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Explore Alliance Ambassadors - Carlos Hernandez M.D.

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As an 11 year old amateur astronomer living in southeastern Virginia Carlos Hernandez would turn his 2.4-inch (60mm) Tasco refractor towards the heavens and wonder what those celestial bodies would look like if we were able to visit them in a spaceship.

In 1971 the planet Mars made a close approach (opposition: when the Earth, Mars, and the Sun are in a straight line and Earth and Mars are at their closest distance to each other in their respective orbits) to the Earth. The Earth and Mars were then separated by a distance of approximately 35 million miles (56 million km) and had an apparent diameter of 24.9 arc-seconds. This was an especially close (or Perihelic) opposition of Mars. Mars was a brilliant red beacon in the sky and disk was visible in his small 60mm refractor that showed a few dark markings (called albedo features that represent exposed volcanic bedrock over the Martian surface) as well. Carlos's mind raced with images of the Edgar Rice Burroughs character John Carter exploring the Martian surface as I peered through the eyepiece.

He later obtained a Celestron 8-inch (20-cm) f/10 Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector and a 12.5-inch (32-cm) f/6.2 Newtonian reflector that provided more aperture and resolution that showed more detail over Mars, the other planets, and deep sky objects. Carlos currently owns a custom 9-inch (23-cm) f/13.5 Maksutov-Cassegrain reflector that provides excellent imagery of all celestial objects. I have also had the pleasure to use Explore Scientific telescopes (especially their outstanding refractors), eyepieces, and accessories for the past few years. I currently practice Medicine in the field of Pediatrics but the heavens have always called me to explore the Moon, planets, and stars.


I have contributed my planetary observations to worldwide organizations including The Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO, United States), British Astronomical Association (BAA, Great Britain), Oriental Astronomical Association (OAA, Japan), and many other excellent planetary amateur astronomer groups over many decades. This has allowed me to share my observations and experience with others as we explore our planetary neighbors together.


I have been primarily a visual observer of the Moon, planets, and deep sky objects since the beginning and I have produced drawings and paintings (traditional and digital) of what I have observed in the eyepiece. I have had the fortune to have had my planetary observations published in notable magazines including Sky and Telescope and Astronomy magazine as well as the journals of ALPO, BAA, and the OAA. The field of astrophotography has produced impressive results that compete with major observatories not long ago but the pencil and paper (or graphics tablet nowadays) calls upon me to record what I observe in the eyepiece field.


My other interest is art and I have taken up producing space art through my Macintosh computer using a graphics tablet that has been published online and by NASA as well. I strive to bring the exotic locations of the Moon, planets, exoplanets and stars to the public in order to better understand our beautiful universe.

Awards and Recognition
For her efforts in astronomy outreach and service to her community, Abigail Bollenbach was recognized in 2018 with the Astronomical League’s Horkheimer/Smith Youth Service Award for outstanding participation in her club and astronomy outreach.
On April 23rd 2019, Abigail was selected as one of 24 young students world-wide to be recognized as part of The Mars Generation’s second class of 24 Under 24 Leaders and Innovators in STEAM and Space Award winners. The group is comprised of young people from around the world who are breaking barriers in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) fields and bringing the sciences to the public through multidisciplinary interests.
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