Sacramento Mountains                                                                                       Nature and Sky Inspirations 

My avocational passions have always been astronomy and photography.  With backgrounds in Geology and Archeology, this was a perfect match.  In the Sacramento mountains of southern New Mexico, we have crisp, clean mountain air at 7200′ ft (2195 m) elevation and some of the darkest skies in the world.  Our neighborhood is aptly named Stars End.  We have four relatively mild seasons.  My wife and I share an interest in photography which was part of our reason for choosing this location.  She has a way with animals and a keen eye for natural settings as her photographs will attest.  Check out our gallery

For some time now, my interests in astronomy and photography have been in the process of overlapping each other – hence my sporadic but ever-increasing attempts at astro-imaging.  Furthermore, several years ago, I became fascinated with the sun and have been working to develop my solar imaging skills.  And finally, my most recent interest involves drone flying and aerial photography (click on photo at the lower right to enlarge).  That segued into a developing fascination with time-lapse photography, both in nature and astronomy.  I picked up a new tool, Timelapse+ VIEW, which has made a world of difference in creating timelapses (smooth day to night exposure transitions).  I plan to start previewing timelapses on this site soon.  Stay tuned…  Back to drones:  click on the video below to see a short drone flight over a waterfall in the area.  No excuses but I was pretty new at this when I made this video.  I had always wondered where that waterfall originated – now the world and I both know (more or less).


Sacramento Mountains – looking West

              

 

 

Equipment


 

I have a number of devices that I use for my hobbies, not the least of which is my small (12×10-foot) but effective roll-off observatory, originally built by Durango Skies.  This has not only provided stability and protection from the elements but has also helped me to automate much of my observing and imaging.  I have several imaging scopes for planetary, deep-sky and even solar.  An Astro-Physics 1200GTO mount  is permanently installed in my roll-off and is used with all of these scopes.  I also have a portable iOptron CEM60 mount.  For imaging, I have several video and CCD cameras as well as several DSLRs for both astro and nature photography.  And of course, I have a DJI Phantom 2 drone with a GoPro Hero 3+.  UPDATE (January 2017):  I just got a DJI Phantom 4 Pro  drone with 4K video and collision avoidance!  The local trees and fauna can finally breathe a sigh of relief….  Just kidding – I’m a safe and cautious flyer…  Really, I am.  (I also enjoy a good game of snooker every now and then…)

Robert Ray

 

 

Drone’s Eye View of Stars End in the Sacramento Mountains (7200′ Elevation)