Meg and John Menke shown on a
        visit to Palomar Mountain Observatory MenkeScientific

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About us

MenkeScientific is the website started in 2002 by John and Meg Menke of Barnesville, Maryland.   John has been an amateur astronomer since his early teen years and has had an observatory in Barnesville for visual and astro-photography since 1974.  In 1991, we decided to create a business together: we would manufacture observatory domes.  Our business, Technical Innovations, Inc., manufactured fiberglass observatory domes and dome automation equipment for amateur and professional astronomers throughout the world. 

During those dome manufacturing years, we also wrote two popular booklets that have been used by thousands of astronomers around the world:  “At Home in a Dome” and “Remote Control Astronomy Handbook.”  (Both booklets are available free on the Internet.  Click here for more information.)

Early in 2002, a successor owner took over our manufacturing business, leaving Meg and John more time to work one-on-one with astronomers.  (Technical Innovations continues to offer the domes we designed; you can contact them here.)  After several years operating Menke Scientific, Ltd. as a consulting practice, we have now shifted our activities soley to astronomical research and a range of family, travel, volunteer and community projects. 

We now use MenkeScientific as a place for sharing John's continuing  astronomy research.  You can explore his work by clicking on links at the top of the page.

Our Backgrounds

John is a physicist whose professional career (before dome manufacturing) focused on electronics and instrumentation.  He spent fifteen years working on nuclear accelerator projects, including the one at the National Bureau of Standards. Later, he worked at both local and national levels on environmental policy and programs. John’s teaching experience includes courses in electronics for technicians and astronomy at the community college level. 
John is an active astronomy researcher, working in observational research and in development of new observing equipment and methods.  Results are published on this web site (see links above), in journals such as the Minor Planet Bulletin and at meetings of pro-am groups such the Society for Astronomical Science

Prior to Technical Innovations, Meg was a public program manager who directed advocacy organizations for children and later headed a local government services center and then a land use policy office for a major county government in Maryland.  After the sale of our dome manufacturing business, she returned to community activities such as chairing our town's Planning Commission and joining the boards of various community and philanthropic organizations. 

Observatories                                  Three domes of
                            Starlight Farm Observaotyr

Starlight Farm Observatory is a four-acre field just south of our house that holds two PD-10 domes, one with a Celestron 11, the other housing an 18-inch Newtonian of John's design.  The third dome at Starlight Farm Observatory is an HD-6 that houses a Meade 12"RCT.  This dome is owned by our friend and colleague, David Yaney.