howiemachFrom New York, Howie is well-known for his innovations for collimating various types of telescopes.  He has produced many award-winning products and been issued several patents for his ideas.  He operates his own company and showcases his products at

Howie tells us a little about himself:

I’ve had a strong curiosity about the physical world for as long as I can remember. As a child, I played and experimented with machines and electricity, and I was given a book about astronomy for my ninth birthday. I read Scientific American magazine as a teenager, and it was in those pages that I first read about telescope and mirror making, and also the Stellafane star party. I studied electrical engineering at college, but dropped out in my second year, as there were more important events transpiring at that time which, as a matter of conscience, required my attention.

At 39, I purchased a little bungalow in the Catskill Mountains of New York where the skies are dark, and one night a friend of mine said, “Look at that milky way! – you’ve got to get a telescope.” I took that advice, and purchased my first telescope; a 10.1” Coulter Odyssey. As the sky darkened on the first night out with it, I studied the sky chart in the magazine centerfold thinking I would carefully aim the telescope at some of the denoted objects. At the last minute impatience got the better of me, and I just started sweeping with the low power eyepiece. As fate would have it, the first thing that wound up in the field of view was the Great Nebula in Orion, which I didn’t even know existed at that time. I could see green color, and I think at that moment I became hooked on astronomy.

A few years later I read a review in Astronomy magazine of one of the first commercial laser collimators, and thought to myself, “This sounds like it might be a useful gadget”. By that time I had become a self-taught machinist, so I made a laser collimator and tried it out. The results were so good that I decided to make about a dozen more and bring them with me to the swap tables at Stellafane. In a few hours they were sold out, and I realized I might have a new way to earn a living, one that I wouldn’t even have to feel bad about.

In the 18 years since, as telescope collimation has become ever more critical, with faster focal ratios and larger imaging chips, important new techniques and hardware for laser collimation have been developed. I have enjoyed being a part of this very rewarding pursuit, and it has deepened my understanding of the optical principles involved.


Howie will be an instructor for: