James R. Foster

Los Angeles, California

NEO Obs. Code: G72


Contact information

e-mail: jrfcomet@sbcglobal.net   

website: http://astroimage.info


Astrophotography publications

Astronomy Magazine (US), Astronomy Now (UK), Web Society (UK), Deep Sky Magazine (US), Newsweek Magazine (US and Latin American editions), Sky & Telescope (US), Coelum Astronomia (Italy) and Tenjmon Guide (Japan).


I have been interested in Astronomy since I was about 7 years old and remember the vivid lunar eclipses my father pointed out and all the excitement (misguided!) about Comet Kohoutek in early 1974.  I began reading Sky & Telescope and other astronomical magazines towards the late 1970s and purchased a C-8 telescope in early 1981; this was almost too advanced for me at the time!  I built a very rickety 17.5” Dobson in my backyard around 1985.  I noted the lunar occultation of Antares in early 1987 and decided to get “serious” about astronomy.  I purchased a Meade 10” F/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain and a smaller 4” Schimdt-Cassegrain, and started to dabble in astrophotography.   I traveled to many dark sky locations in the intervening 2 years but found the most consistent condition wise and closest dark sky area to be Mt. Pinos in 1988-89.  Late in the 1990s I decide to obtain a larger scope of better quality and larger aperture that was commercially available at the time.  In conjunction with Optician Tom Scott (Scott Optics) and Parallax, Inc, I designed and had built my present system, a 13” F/7.5 classical cassegrain reflecting telescope.    I enjoy shooting peculiar galaxies, at high focal length, but also enjoy shooting comets and any other type of rare astronomical events. I had the unique experience of viewing the total eclipse of the sun from Bolivia in November 1994 and had the privilege of conducting my own astrophotography from Carnage's Las Campanas Observatory, Chile in 1996. I have over a hundred of my images published in various magazines in the U.S, U.K, Italy, Latin America and Japan. These include Astronomy Magazine (US), Astronomy Now (UK), Deep Sky Magazine (US), Newsweek Magazine (US and Latin America), Sky & Telescope (US), Coelum Astronomia (Italy) and Tenjmon Guide (Japan). In connection with my physics undergraduate degree, I have worked at the JPL Table Mountain Facility to help gather asteroid astrometric data for Dr. William M. Owen, metallicity studies of globular clusters under Dr. Steve Gillam, and NEO asteroid research under Dr. Michael Hicks.    I live in Los Angeles but do most of my shooting from Mt. Pinos, California or the area north of Red Rock State Park, California.  I have a BA in English from the California State University, Los Angeles. I am in the process of finishing my second BA, in Physics, at CSULA.

Present Activity

Most of my present activity concern variable star data collection and reduction.  Using the 33 centimeter aperture cassegrain  with an Astro-Physics 1200 Goto mount, and SBIG (ST-7E & STL-11K) CCD cameras, I have made almost 2,000 asteroid measurements for the Minor Planet Center (at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory ) and over 20,000 photometry observations (Jan2013) for the American Association for Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) from my home built observatory within 10 miles of downtown Los Angeles.  I conduct most variable star observations using CCD Autopilot and MaximDL in an autonomous mode. I usually set-up after I get home from work and shut-down the next morning before going to work, without any other intervention in-between.   Flats, Focusing, Plate-Solving, object acquisition, and darks are handled with a pre-arranged sequence of objects made in CCD Autopilot. I hope to acquire a new CCD camera dedicated for astrometric/photometric astronomy in the near future.


Areas of astrophotography interest
                                     Deep Sky, Comets, & Planetary                                       
Observing sites
Los Angeles home observatory & Mount Pinos, California, Red Rock State Park, Inyo-Kern Road, Ca 

Astronomical Equipment

Telescopes Mount CCD cameras


13” F/7.5 classical cassegrain reflecting telescope

Astro-Physics 1200GTO2 Mount



10-inch f/4.5 Newtonian


4-inch Genesis refractor



Los Angeles Home Observatory (Neo Obs. Code: G72 and AAVSO Code: FJQ)
The telescope is a fast 13-inch, f/7.5 Classical Cassegrain utilizing a unique truncated cone primary mirror design.  It sits atop an Astro-Physics 1200 GOTO mount.


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Please send feedback to: James R. Foster E-Mail at jrfcomet@sbcglobal.net