Starstruck: Astrophotography among Art at the Strand Members Show | New


PLATSBURGH – At 17, Airman 2nd Class Herb Carpenter was stationed at Goose Bay Air Force Base, Labrador, in 1956.

He was 1,347 miles from Boston, where he was born and raised.

“I have never seen the night sky,” he said.

“All I saw were the plumes of smoke and all the rest of the factories.

“When I got off the plane at my base in Goose Bay, Labrador… the night sky was the most wonderful thing I have ever seen in my life. I just knew that one day, somehow, I would be involved.

“Rosette Nebula” and “Andromeda Galaxy” are two of the astrophotographer’s works on display at the Strand Center for the Arts’ Annual Holiday Members Show, which runs until December 31 at the Main Gallery, located at 23 Brinkerhoff St., Plattsburgh.

The exhibition features painting, drawing, photography, jewelry, sculpture, fiber, ceramics, stained glass, pearl weaving, printmaking, mixed media and carpentry.

Featured artists include Carpenter, John Cullen, Ann Pember, Suzanne Doin, Sandy Fox, Judy Guglielmo, Marilyn Kretser, Douglas Wooser, Wind Sop, Ed Rice, Kim Berg, William Leege, Jennifer L. Ashline, Anne Bailey, Charlene Newman, Darlene Cullen, Bill Crosby, Ian Burcroff, Dick Brogowski, Jim Kobak, Patricia Downs, Renee Gifford, Ron Nolland, Bob Lange, Michael LaFontaine, Emily Latour, Angela Nephew and Eric Timmerman.


Carpenter, a nuclear weapons technician, was stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base in 1957.

“I came here with the Air Force after I finished my Goose Bay tour, fell in love with the city and stayed here,” he said.

After separating from the military, Carpenter joined the Plattsburgh Police Department.

“When I was a police officer, probably 10 years of my career, I did virtually all of the crime scene photography and evidence gathering,” he said.

“It was my first exposure to photography. But I loved doing it. And at the same time, I attended college (SUNY Plattsburgh) part-time while I was working. I worked a night shift. And in college, pretty much every elective, I took photography classes and took a few electives in astronomy.

He obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling.

In 1975, he became chief of police and retired six years later.


Next, Carpenter created The Northeast Group, publisher of Strictly Business.

He later became a professor at the School of Business and Economics at SUNY Plattsburgh.

For 12 years he taught business ethics and public speaking.

“I never really got into this hobby until I took a job with SUNY,” he said.

“Teaching is a day job, and it’s not a very difficult job. So I had a lot of time. I started to engage in a hobby, and I decided to do it in astronomy. It was in 2005 or 2006.

During his first semester at Plattsburgh State, Carpenter attended a faculty party at Colin Read’s Mooers Residence.

“He had telescopes as his porch outside the house,” Carpenter said.

“He was the Dean of the Business School at the time, so I reported to him. I told him a bit about it, then bought my first telescope. It was a little one on a tripod, but then I got hit.


Carpenter built the observatory once he was immersed in astronomy.

“So I can do my observation inside, and I also do my imaging inside this observatory,” he said.

“It’s in my front yard. I have two telescopes, a large one and a smaller one for different reasons. They take on a different kind of image. I have a camera on each of them. One gives a very narrow field of view so I can reach a nebula like the Eagle Nebula that Hubble (space telescope) produced the Pillars of Creation (1995).

“I can look deep into this nebula and actually see the Pillars of Creation.”

The second telescope has a very wide field, which gives it a very wide panoramic view.

“My system is now specifically for astronomy,” he said.

“To make an image, there are hours of separate images. I shoot, generally, two to three minutes per frame.


Carpenter looks through all kinds of junk such as satellite tracks in the night sky.

“There is a lot of atmospheric disturbance at low altitude,” he said.

“When I process my images, I have to eliminate all this garbage that is in the sky. “

Carpenter posts his images of the deep sky in his family’s business on a 44-inch printer, which does color work as seen in his November exhibit, “Photographic Images of Majesty, Beauty and Beauty. splendor of the night sky ”in the Main Gallery of Strand.

“I use a planetarium program to do all of my planning because every night is not clear,” he said.

“When the night is clear and everything is working in my dome and I’m motivated, I actually use a planetarium in my computer. I select where the objects are. I select those who are above all of great beauty, who also have scientific value which also has meaning for me.

For example, he clicks on the planetarium program and tells it to go to the Orion Nebula.

“Which is a magnificent nebula,” Carpenter said.

“Then I scan and take evidence images which are processed to tell me if I got everything the right way. “

It’s no different than what photographers frame on the ground.

“It’s the same thing, except I’m doing it millions of miles away,” Carpenter said.

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Twitter: @RobinCaudell


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