John Unkovich is an amateur astronomer with a technical background in radio, television, and the motion picture industries. He caught the astronomy bug at age 12, acquiring his first telescope that a classmate won on a game show.
But it was later in life when a friend who was an eclipse chaser, brought a 5” Schmidt-Cassegrain to work one evening that John's interest was reignited. He purchased two telescopes in the next week and was forever hooked on astronomy and astrophotography.
The 2003 Opposition of Mars. Image capture by John Unkovich and Randy Cindrich.
Upon attending his first major star party in 1992, the Riverside Telescope Maker's Conference (RTMC Astronomy Expo), John was encouraged to buy a larger telescope and became inspired to devote himself to educational public outreach in astronomy. He started off by sharing his knowledge and views through his telescopes of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Impacts of Jupiter.
Eventually he founded the Columbia Astronomers. Established in 2011, the astronomy club features monthly meetings with public lectures and share their knowledge to assist members with their telescopes. Their outreach programs are well known in Southern California with many events held annually at the Columbia Memorial Space Center. One of the hallmarks is their participation in the City of STEM Science Festival which is held at various venues throughout Los Angeles, including the Space Center.
Awards and Recognition
As an accomplished astrophotographer, John Unkovich won the "Best Image" in the Transit/Eclipse category and "Best of Show" at the 2013 RTMC Astronomy Expo for his Transit of Venus image. In 2018 he did it again for his image of the 2017 Great American Eclipse.
Activities and Events