Martz-Kohl Observatory: Touching the Color of Stars

Tom Field, creator and developer of the RSpec program to study the composition of stars.
Tom Field, creator and developer of the RSpec program to study the composition of stars.

“You’ll feel like you can almost touch the stars,” according to this month’s special guest speaker, Tom Field, at Martz-Kohl Observatory (MKO), slated for 7:30 Wednesday evening, January 20. This is another in MKO’s popular series of webinar-Zoom special presentations open to the public.

Simply go to and sign on starting at 7:15 and join the audience. All programs at MKO, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to education, are open to the general. There is never an admission charge at MKO, but donor contributions are always appreciated online at

Tom Field has been an enthusiastic amateur astronomer for more than 25 years and has been a Contributing Editor at Sky & Telescope Magazine for the past 7 years. He also developed special astronomy software and manages a 100-person software company that produces RSpec software (

But according to Tom, “Even if you wanted to touch a star, you’d find it is impossibly far away.” Despite these great distances, astronomers have learned an enormous amount about stars by using a method called spectroscopy. It is the science of colors, analyzing the rainbow spectrum produced by shining starlight through a prism. Spectroscopy can tell astronomers exactly what stars are made of and much more, almost like really being there. And best of all, just about every
star is different and can tell its own fascinating story.

Guests at MKO’s January webinar will learn that new tools are making spectroscopy accessible to almost all of us and you no longer need a big budget! Anyone with a back-yard telescope (parents, think Christmas!) and the right camera – as easy as a simple web cam – “can now easily study the stars yourself,” Tom promises.

Tom asks, “Wouldn’t you like to detect the atmosphere on Neptune or the distance to exotic stars right from your own backyard?!”
In his talk, Top will present lots of fascinating examples and help MKO’s guests understand how spectroscopy is used in research. Even armchair astronomers can easily understand this field and enhance the beauty of the night sky they may never see the same way again.

As always, we’ll also do a live and lively Q&A after Tom’s presentation.
Tom is a popular speaker who has spoken across the country to hundreds of astronomy associations and clubs, both via the web and in-person at many conferences and other special presentations.

Coming Soon!

As a result of recent grants provided by a number of generous, key community organizations, MKO will soon have the capability to make deep sky observation of planets, stars and far-off galaxies possible as part of our Zoom webinar series. This will return the possibility of looking through the telescopes to webinar guests, in some ways the same as in-person guests could previously and will again soon upon reopening.

These new systems will also expand the ability of local schools, colleges, and universities to use the MKO telescopes for their own educational and research purposes.

Please join MKO’s growing audiences signing in locally and across the country, starting at 7:15 for the 7:30 presentation on Wednesday evening, January 20, 2021. Simply go to and sign on.

See you there, and keep looking up.

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.