My name is Michael Overacker. I am a retired professional firefighter and fire officer with 24 years of service. In 1975, I became a professional photographer and started my professional photography business, Decent Exposure Photographics, in 1979. I am also a luthier (guitar builder) at Overacker Guitars, as well as a musician, recording engineer, and a Frisbee and disc sports enthusiast.
I first became interested in astronomy around 1967, driven by interest in NASA and the space program, and was given a 60mm Sears Refractor telescope for Christmas. Astronomy was a big part of my life until I discovered girls in the late ‘70’s, although astronomy was still important to me: I customized a Ford van and named it the Star Gazer.
After years of working as a professional firefighter and starting and running my own businesses, I decided to rekindle my interest in astronomy in 2003. Suddenly, all the telescopes I could not afford when I was younger had become very affordable. I bought many of them, and built several telescopes, including my main telescope, a 15” f4.85 Truss Dobsonian tracking GoTo telescope. It was then that I started to feel the need to pass on my knowledge to others.
I have completed numerous Astronomical League observing programs. I am an Astronomical League Master Observer and an Astronomical League Master of Outreach. Most of my astronomy is now dedicated to outreach, although I spend an increasing amount of time doing astrophotography. I helped with the installation of telescopes and equipment at the University of Lynchburg Belk Observatory, maintained the 20” RCOS telescope and related equipment, and assisted in running the observatory and its astronomy outreach programs for six years.
Since 2004, I have run an astronomy outreach program called Astronomy Mobile Outreach, through which I have presented 225+ outreach programs to over 12,000 people. Astronomy Mobile Outreach has become a successful, internationally recognized program. I have an Astronomy Mobile Outreach Vehicle (AMOV) that I use to transport all needed telescopes and associated equipment to outreach programs. I am also the webmaster of several astronomy related websites and social media pages.
I hope to continue to present astronomy outreach programs for many years to come and to allow Explore Scientific products to be introduced to outreach attendees.