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Hidden In Plain Sight: Monitoring The Skies From A Basement In Saline

Lisa Barry

In our ongoing series highlighting people and places in our community that are "Hidden in Plain Sight,"  89.1 WEMU'S Lisa Barry takes you on a visit to the home of a Saline man. Dr. Brian Ottum operates a New Mexico desert telescope, by remote control, from his basement, taking pictures of astronomical phenomena without ever leaving the comfort of his home. 

Watch as Dr. Ottum opens the roof to his New Mexico telescope observatory from the basement of his home in Saline:

Dr. Brian Ottum is a marketing research data scientist who has a passion for astronomy.

He lives on two-and-a-half acres in Saline in a house designed by his wife Mona in a more rural area to give him a better view of the night sky.

Credit Lisa Barry
Some of the pictures taken by Dr. Ottum.

Known as the "Weird Astronomy Dad" after visiting his kids' classrooms frequently when they were younger, Ottum loves to share his celestial pictures and his knowledge of what's "out there."

When asked about what is out there, Ottum said he believes it is statistically likely there are other life forms in the universe, but they are so far away we may never speak to them.

Credit Lisa Barry

We also visited his backyard where he recently dismantled what he believes was the largest, privately-owned domed observatory in Michigan.

Ottum enjoys taking action shots of things in space and will show and sell some of his pictures of comets and star clusters at the upcoming Astronomy on the Beach event, which will take place on September 29 and 30 at Island Lake State Recreation Area in Brighton from 6 PM to midnight, rain or shine.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at

Lisa Barry was a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU.
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