Our Astronomers

DSNM counts some of the top astronomers and astrophotographers from around the world as members of our community. Read here for some of their incredible accomplishments.

Dan Crowson

Dan Crowson is the head of IT for a national telecommunications equipment reseller headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri. Dan’s interest in astronomy started with a Tasco that he can’t ever remember seeing anything through. After a long hiatus, he took a couple of college classes on astronomy and purchased a telescope in 2011. After not being able to see much because of light pollution, he started taking images. Dan currently heads up the Imaging SIG for the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri and has over 160 images published. “Dark Sky New Mexico is the premier astronomy site for astronomers with or without a budget. You can’t beat the value or the skies,” he says. All photos are shot at DSNM in Animas, NM.

Mark Hanson

Mark Hanson has been an amateur astrophotography for 25 years. He first started out with a local group in Wisconsin, but soon realized the need to move to darker skies. That led him to Dark Sky New Mexico in Animas, NM where he runs his telescope and equipment remotely. Mark's work has been featured in the Albuquerque Museum, Astronomy Magazine, APOD, and at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. He received the first place award in the Robotic Telescope category through Astronomy Photographer of the Year in 2014. All photos are shot at DSNM in Animas, NM.




Eric Africa

Eric Africa has always been interested in astronomy since he was a child, but he did not take up the hobby until the apparition of the spectacular comet Hyakutake in 1996. He ventured into astrophotography in 1997 when another bright comet, Hale-Bopp, made its appearance. Eric started off photographing solar system objects, first with film then with digital cameras. That was followed in 2003 with digital photography of deep space objects using astronomy-specific digital cameras. This has been the medium that he has embraced since. He imaged primarily from his backyard in Ohio initially, but the call of dark skies led him to Dark Sky New Mexico in Animas, NM. “It’s been a fulfilling experience doing astrophotography at DSNM and its beautiful skies,” he says. His images have been featured in Sky & Telescope, Astronomy Magazine, Astronomy Now and calendars published by the Cincinnati Observatory Center.



Gregg Ruppel

Gregg Ruppel lived  in  St. Louis for most of his life, but relocated to Tucson in 2017.  He worked as the Director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory at St. Louis University Hospital for 34 years and retired in 2013. Gregg has been interested in astronomy since the early sixties and owns several telescopes. He began imaging in 1997 when he built a CB245 CCD camera and now uses the SBIG STL11000M.  Gregg has been capturing his images at DSNM since 2016. Gregg is also a member of the Eureka Observers Club, the St. Louis Astronomical Society, Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri (ASEM), and the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (TAAA). To the left is his video captured at DSNM in Animas, NM.

Brian Ottum

Brian Ottum was bitten by the astronomy bug at age 12 when he saw the full moon turn orange (a lunar eclipse). Brian is a bit of an astronomy polymath, with accomplishments in visual observing, outreach, research and imaging. He’s volunteered at Bryce Canyon National Park, showing the night sky to thousands of visitors and started a telescope observing program for the Detroit Public Schools. His astrophotography has been featured in International Dark Sky Association’s calendar, the cover of Reflector Magazine, and Sky & Telescope among others. “Each time I visit DSNM I marvel at the inky-black skies, quietness and closeness to space,” he shares. This video is shot at photos are shot at DSNM in Animas, NM.