyard shed. But a bonafide astronomical observatory recently registered with the International Astronomical Union, Minor Planet Centre at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. So the telescope is recognised as being able to collect information about things in space with the accuracy required to be accepted as verifiable scientific data into the science community via conventional methods. In the same way that every professional telescope on earth and in space does. It is a bonafide scientific instrument, and is required to be in order to produce accurate positional and brightness information of objects. Taking photos as I do, I'm not so concered with their positions, though they need to be accurate to find them. Photographs are made up from a combination of the objects brightnesses at various wavelengths of light, and the system needs to record these accurately, whether taking pictures to look at or data to analyse.
I had a brief stint with emulsion photography in the 80s which took an interesting turn when I discovered that my Voightlander could have the film advance disengaged when priming the camera for another shot. With this technique I was able to capture sunset on a world orbiting some far-off multiple star system. An example is below as well as a few more pictures that I still like to look at occasionally.
When I was nine, my older brother Michael, then 12, decided that he wanted to play the drums and asked my parents for a drum kit. Being something of a hanger-on at the time, I decided I wanted to play the drums as well, so I said 'Me too'. My brother noted that I couldn't learn the drums too, so I said ok, the guitar then. This was probably a blessing for my parents not having two kids banging drums all day. Learning the guitar and about music in general was great and it is still a big part of my daily life. For the past ten years, I would consider myself a bass player, but I like nothing more than sitting down and strumming a nylon stringed classical guitar.
A while back I was in a local original band Camel Toe! Made up entirely of I.T. guys. But we did rock and for a while and it was fun. You can check us out at MP3.COM Warning! It's not classical.
My personal favorite is Muthafunk....
If you got down to here, then thanks for reading!