Laura Nasise, R.N.
Co-Founder of Star Chaserz, Inc.
I have had the great privilege of being born and raised in Northern California. My home town for twenty years sits in one of the darkest areas not only of California, but 30 miles east is the Massacre Rim Wilderness which is one of the darkest skies in the contiguous U.S. and it is designated as a Dark Sky Sanctuary.
My husband and I have created this amazing non-profit company, Star Chaserz, which combined his love of Astronomy and my love of the dark sky. We are able to answer the questions of my youth as well as many others. I feel honored to be a part of something that gives back not only to our youth and community, but to all those who have a love of what lies above us in our vast universe and beyond.
Biography of Presenter Mike Ryan
Mike Ryan is the current president and 58-year member, of the San Mateo County Astronomical Society (SMCAS). He's a career automotive, aerospace and systems engineer, but has served on astronomy staffs at the Academy of Science's Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco, at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, and at the College of San Mateo back in the 1960's.
Under the auspices of the Samaritan House, and local chapter of the Rotary Club Mike has also devoted years to food distribution in the low-income community in the mid-Peninsula region of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Biography of Brent Simons
Brent, a retired electronics engineer, spent many years of his career designing satellite systems. He has been interested in astronomy since acquiring his first telescope at age 12. “The bad news is that growing up and working in the Bay Area limited the objects that could be viewed due to the large amount of light pollution.” Astrophotography was put on the back burner for the next 40 years.
Brent built an observatory out back and bought a Meade 10” Schmit-Newtonian telescope and a digital imaging camera; “it was a very steep learning curve as telescope tracking, guiding, focus, camera and computer software all had to work at the same time. Also it had to be clear, not too windy and no Moon. It took me about a year before I had everything calibrated just right and took my first decent astrophoto.” You can see a collection of Brent’s astrophotos at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dsopics/sets
“I enjoy working with Norm and have responsibility for the computer interface to the various imaging cameras, mount controllers and other active components. Norm’s house and mine are 6 miles apart and luckily have line of sight between our homes. I set up a private microwave link to the observatory from my house which allows me to remotely view and operate the observatory PC and control all telescope functions: camera, focuser, object acquisition etc. from my location.”
Norman C. Nasise, M.D.
Biography of Co-Founder Norman C. Nasise, M.D.
Me with my 20” Dobsonian in my newly constructed observatory.
I always had an interest in science. I was child of the space race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. I remember looking up and in the evening sky and seeing Sputnik and Muttnik fly overhead. I remember seeing the news on TV that Yuri Gagarin was the 1st human being launched in space. I stayed home from school and watched every Mercury launch from Alan Shepard to Gordon Cooper. When I was in 6th grade we took a field trip to the Peabody Museum, and the Hayden Planetarium.
By the age of fourteen, I constructed my own telescope. It was not very sophisticated by today’s standards, but it was mine and I could not have been prouder! Sky and Telescope graced my shelves. I waited with anticipation of what the next issue had to offer. As soon as the magazine was in my mailbox, I had it in my hand, running to my room, thumbing through the pages with each step.
Upon graduating high school I attended junior college. There I joined the local Astronomical Society. I then attended the University of California where I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree. From there I attended medical school. After finishing my residency I moved to a small town in Northern California, which at that time had a “very dark” sky, to build an observatory and to practice medicine. The observatory housed my Dobsonian mounted 20 inch Newtonian f/5 telescope along with computerized equipment to view the dark heavens above. That lasted for about ten years. Several large companies, such as a car dealership, Wal-Mart Distribution Center and a Home Depot, had moved into the area and destroyed the night sky.
Tired of my complaining, my wife came up with a unique idea. I had planned on purchasing land in the Mt. Shasta area of California to build my new observatory. Laura expressed concern with this proposal due to my busy work schedule and difficulty finding the time to commute to the new observatory. I challenged her to come up with a better idea, and she did just that. She had seen in a magazine, an advertisement for a GMC EUV Envoy with a retractable roof. She suggested that I could purchase this type of a vehicle and place a telescope within the cargo bay. With this unique vehicle I could use my scope at any location that I desired. It was at that moment the idea of our mobile observatory was born.
For the next six months, I worked in my garage coming up with a lift that would be able to elevate my telescope out of my new Envoy. I purchased a 14-inch Meade Telescope and had a computer designed specifically for my mobile observatory. A year later, my wife and I traveled to Big Bear Lake, California, for the 2006 RMTC Astronomy Expo. We were so pleased with the excitement and praises we received from the attendees.