Leonardo Orazi

Leo is the award-winning astrophotographer and professional software developer behind Voyager and Viking.  Rowland took a few minutes away from building the website to have a discussion with Leo about his love of astrophotography and what drove him to develop Voyager with such a focus on reliability. 

RA:  Leo, tell us how you got interested in astrophotograhy and how long you have done it?

Leo:  I started when I was seven years old looking at Space 1999 science fiction.  After this my mother gave me an Atlas of the Universe where i saw my first astrophotography from the famous telescope at Palomar Observatory.   

I forgot about that passion for years, until I found an association for amateur astrophotographers in my town in 2007.  I decided to start doing astrophotography and apply my engineering training to it.
RA:  That’s impressive!  Getting even one APOD is considered the pinnacle of amateur astrophotography achievement.  Where can we see more of your astro photos?
Leo: You can see them from my personal astrophotography website, www.starkeeper.it.  Click on the image to the right to visit it.
RA:  With so many astro imaging programs available, why did you decide to write Voyager?

 Leo:  I looked at what was available to use before deciding to write anything.  I needed some features that were not included in any existing software, so I wrote email after email asking people if they would add those features, but no one would do them.

I decided to write Voyager for astrophotographers like me who need to  travel to take their images.  We need assurance that after spending the time and money to travel, we wouldn’t lose their night’s work due to one of the many problems that can happen with our complex hobby.  And I realized that same reliability was important whether you travel or not!

RA:  What makes Voyager so reliable?
Leo:  Every action in Voyager is done with a separate process that cannot crash the core of Voyager.  So Voyager keeps running even if an external program or piece of hardware fails to complete an action or returns an unexpected result.  

This is the same approach taken for the real-time OS systems I build in my professional work.  These systems cannot stop running without serious consequences, so the software is written to prevent that.  

RA:  What kind of failures can it tolerate?
Leo:  Practically all … the only failures that can bring it down are failures of a third party driver running in the OS Kernel space that can crash the OS!  No program can survive that.
Voyager Non Stop Architecture
RA:  What advice would you give a new Voyager user?
Leo:  Think of Voyager as another astrophotographer doing work for you.  Voyager is your personal, tireless observatory assistant.
Voyager was born to be strong and get the best data.  It is not slow, but if there is a design choice to be made between speed – cutting corners – and reliability, your assistant always chooses reliability.  He wants to make sure you have great data when your observing run is over!
The real automation in astrophotography is not the front-end GUI, but the automata inside, the parts that perform the actions needed to keep your gear running and getting data all night long.  This is where Voyager leads the pack.
RA:  What gear do you use now when you have time for AP?
Leo:  It’s a long list!  Click on the image to the right to see it on my personal astrophotography website, www.starkeeper.it
RA:  What’s most important in your life outside of AP?
 Leo:  Family .. family … and family

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