Kiss the Sky

"To divide one's night between a beautiful woman
and a clear night sky, and then spend the day
matching theory and observation,
that is my idea of heaven on earth." 

~ Napoleon Buonaparte    

"I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge;  I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there."  ~ Confucius

What's this mystery, the Universe?  In with a bang, out with a hearse.

This is the personal website for Matt Terry, of Tampa, Florida.  I have some original astronomy observing projects, elementary astronomy education resources, selected astrophotography (professional and amateur), some humor, some opinion, some speculation, plus favorite quotes, music, astronomy, art, shooting, and literary stuff and links; you know, stuff I like that I'll talk publicly about.   I've attempted to keep it to a minimum, just the cream, cause who's got the time...?

Teachers:    Here is a page of information and projects for elementary school astronomy teachers to prepare for my talks to their classes:  Astronomy  projects, including sketching the sun, moon, and stars, like my friend Raul Leon.



aka: Telescope making and mirror shaping.  I've suffered from Silicaparabolopticism for 6 years, since well before I discovered and in collaboration with James Lerch began documenting the syndrome, aka: SilicaParabolOptic Disorder, or SPOD for short.  If you should find yourself similarly afflicted, visit your local astronomy club, or search the web for amateur telescope making support groups (the ATM list is particularly good).  How to tell if you have SPOD.  My clinic: SPAC's Mirror Lab      The Holy Land 

Here's me with the first telescope I ever made:  Matt@OBS '01   scroll down, I'm third.  The scope is a six inch f/4.25 Comet Catcher.  Some sought, one caught, but for naught, some'n else saw it first.  

Hand-made, custom-designed telescopes

I design and build Newtonian telescopes for folks, mostly the basic Dobsonian style, with features crafted specifically for the customer.  Here is a brief slide-show of a ten inch f/6 telescope (click the play button among the row on the lower right to begin slides).

   It has been customized for a man with a bad back and neck, so that no componant is over 40 lbs, the tube splits in two, and it rotates in its cradle to make the most comfortable eye-piece angle for any elevation.  In the link, you can see the parts as they are unassembled, ready for transportation, then the very few steps needed to assemble the rocker-box (14 hex-screws, plus nine woodscrews for the SkyCommander and EP holders), and finally the latching together of the two-step tube assembly.  Also note the tube-boxes store nestled together, to save storage space when the scope is assembled.  Complete package comes with a heavy duty custom-fitted scope cover (water- and UV-proof), and options include the Sky Commander, dew-heaters, a telesocpic finderscope, and a dew-cover for the unit-power finder.  I can also make the primary mirror, or acquire one,  or you can supply your own.


Websites worth the click:

Tomm Lorenzin -- Accomplished amateur astronomer, photographer, father, birder and poet, and all around 21st Century Skitzoid Man!  His ginormous site will thrill you if you have any interest in astronomy, poetry, avians and aviation, photonic capture, literature and many other sensuous arts and lovesome things.  Enjoy Tomm's view of the Universe from:

James Lerch -- His site details his experience building an 8-inch binocular telescope, and his ground-breaking work on mirror testing and aluminizing.   He's SPAC's Mirror Lab's resident mad scientist and all around fine human bean.  His site.

Andy Wallace -- Andy's been a dear friend for decades, and among his many talents he his a fine photographer of nature above and below the waterline.  Enjoy his art at: Diamond W

Along the Watchtower (my blog)         Other good blog-sites:     NROonline

Christopher Hitchens;   Victor Davis Hansen's Private Papers;   Mark Steyn Online

Astronomy Picture of the Day -- With a new beautiful picture of the Universe every day, if you set it as your homepage, you won't regret it.

Astronauts Eye View of the Earth -- Just what it sounds like

NASA TV -- For those unfortunate not to have it with their cable package; and here's their image of the day archive

Hawaiian Astronomical Society -- Here's one of the best online amateur astronomy resources

Best Online Messier Catalog, images from the DSS.      R U by any chance a Globular Cluster freak?  More Info

NGC/IC Project   and here's a bunch of great astronomy links    Spacefaring!

Scoot and Shoot  My first choice for the active Second Amendment enthusiast, is the IDPA.  Or try:  USPSA, for Xtreme plinking

Hear for yourself:

Shakti -- not the goddess, the godlike quartet headed in various incarnations by guitarist John McLaughlin.   Words are inadequate to describe the wonder that is this band.  Just buy it.   Official sites: ShaktiJohn McLaughlin   Here are some albums to look for:  Natural Elements, Handful of Beauty, Shakti, The Believer, and there's a new huge collection spanning all the years that McLaughlin has been performing at the Montreaux Jazz Festival.  cd covers

PMG --Another great original guitar genius from the fourth generation of jazz flowering is Pat Metheny.  Just buy his records, too.  His official site: Pat Metheny homepage   See also: Pat sams_list.   Pat's Dali-esque Pikasso guitar. 

Sean Malone --  Amazing and gifted in so many ways, prepare for some progressive music out of all the boxes:   Sean

Think for Yourself:

Matt's "I see 'em": A Guide by the Perplexed  

Herein are my and others' musings on things philo-polit-epistom-illlogically and controversially eruditional, or that are just interesting somehow.  Lots of articulating herein, but here's a taste:


"I wonder.  I wonder why.  I wonder why I wonder.  I wonder why I wonder why.~  Richard Feynman ~

"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not entirely absurd, indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."
   ~ Bertrand Russell ~

"The nice thing about science is that one gets such wholesale returns of conjecture from such a trifling investment of fact." ~ Mark Twain ~

...& Politics...

"Half the truth is often a great lie."  ~ Ben Franklin

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." ~ Eldridge Cleaver

"Because Freedom can't defend itself."  ~ ACLU slogan

"Any nation which prefers disgrace to danger prepares for a master, and deserves one"         ~ Alexander Hamilton

"Some things are so preposterous that only an intellectual could believe them - no ordinary person could be so stupid."   -George Orwell

...& Economics

Public Choice Theory;   The Tragedy of the Commons;  Soros Solutions;  Citadels of Dead Capital; The Real Problems Facing the Second and Third World; &...

The Wars on Terrorism

On Iraq: [the peace marchers are not taking] "the position of profound morality, but one that stands in profound opposition to march against the war is not to give peace a chance.  It is to give tyranny a chance. It is to give the Iraqi nuke a chance.  It is to give the next terrorist mass murder a chance.  It is to march for the furtherance of evil instead of the vanquishing of evil.  This cannot be the moral position."  ~ Michael Kelly

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature, and has no chance of being free unless made or kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." ~ John Stuart Mill

"Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist.  This is elementary common sense.  If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other.  Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one.  In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me. "  &  " We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "   Yes, George Orwell knew something about fighting evil. Sounds familiar, too...who else said sumpin' like dat?

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because
of those who look on and do nothing.
~ Albert Einstein ~

I define terrorism as "the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint." Christopher Hitchens

"The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."  ~ Confucius ~ 500  BC

Lots of opinion articles here in re: the wars and the myriad beneficial aspects of US superpower status and so on.

In sum:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,"  ~ Edmund Burke

"Shall I tell you what the real evil is?  To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering." ~ Seneca, Letters to Lucilius

"The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself," ~ Robert Ingersoll

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not themselves." ~ Abraham Lincoln

"Peace is not God's gift to his creatures. It is our gift to each other." ~ Elie Wiesel

In summar:

Do for others as you would have them do for you.  Other than that, leave them the fuck alone.


Humor and Miscellany

Invitation to a Party   R U 2 sick to death of polyticks as usual?  Looking for the Sensible Center?  Do U like raccoons? Procyon lotor, y'all!

Behind the Mucus:  An illuminating, if not exactly edifying, tale of sex, drugs, and rockandroll, VH-1 style.

Liberatin' Libers!  Here's an ever-growing list of my favorite books, categorized, with a brief description of most.  Add the OED and the Encyclopedia Britannica to the list...

Desert Island Ten  BBC style: Pick ten records to last you the rest of your life if you were stranded on a deserted Isle, with a wind-up record player and several spare needles. The arbitrary challenge of this sort of limited list is enormous, as picking 50 or 100 would surely be much easier; I actually picked 13.  But we all have albums which matter more to us than others which might be "better", even by our own criteria, for very personal reasons.   Here's mine in no particular 10 favorite about 80 of the rest of my favorite musicians and/or bands that could all be #11 at one mood or another...


See for yourself:

Awesome Astrophotos.  Some Hubble, some less trouble, all make mine mind bubble

You've come a long way, baby

Amateur astronomers are doing amazing things with their gear these days.  Several astrophotographers have kindly given their permission for me decorate my site with their work.  I believe their images are beautiful documents of nature, and in their technique, dedication, and composition place these people among the best of modern artists.  Chris Schur is one of those, and the quality and quantity of his work available on the web is simply amazing.   I have chosen several of his pictures of subjects made famous in recent years by the Hubble and other giant professional observatories to show how amateurs working with affordable "hobbyist" level equipment can image the same faint fuzzies and produce striking results, often much better than the pros could do just a generation ago.  His pictures are scattered throughout the professional set, by way of comparison.

Hubble Space Telescope    Hubble Heritage site:    Some shots are occasionally accompanied by explanatory text. I have added "corrections" when necessary...   : )    Making it so... 

    Warp 1, Mr. Sulu!       M104, the Sombrero Galaxy       A Black Hole (or is it white?) NGC4438 Virgo's Eye

 3C273brightest quasar, see Arp;      NGC2207/IC2163;       the Egg Nebula;         The Fried Egg Galaxy,   (large)

The Mice,  (large Schur     The Tadpole, (largeSchur       Hoag's Object, (a perfect ring galaxy, with another within it)

Polar Ring Galaxy (merger)      Abell 1689, awesome galaxy cluster (large)        NGC1275, (aka Perseus A, Abell 426)

WIYN  ~      NGC891, spectacular shot of this nearby galaxy.      The Pelican Nebula, in Cygnus 

    Abell 39, planetary neb Schur;        Markarian 205 bright galaxy/quasar combo, see Arp;  

NOAO  ~   The Veil Nebula, a supernova remnant (small) M 3 (large)Double Cluster Centaurus Galaxy Cluster;    

       M39, loose open cluster in Cygnus with a two tiny galaxies and dark dust clouds, sublime!!!  (large) 

European Southern Observatory       NGC6872/IC4970        ESO269-57        Warp 2,  Mr. Sulu!

         Quasar HE 1013-2136        Tarantula Nebula        Galaxy Cluster  

Cassini/Huygens  The latest from the mission to Saturn:  wow and wower!  Here's Jupiter from Cassini.  And it should only get better... As of July 4th, 2004  It's arrived!   Oh my!   Huygens sets down safely on Titan!  Selected awsomes: Mimas Blues, Iapetus Encounter, Iapetus by Saturnshine, Nature's Canvas, Iapetus Landslide,

Dr. Robert Gendler  has kindly allowed me to show some of his pictures here.  He is among the very best of the astroimaging magi.  Please see his site.   Here are a few of his most impressive astrophotographs:

  Best photos ever of Messier 31, the Andromeda Galaxy, the nearest large spiral to our own:

M31,   close-up,    super close-up,    hyper close-up (ok this one's a Hubble!)     super-hyper-mega close-up.

Dr. Gendler is a master of mosaicing astro images, and teasing out minute detail; for example:

           NGC7331;     M109;    Virgo Cluster;     NGC5985 (a beautiful trio of galaxies);

  And this spectacular mosaic of M81 & M82[Note the low surface brightness dwarf galaxy above M81, Tomm has ID'd this as Holmberg 9, a member of the 81/82 group.]  small

Chris Schur has also allowed me to decorate my site with his beautiful astrophotography, as mentioned above, and I thank him very much for that.  Please visit his site

Here's some more deep space in your face:

  The Crab, trapped by Charlie Hoffman, of SPAC [also by permission]

Chris Curran of SPAC took these shots that I just love for their natural color, strong contrast, and especially for composing them in context [also by permission]:   M8      M16     M20     M27      M33 

These are a coupla randomly collected items I really like: Omega CentauriComa Cluster, (Abell 1656)  Aurora Tree  Galaxywebs   

M1 in bas relief,  From Galaxies, by Timothy Ferris, the best storyteller about science ever.  This image combines a negative and a positive print, taken fourteen years apart, by Walter Baade and Guido Munch.  It shows the expansion of the Supernova remnant during that time.  Awesome... 

Here's a great essay on observing the universe directly:     Here's the 200 Brightest Galaxies in the Local Supercluster 

  Here's a list of Arp's key's to the Universe, arranged in RA.    And if that ain't enough for your deep sky fix, check this out!

My Modern Art Collection

I want to start with some extraordinary artwork of an astronomical nature.  My friend Raul Leon makes sketches at the eyepiece, an old-fashioned and very valuable observing technique.  But you have to see how he's updated it, and created a new class of art in the process.  For all amateur astronomers and space buffs.

When it comes to art I'm very hard to please. See this little essay, for instance.  For my eye, most of the best art done today is done with cameras, not canvas, and here's some of my favorites.

Music, History, and Astronomy Cartoons: 

"Not bad, fellas..."         Dilbert, on gravity and confronting Death        Hard Lesson  

A Foxtrot Christmas      Frank & Ernest: 12      Arlo and Janis    Best Get Fuzzy ever

"I love mankind, it's people I can't stand."  ~  Linus                     

"I've developed a new philosophy:  I only dread one day at a time" ~ Charlie Brown


  Assorted sorts of things

Where you Live #1   Where you live #2     Where you live #3     Where you live #4

  Galaxy Song  (by Monty Python)   Abell Clusters in 3-D       Supercluster Map      

 My Dream House  (talk about a room with a view!)       500 Years of Exploration

Here are some more original poetic and prosaic scribblings of my own:

The Poet              Pity the Monastic Life             Quantum University   Still Quiet Night           Galaxy Rise!     

    Over the Cataract           Shadowplay           Maiku            Skhai-ku

Articles"Stalking the Fires of Creation:  Gould's Belt and the Astrophysics of Our Part of the Milky Way" --  [ in Astronomy magazine, September '04 ]  By the way, pleased as I was to have an article published in a big glossy, there is a section, titled "Rough Neighborhood" which I did not write a word of and is irrelevant and even quite likely wrong.  Be it known...

Brief Biography of Benjamin Gould    Benjamin A. Gould  Photo of the great 19th century American Astronomer

"Comets, Cosmologies and Civilization:  How Astronomy Built Our World and May Yet Save It.  Or, Why Ra Has Wings"  --  by Matt Terry  [Embargoed until nobody will buy it!]   Book jack it

I will continue to give talks to astronomy groups on this and other topics, including "What Messier Missed" and "CSI in the Sky", based on the article above: my public schedule


                                              Who said dat?!     (a page of quotations I've found myself fond of)

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination ~ John Lennon

I’d love to turn you on ~ Paul McCartney

With every mistake, we must surely be learning ~ George Harrison

I get by with a little help from my friends ~ Ringo Starr


"Musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood..."-- E.M. Forster

Albert Einstein was more than just good at physics.  He was a keen observer of human nature, and quite pithy in his assessments of our kind and our predicaments...  Sir Albert


"It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness."  ~Confucius

Bertrand Russell had a great mind, and said much I can agree with.

Comedians say funny stuff, here's some


If you want to e-mail me, send to matthew.terry6 at  (use the usual @ sign)

My deep thanks to Sam Johnston for his invaluable assistance in readying and hosting this site.  See him on the Web at 

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