Mel Bartels, BBAstroDesigns homepage

BBAstroDesigns, Inc
Minor planet (17823) named Bartels by the International Astronomical Union
About Mel Bartels
Contact Mel Bartels
Telescope making and amateur astronomy
Speaking engagements
Books, articles
Top Bar Hive



Observing at the Oregon Star Party, 2011
(image courtesy Craig Stott)

10.5 inch f2.7

6 inch f/2.8

13 inch f/3.0 ZipDobII

Sunset October 2014

Main bee yard in the morning, July 2014

Moon at sunset, July 2014

December 2013 morning sunrise from the back deck

Venus and Moon at sunset, Sept 2013

Annular eclipse, May 20, 2012

Venus transit, June 5, 2012

Sun pillar

About Mel

For my part I know nothing with any certainty,
but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
Vincent van Gogh

Mel Bartels is currently IT Manager at OMRI - Organic Materials Review Institute and has worked as a software manager, architect and lead developer, specializing in leading software teams and creating production optimization applications. He also developed an open sourced telescope control system that became popular worldwide. A speaker at astronomical conferences, his telescope walkabouts are a highlight at the Oregon Star Party. The I.A.U. named asteroid 17823 Bartels in recognition for his contributions to amateur astronomy. Mel enjoys helping with his wife’s treatment free beekeeping. Previously he played trumpet professionally with the symphony and jazz bands and holds a pilot’s license.

In elementary school, for an assignment titled "If You Could Make Two Wishes and Have Them Come True, What Would They Be?", I wrote "My first wish would be to have a flying saucer that had telescope in it. My second wish would be to be a great music player." Well, I am an amateur astronomer, I played trumpet professionally for many years, and have a pilot's license. I had a lot of fun in HS - music, chess, science.  Our chess team was undefeated in the northwest for several years and won the state championship 4 yrs running. One year I managed to place 6th-11th in the national HS championships in NY.  I was also fortunate to win the state solo contest for trumpet two years in a row.

Speaking Engagements

ALCON Aug '07, Portland, Oregon
Altaz Initiative, Meter-Class Astronomy Conference, Jan '12, Waimea, Hawaii
Altaz Initiative, PDX Workshops, July '06, Aug '11, July '12, Portland Oregon
Atlanta Astronomy Expo, May '01, Atlanta, Georgia
AstroImage 97, Orange County, California
Battle Point Astronomical Society May '99, Nov '04, Bainbridge Island, Washington
Boise Astronomical Society, June '00, April '03, Boise, Idaho
Dallas Astronomical Society, June '98, Dallas, Texas
Golden State Star Party, July '12, Adin, California
Idaho Star Party, Sept '04, Boise, Idaho
Image The Sky, Nov '99, June '04, July '05, Salem/Portland, Oregon
International Mars Society meeting star party presentation, Aug '03, Eugene, Oregon
International Optics Workshop, Bellingham, Washington, speaker most years
Laurel Highlands Star Cruise, June '04, Morgantown, West Virginia
Mt Bachelor Star Party, Sept '02, Aug '03, Aug '08, Bend, Oregon
NEAF (Northeast Astro Forum), Apr '05, New York, New York
Oregon Star Party, 'scope walkabout' held every year, Prineville, Oregon
Okie-Tex Star Party, Oct '99, Black Mesa, Oklahoma
Rose City Astronomer's April '99, Sept '06, Portland, Oregon
Roseburg Astronomical Society, Nov '01, May '02, June '03, Aug '04, Roseburg, Oregon
RASC, June '07, Vancouver, British Columbia
RETA (REunión de Telescopios de Aficionado), August '10, Aras de los Olmos, Spain
Spokane Astronomical Society, April '07, Spokane, Washington
Starfest Aug '07, Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Table Mountain Star Party, Aug '05, Ellensburg, Washington
Telescope Optics Workshop, Mar '99, April '00, April '01, Bellingham, Washington
The Wilderness Center Astronomy Club, Nov '99, Wilmot, Ohio
Winter Star Party, Feb '02, West Summerland Key, Florida

Books, Articles, Magazines, Photos

Contributing author, Lightweight Alt-Az Research Telescope Developments, publisher Collins Press
Contributing author, Amateur Telescope Making, publisher Springer
Contributing author, Best of Amateur Telescope Making Journal I and II, publisher Willman-Bell
Contributing author, Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics, publisher Nature Publishing Group, Macmillan Publishers
Circuit Cellar article appearing in May, '00
Sky and Telescope articles appearing in April '79, Nov '99, April '00, Aug '04, Jan '12, Sept '14
Amateur Astronomy magazine issues #57, 69, 82
Featured in The Oregonian, Sept 3, '97, C8
Featured in Air and Space, Dec/Jan, '98 pg 38
Cover story for Amateur Telescope Making Journal, #12, '98
Mentioned in Astronomia (Italy), pg 49, April, '97
Photo in Windows Tech Journal, Dec '92, pg 58
AstroRapport (Norway) article, nr.4, '95
Observatory Techniques #12, '94
Northwest Astrophotography Show, '96, 2nd place


A meteor's streak,
 a sweet remembrance flashes in my heart,
 my mind's eye.
My soul's moment's tug,
 at the corners of my lips,
 my eye's brief glitter.
The meteor swiftly fires,
 my illumination dwindles softly;
 illimitable passion to the hushed stars.
Mel Bartels, 1995

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
 Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
 Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
 You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
 High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
 I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
 My eager craft through footless halls of air.
 Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
 I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
 Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
 And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
 The high un-trespassed sanctity of space,
 Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee 1940, often quoted after the 1986 Challenger accident

"If we die, we want people to accept it. We hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life." -Gus Grissom

Carl Sagan's Reflections on a Mote of Dust
Ann Druyan on science and wonder
Carl Sagan on "Science Is a Way of Thinking"


Piloting over the Cascades of central Oregon; flying over the rim of Mt St Helens
Piloting over Three Sisters