About the members of the Spiegelteam


Volker Wendel

Weisenheim am Berg, Germany

I live in Germany, an area called "Pfalz" which is located about 80 kilometers southwest of Frankfurt/Main. In my day job, I´m working in the government of my birthplace "Ludwigshafen am Rhein". I was born 1971.

I had my first contact with astronomy when my grandma showed me the moon with a little refractor through an open window when I was 4 years old. For many years I forgot about that and finally came back to astronomy when a friend explained me some star constellations years later. I bought a typical newtonian with 114mm diameter and because of my interest in daylight photography I attached a camera with a 50mm lens and a 1000 ASA film to get a feeling about what is possible shooting at the night sky. On my very first film I recorded a very bright meteor and that image was published on a german book about astrophotography - this was the point of no return for me.

The next few years I used a C8, C11 and finally bought an 15" astrograph newtonian from Philipp Keller in additon to an 12"-f/3-Deltagraph astrograph. These instruments pushed my results to a new level. In 1998 I grounded the "Spiegelteam" together with two friends and we did a lot of medium format b&w and LRGB film shooting with Technical Pan 6415. This time I started digital image processing with a lot of help of a great mentor, Dr. Ernst Brodkorb.

In 2002 I started CCD imaging feeling that a new area in amateur astrography has begun when looking at the results the pioneers in CCD imaging published. Having good equipment and some good processing skills from the film days helped to a have a quick start into that new advanture called CCD. Starting with CCD the Spiegelteam went on in a new constellation, my buddy Bernd Flach-Wilken and I started CCD teamwork even if we live not next door to each other.

Because of the lower than average weather here in germany and especially the light pollution problems I have here in the area I live, I started travelling for astrophotography. I was out many nights in the "Pfälzer Wald", the largest forest in germany with some dark places and later on went to the Gornergrat in Switzerland where astrophotography at an altitude of about 3150 meters surrounded by more than 20 mountains higher than 4000 meters (including the famous "Matterhorn") is a very special highlight. In 1998, 2002 and 2004 I travelled to Namibia for astrophotography with my buddy Bernd Flach-Wilken.

In the past years many of the Spiegelteam images were published in international astronomy magazines and were used for advertisements.

Right now, I´m using a 15"f/4,6 Newtonian in combination with a SBIG ST10XME ccd camera for astrophotography. These instruments are mounted on a heavy german equatorial mount called "Alt AD7" with a weight of about 90 kilograms and is controlled with a FS2-controller.


Bernd Flach-Wilken

Wirges, Germany

Living now in the famous Westerwald just half of the distance between the well known German cities of Köln and Frankfurt,I first came into contact with Astronomy in 1968 as a 16 year old pupil during a school outing at the mid of the Belgium Ardennes.

After having learnt the nothern stellar configurations and having observed the skies with a 8x50 binocular,I got very interested in seeing more of our cosmic neighbours,the moon and the planets.

In 1970 I built my first telescope,after having visited the late Anton Kutter at its home at Biberach,south Germany.I had to become a 150mm katadioptical Schiefspiegler 1:20,with optics from the late Dieter Lichtenknecker.I built the telescope myself and joined with it unforgettable nights observing the moon and the planets.Especially the big Mars opposition 1971 was an unbeatable highlight,in spite of its low position in our northern skies here in Germany. I began to take pictures of these objects and also could launch my first publications in astronomic periodicals.

Through the late 70ies I had a break in astronomy an retook my activities in the early 80ies by building myself a 300mm-Kutter Schiefspiegler,again with optics from the Dieter Lichtenknecker,who produced these optics for himself,but never realized building an instrument with them. All that I saw with my 6inch-Kutter,I now could observe with much deeper intensity an with much more ease and even passion.I use this instrument till today and the now well known Eskimo-nebula was done with this 12"-instrument for example.

Slowly my interest in deep-sky observations grew and parallel to this,I started taking pictures of the rest of the heavens besides the moon an the planets. In 1987 I purchased a Flatfieldcamera 1:3.2/940mm from D.Lichtenknecker and took pictures with hypered TP of quite a lot of red emission nebulas. But first I had to train on this diva of an intrument for 2 years before earning the first negative with pinpoint stars to the 6x6cm edges.

As the light pollution here in my town got worse all the time,I made my first expeditions to the Swiss Gornergrat with some friends of mine. There in the thinair at 3150m altitude I learned to know Volker Wendel,long before the new Spiegelteam araised in 2002 in its actual composition.

My CCD-career started in 1995 with an ST-6,after having bought my first computer ever.The ST6 was followed by an Apogee AM13,a Fleischmann Megatek and the ST10XME,which allowed me for the first time to take wonderful color pictures of deep sky objects,because of its extended blue sensivity.

In 1998 I could manage to get one of the first 16"-Hypergraph instruments from Philipp Keller,the twin of which is now installed in Namibia by my friend Bernd Schröter.This instrument will be rentable to interested amateurs by the end of 2005.

Since 2002 I visited the Namibian farm TIVOLI every year for about 2 weeks for observations with the southern Hypergraph under very favourable dark skies. Here at home,the nothern Hypergraph is my most used instrument now,even if the aperture is quite large for my unfavorable observing site amid a town of about 6000 inhabitants.

The mounting I use since 1983 is a selfbuilt one,with 80mm axis of steel and a high precision 360 teeth gear from Eckard Alt.For better seeing,I use no dome or hut.I observe under the open sky,with my instruments inside the house during bad weather (most of the time here in W-Europe).

I am now part of the new formed Spiegelteam and for me its very pleasing to learn all this new stuff from my younger friend Volker,who is very patient to me...:-))




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