My interest in astronomy began when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois and completed a two-semester sequence in beginning astronomy taught by Professor James Kaler. I continued with a more advanced astronomy class - and even considered switching my major to astronomy - before focusing my efforts on course requirements for a double major in mathematics and statistics. After achieving a masters degree in statistics, my involvement with astronomy faded as I focused energy on my career. It was not until 1987, about 12 years after those early classes, that I rekindled my interest and bought my first telescope, a Meade LX5 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain, a telescope that I still own.

Today I continue as a serious visual observer, and have added to my telescope collection. I own a Borg 101ED, a 4" apochromatic refractor that provides superb wide field views and is a terrific travel telescope. I was fortunate to use this telescope to observe the southern sky in New Zealand, an unforgettable experience. My primary instrument is a 20" f/5 Obsession Dobsonian reflector, which I have outfitted with the ServoCat drive system and Argo Navis computer. Having such a large aperture telescope has truly opened the sky and enabled observations of objects that are far beyond my other two instruments.

All telescopes, no matter how large, are stifled by light pollution, and this led me to a search for a property in a remote location. I bought such a property in 2008, and in 2009 Zephyr Ridge Observatory was born. Having the ability to observe at a dark site within the protected confines of a building is a luxury few amateurs have, and I will attest that having my own observatory has enhanced my observing program to a great extent. In 2010, for example, I logged 315 observations, far more than I had accomplished in previous years.

My primary interest as a visual observer is deep sky objects. I have observed the vast majority of the most popular and brightest of these, at least those visible at my latitude, but I doubt I will ever exhaust the possibilities. I do occasionally observe planets, but not with real purpose other than pure diversion. I am a member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers and sometimes contribute observations of variable stars.

I have recently begun to venture into astrophotography, and you may view some of my images here. Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy the experience of using my eyes, my brain, and ultimately my heart to connect to the vastness that is our universe. And, through this web site, I hope to connect with you, and invite you to contact me if you feel inclined to do so.

Denis Janky