Back to All Events

Michael Barber: Answering the Big Questions — SBIG Then and Now

A product review in the most recent issue of Sky & Telescope Magazine begins with the statement "No name is better known in the world of amateur CCD imaging than SBIG, short for Santa Barbara Instrument Group."

What is not so well known is how the threat of US/USSR nuclear test ban treaty violations and an "Ogre" were crucial to SBIG's beginnings. To fill in some of these interesting details, one of SBIG's co-founders, Michael Barber, will present a talk about SBIG's origins, some milestones in its history and the latest developments in its product line for amateur astronomers, including some demonstration and prototype items.

Michael Barber - Vice President and a co-founder of SBIG. Avid amateur astronomer. Although his previous professional experience was in a different field, from the early days of the group's Gamma Ray Burst research, he has been an active contributor to the design discussions and decision making process for the development of the SBIG products. His ideas to produce the ST-10, the ST-2000 and large format cameras with internal and remote guiding helped start the ball rolling on these popular models

Santa Barbara Instrument Group designs and manufactures thermoelectrically cooled, low-noise, CCD cameras and accessories for scientific and astronomic applications.

  • Started as part time hobby
  • Formally incorporated 1989 with 4 other partners
  • I was a Director for the first 10 years, and a Director and Vice President from 1999 to Present
  • By mid-1990's we became a leading supplier of astronomical instruments world-wide with dealers in over 20 countries
  • Our instruments are used in professional observatories, educational institutions and private observatories world-wide
  • Received several patents for our inventions: Track & Accumulate, Self-Guiding, Differential Guiding
  • Founding sponsors of the annual Advanced Imaging Conference held in Santa Clara.

PUBLICATIONS - The Perseus Flasher and Satellite Glints, Astrophysical Journal (320:398-404, 1987 September 1).

AWARDS - Royal Commendation for services in support of scientific education projects of His Majesty King Rama IX of Thailand, 2007

Mike Barber, a co-founder of the Santa Barbara Instrument Group and a lawyer for about 20 years, can obviously feel at home in two separate worlds. Sometimes, he even does it literally. "My wife, Nui, and I currently have a home in Santa Barbara and a home in Thailand, where she was born," he says. "We go back and forth about once each year."

Barber was born in Berkeley, California, and, despite extensive travel through Asia, he's lived in the state all his life. And most of that time he's loved astronomy, thanks to a friend of his grandfather. "One night [the friend] brought over a telescope he made in his garage," Barber says. "I remember seeing the homemade mirror and looking though the eyepiece at Orion and Saturn." Barber's father also played a part in cultivating this interest. "My dad used to take us to [San Francisco's] Morrison Planetarium," Barber says. "It was a real thrill for me to deliver a talk on CCD imaging in that same planetarium many years later!"