About Dogstar Observatory

Dogstar Observatory is a home astronomical observatory located in the Balsam Mountain Preserve community near Sylva, North Carolina.


In 2008 we decided to build a second home in the mountains of western North Carolina. In addition to a mountain retreat from the noise, traffic and heat of Atlanta, we wanted to take advantage of the dark skies and incorporate an observatory into the home’s design. With the help of Al Platt at Platt Architecture in Brevard, we were able to combine our objectives for a blending of mountain and contemporary styles with an observatory that did not detract from the beauty of the home or the mountains. You can see construction photos at the link below. I researched a number of options for home observatories before deciding to adopt the sliding roof design. Although there are many examples of amateur observatories with flat sliding roofs, a peaked roof design that could be incorporated into a home was uncommon. Thanks to the folks at RollaMatic in San Francisco, it’s hard to tell there is anything unusual about the house with the roof is closed.


Thus was born Dogstar Observatory. Sam (the original astro dog) was our 6 year old Shih Tzu who often kept me company during nighttime observations. RIP Sam. Elsewhere on the site you can see some of my efforts to master the complex art of astrophotography. It’s still hard to grasp how much time it really takes to capture detailed images of even bright objects like M42. Of course capturing the images is just the first step with the myriad of options for image stacking and correction. Hope you enjoy the site and images. 


This site is more than just about astronomy and astrophotography. It is also home to other interests including ham radio, astrophysics, nature photography, space travel and flying. Check out the links in the menu. In addition the cameras on the webcam link that I installed mostly to spot native wildlife, images from an all sky camera are posted where you might catch the occasional meteor shower or ISS pass.


I would also like to call your attention to the community we live in. Balsam Mountain Preserve is not your typical gated mountain community. Nearly 80% of the 4400 acres are deeded permanently to a land trust and will never be developed. While we have an amazing golf course, we are not exclusively a ‘golf community’ where all the homes are clustered around the course. We have an active Nature Center with full time staff that serve to educate residents and the surrounding communities in Jackson County about nature and the importance of conserving our natural environment. Click below to learn more about the Preserve.


Be sure to check out the blog tab. Here I will post information on astronomy of interest to the community along with nature photos and other information. Be sure to email me from the contacts page if there are any astronomy related topics you would like to see or if you have any questions about Dogstar Observatory.


About Me

I spent most of my career in engineering and founding high technology startups. After graduating from Georgia Tech with a degree in electrical engineering in 1974, I worked in DOD and NASA funded research at the Georgia Tech Research Institute and for a succession of companies like Motorola and Scientific Atlanta (now part of Cisco). Since 1984 when I helped to found my first startup (Tridom), I became addicted to the entrepreneurial life and helped to start and exit from numerous startups in satellite communications and semiconductors. My latest (and last!) is Cognosos, a company that provides asset intelligence services for the logistics and healthcare industries. You can find more about Cognosos here.


When I am not being an entrepreneur, I enjoy tennis, hiking, skiing, astronomy and travel. We split our time between Atlanta and Sylva, North Carolina. Our 18 pound “Schnoodle” (a hybrid breed with a schnauzer father and a poodle mother) keeps me company in the observatory.