Prof. Greg Parker
B.Sc.(1st Class Hons, 1978), Ph.D. (Surrey University, 1982), Emeritus Professor of Photonics at the University of Southampton.
Greg was born in Essex (U.K.) in 1954. On leaving Tavistock Community College (Tavistock, Devon) he joined the Harwell & Culham laboratories in September 1973 and he also took an H.N.C. in Applied Physics at Oxford Brookes University (then Oxford Polytechnic) as well as the world famous Harwell 3-month training course for new Assistant Scientific Officers – it really was a great course! After two years at the Culham Laboratories working on pulsed and C.W. high power CO2 lasers, and having gained an H.N.C with Distinctions, he went to the University of Sussex in 1975 to take a B.Sc. in Physics Mathematics & Astronomy. In June 1978 he graduated from Sussex with a First Class Honours Degree. Greg then joined the Philips Research Laboratories in Redhill, Surrey (U.K.) and at the same time enrolled for a Ph.D. with the University of Surrey, Guildford (U.K.). The Ph.D. was awarded in December 1982, the subject being “Characterisation of Deep-Levels in Silicon for Applications in Thermal Imaging”.
A further five years were spent in Industry (Semiconductor-related) until 27th April 1987 when he joined the Department of Electronics (as it then was) at the University of Southampton, Hampshire (U.K.). In December 2000 Greg became Professor of Photonics in the School of Electronics & Computer Science at the University of Southampton. His research during this time was in two main areas:
1) Novel growth systems for Silicon compatible materials
2) Silicon-based optoelectronics
Greg designed, built & developed 4 Low-Pressure Chemical Vapour Deposition (LPCVD) systems for the Microelectronics Group at the University, the last system being a large 6-chamber UHV cluster-tool for sequential processing with cassette load/unload stations. These systems were used for researching novel electronic devices incorporating Si, SiGe, SiGeC and Silicon Nitride.
Around 1994 Greg was investigating the formation of high aspect-ratio single crystal Silicon pillars for their light emission properties. This research included (unintentionally!) the fabrication of a Photonic Crystal as part of the process. Since that time Greg’s research has mainly concentrated on Silicon compatible Photonic Crystal structures and their applications.
Greg published over 130-refereed papers and three books, his final paper from Southampton University being a 20-page review article on Nano-optical Biomimetics (Journal of Materials Science, 2010). His first book publication was an introductory semiconductor physics textbook which appeared in 1994 and is still selling well (though with a different publisher). His second book “Making Beautiful Deep-Sky Images: Astrophotography with Affordable Equipment and Software” one of the Patrick Moore “Practical Astronomy” series was published by Springer in September 2007. His third, and latest publication is Star Vistas, a large-format coffee-table picture book published by Springer and contains the best deep-sky images acquired from the New Forest Observatory from early 2005 until early 2008. Star Vistas first appeared on the shelves in March 2009 and has Forewords written by (the late) Sir Arthur C Clarke, (the late) Sir Patrick Moore and Dr. Brian May. In 2016 Greg was asked by Springer to write a Second Edition of his “Making Beautiful Deep-Sky Images” book, which he completed during June of that year. The Second Edition is now available at all good booksellers.
Greg fully retired in 2019 having taken early retirement, age 56, from the University of Southampton on 30th September 2010. Prior to creating the University spin-out company Mesophotonics Ltd. in July 2001, he also created and sold two other successful companies.
Greg lives in the New Forest (U.K.) with his wife, 2 dogs, cat, Koi carp, Celestron Nexstar 11 (Hyperstar 4 converted) computer-controlled telescope, and Ryzen mega image processing computer. On December 1st 2011 he was made Emeritus Professor of Photonics at the University of Southampton. He finished constructing his retirement project – the “mini-WASP” imaging array at the New Forest Observatory – which is now one of the the most powerful amateur imaging facilities on the planet. The mini-WASP comprises 3 x Sky 90 refractors with Trius M26C OSC CCDs , and two Canon 200mm prime lenses, each with an ASI 2600MC-Pro CMOS camera. A Megrez 80 plus Lodestar camera are used for guiding, and the whole lot sits on a Paramount ME. First light for the mini-WASP array was August 2011 so continue visiting this site to keep right up to date with progress on this amazing project. A four monitor computer system (Ryzen-based with 64G of RAM) has been assembled to drive the mini-WASP array and the Hyperstar from indoors, as well as providing the computer power needed to run Photoshop for astro-image processing.
Since 2021 the Hyperstar 4 on the C11 has been running an ASI2600MC Pro camera, both the Hyperstar and the camera having been provided by the centre for all things Hyperstar – Starizona!
I found your website via a Google search for “medium format digital astrophotography,” which took me to a discussion page for the Progressive Astro Imaging Group, where you posed a question about using the PhaseOne P45+. Well, I have one, have had it for about two years now. I mostly use it with an Arca Swiss 6×9 for landscape work, but also on a Hasselblad 503CW. As you note, the long, low-noise exposure times it is capable of suggest that the P45+ should be good for astrophotography. Recently I was approached by the local astronomy club (in Greenbelt, Maryland), none of whom are photographers, about doing some photography for/with them. They have a 14″ Celestron they purchased from a local community college; they are now having it cleaned while they refurbish their tiny observatory dome. I told them I was interested in trying to use the P45+, if we could figure out a way to adapt my Hasselblad to the scope. One member who has modest machining skills has devised a plate that will connect it via one of my Hassey extension tubes. So soon I should be able to report whether I’ve been able to make it work. I have not done any astronomy since I was a pre-teen, when a friend had a 3″ reflector, so this will all be a new experience.
I was born in 1948, grew up in the Midwest US (Missouri and Illinois), went to college in Wisconsin, then lived 22 years in Minneapolis, Minnesota where I got my PhD in Theatre Arts. As there were no faculty positions to even apply for when I completed in the midst of a recession, I became an administrator. For the past 21 years I’ve been associate dean of the Graduate School at Georgetown in Washington. I don’t hold a faculty post, but I do teach a graduate course on the history and rhetoric of photography.
Once upon a time we were colleagues in ECS. I wanted some advice: my son, Orlando (now 18) is interested in taking up astronomy photography. He is a keen photographer anyway and is looking to do a Physics degree. What is a good starting equipment? A star tracker, a telescope extension for his camera (is that going to give him better photos that a 300mm lens)…
If your sick of people bugging you for free advice then just ignore this (although I am sure you will do that anyway).
What an incredible life.
I’m fascinated with the backyard observatory.
Thank you for taking wonderful photos and sharing your passion, with the world. So inspired.