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Goeff, Laird, Kojo and Martin in studio (63,079 bytes) Company Seven routinely gives its time, equipment and staff to non profit organizations as an integral component of our public service oriented mindset. In a rare semi-public speaking appearance, Martin Cohen of Company Seven accepted the invitation to be among a panel of three in a discussion about amateur astronomy technology with the host of a program broadcast on on Public Radio. The show was aired by the WAMU American University Public Radio "Kojo Nnamdi Show" weekly "Tech Tuesday" program. WAMU transmits at 88.5 FM and is operated by the American University at 4000 Brandywine Street, NW Washington, DC. Company Seven is a supporter of Public Radio, and this was a welcome invitation particularly since Mr. Kojo Nnamdi is among our most liked personalities in broadcasting.

Image at Right: Geoff Chester, Laird Calia, host Kojo Nnamdi, and Martin Cohen in the WAMU broadcast studio.
Click on image to see enlarged view (259,800 bytes).

As described by the host: "technology is driving a revolution in amateur astronomy. Improvements in telescopes, computerized data, cameras, and more means backyard stargazers now have access to information that only a few years ago would have been limited to the hands of experts. A look at the technology of amateur astronomy -- and what you might discover by just looking up."

The panelists for this program included:

  • Charles Laird Calia, an amateur astronomer from Connecticut and author of the book "The Stargazing Years".

  • Geoff Chester, a well liked amateur astronomer in our community and a friend for many years. Geoff is a Public Affairs Officer with the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., and he is a member of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club.

  • Martin Cohen, Director of Company Seven Astro-Optics Division.

The live radio program aired on 21 June at 12:00 pm noon and ran for the entire hour. This recorded program aired again at 8:00 pm.

The discussion conveyed to the public information about the current state of the technology in the hobby, with some mention of the past and future. The moderator made brought out the best of each panelist and all assured the information was presented in a manner so that the novice could easily comprehend the subject. All participants and listeners found this hour long discussion went by quickly, and it included moments of amusement too including stories from the panelists about their first telescopes, and their experiences constructing telescopes and a home observatory. Telephone callers were allowed to chime in throughout the live hour segment, and soon it became obvious with the frequent "Hi Marty's" that all but possibly one of the callers knew Martin; Kojo commented "this is becoming the Friends of Martin Cohen show".

The comments from the panelists and callers described the pros and cons of computerized amateur telescopes, CCD imaging compared to astrophotography with film. There was some discussion about the philosophical differences among the astronomy community about the "go to" automated technology versus the time honored "star hop" and learn the night sky methods. Martin mentioned the value of participating in astronomy club events, David Crawfords "Dark Sky Association" which Geoff was in a good position to elaborate about since he is a regional coordinator for the effort. Martin referred callers who are considering the purchase of a new telescope to the Company Seven list of regional astronomy clubs at And another who asked for advice about cleaning optics was assisted by Martin and also referred to the on line article about cleaning consumer optics also on line. Another caller pointed out what a nice group of people they are who make up the astronomy community.

The discussion closed just before 1 pm, but those who wish to hear it can visit the Kojo Nnamdi Show page describing the "Amateur Astronomy" program , and click on the Real Audio file link to hear the show on their computer "Real Audio" software. Copies of the program are also made available for sale in CD or cassette on the WAMU web site.


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