Joe Montani's Home Page

( Asteroids, Planetary- and Radio-Astronomy Publications, Images, Philosophy, Zen Practice, Woodturning/Woodworking, & how to contact Joe Montani )

Joe Montani under clear Sonoran Desert skies (at Spring planting-time), with tomato sprout.

Photo: Carol Neese

The author, as a sprout.

Photo: AP (Anonymous Photographer)

Contact information:

(1.) Hard-copy (surface/air) Mail:

Joseph L. Montani
Senior Research Specialist
Lunar and Planetary Lab
Kuiper Space Sciences Building
1629 E. University Blvd.
The University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ (USA) 85721-0092

(2.) Phone:

(520) 621-6956 (voice, and voicemail)

(3.) FAX:

(520) 621-4933 (FAX)

(4.) Email:


Current Projects:

Astronomical Research Interests:

Philosophical Research Interests (Western):

Philosophical and Religious Interests (Eastern/Western):





Please Click for list: 1980-2010

An asteroid has been named after Joe ... click below.

Click for PICTURES of asteroid (7656) Joemontani and TEXT
of Official IAU citation. (added 04 Mar. 1999)

Asteroid (7656) JoeMontani Please Click for the TEXT of the official IAU Citation regarding the Feb. 1999 naming of asteroid no. 7656 as "Joemontani" by my colleagues. Many thanks to the Spacewatch Project members for bestowing this honor upon me. --Joe (Added 01 Mar. 1999)

NEW! Minor Planets that Joe has named. CLICK for list! (Updated 2010 Jul 28)

Several items on formal Zen practice in Tucson ... click below.

Also see section on "Ch'an," further down the page.

TAKING the PRECEPTS: Joe's personalizations of the Three Refuges, The Three Pure Precepts, and the Ten Grave Precepts, which he recited before the assembly and the Roshi at the Jukai ceremony after the April 10-15 1999 Zen Sesshin in Tucson Arizona at the zendo of the Zen Desert Sangha. Please Click for full text... . (Added 26 May 1999)

PICTURES taken at the Jukai ceremony. Click!

Other Relevant Links:

Link to Spacewatch Project Homepage (Many more telescopic images of Asteroids, Comets, and spacecraft. Plus, images of our Telescopes.)

Link to Lunar and Planetary Lab Homepage (at The University of Arizona, Tucson)

Montani, ...Asteroid Hunter.... <---<< Clickable! Joe was honored as "Asteroid Hunter of the Month" for December, 1997 on Victor Noto's Web site "Bigrock," a site for Asteroid Hazard information. (Click link to view a locally-archived copy of that posting, saved on Joe's site).
Link to images of Kyosaku (Kyosaku, or keisaku, are sticks used in the zendo, when requested, for striking the acupressure point in the neck and shoulder area; Joe has made these sticks in Tucson [Australian Lacewood, Pine, Mesquite, misc. desert woods ).
Link to images of Rakusu Rings (These rakusu rings were made in Tucson by Joe, of lathe-turned wood of various suitable types, for a rakusu ring which will last a lifetime [Australian Lacewood, Cocobolo, Aleppo Pine] ).
Link to further images of Rakusu Rings (These rakusu rings were made in Tucson by Joe, of lathe-turned wood of various suitable types, for a rakusu ring which will last a lifetime).

(-- Last update to page: 2012 Sep 03 --Joe)

The "gallery" below, a learner's exercise, is largely undisciplined and somewhat sprawling to date; it may take on a new structure if there's time to learn or pirate more HTML, ...and put it into practice.

The author depicted in a stereo pair. Use crossed-eyes technique, or other technique. "Get the views to fuse; See me in 3-d" (bad poetry, I know). --JLM

The fine animal "Socks", once kept in the White House by the First Family. Send them an admiring note about him, as I did, and you will receive this postcard of thanks by return mail in about 90 days (Cards are reportedly addressed and mailed by high school student volunteers; Cat-fanciers, they must be). [Note added early 2001: Socks has moved away, and I think lives with the former White House Press Secretary. See the sites devoted to Socks on the Web for further info.] [Note added a bit later in 2001: The First Family has also moved away; I am not sure what animals live there now]

Many amateur astronomers are taking up the search for supernovae in galaxies beyond the Milky Way. This is an area where real contributions to research can be made, by identifying supernovae early in their brightening cycle, and alerting the world. A pitfall of this work is the possibility of confusing an asteroid in our solar system passing over the galaxy as a supernova. Above series taken with the Spacewatch 0.9 m telescope on April 24, 1998, from Kitt Peak, while I was searching for new asteroids. The galaxy is the spiral NGC 4517 in Virgo. The snapshots are cut from the much larger Spacewatch scan strips, and there is about 30 minutes of time between each of the three exposures. The asteroid is a newly discovered mainbelt object, magnitude 19.2, moving north and west. Exposure times are 150 seconds on the CCD.

One notable time while observing at the Spacewatch telescope, an asteroid passed near the image of one of the many galaxies in this galaxy cluster, and while I looked at that cluster so far away with the nearby solar system object superimposed upon it, I got a sense of vertigo for a moment. We're probably looking to 500 million lightyears to see the galaxies here, while the asteroid is probably less than only 100 million MILES away. Something about this enormous scale difference made my head spin. Astronomers are not immune to this.

This is a series of three images I took on Oct. 23, 1997 with the Spacewatch 36-inch telescope on Kitt Peak, 8 days after the Cassini spacecraft was launched on its mission to Saturn. The spacecraft shows as a star-like point at the center of each of the 3 snapshots cut from the much larger Spacewatch scan-images. Red arrows have been added to guide the viewer's eye. Stellar magnitude of Cassini is 20.0; it was 2.814 million km distant, over 7 times the distance of the Moon. Each exposure was for 2 1/2 minutes on the Spacewatch CCD; time runs from left to right. The spacecraft was moving so fast among the background stars that it could have been mistaken for a near-earth asteroid: it was moving over 0.61 degrees per day projected on the sky (Main-Belt asteroids at opposition move only 0.25 deg/day). Thanks to the excellent finding-ephemeris from George Lewis of JPL, Cassini was easy to find, and was, moreover, right where it was supposed to be. Go, Cassini!

The NEAR Spacecraft sun-glint visible from Tucson AZ on Jan 23 1998, about 06:39 UTC. ASA 400 Kodak color film and 135 mm lens at f/2.8, taken from my back yard, among the stars of Perseus. A rare opportunity to see a spacecraft in interplanetary space with the naked eye, and photograph it very easily. The duration of the "glint," however, was very brief: 2 seconds! A specular reflection from the craft's solar panels. NEAR is visible here as a trail in the lower right quadrant that mimics a short meteor trail. Distance: 20,000 miles (1/12 the distance to the moon!).


Ch'an (Zen) is an ancient path of spiritual and physical practice and clarification whereby we may regain (by uncovering) our original human inheritance. The entire course of its progress is dedicated to and aimed at awakening (one's own), and is meant to universalize and make available Shakyamuni Buddha's own awakening. That this is possible is, I feel, the single most underappreciated wonder of the past 2500 years.

Zen came from India in the time of the Buddha (about 500 B.C.); went to China where it developed greatly and underwent a Golden Age; went to Japan, where it was preserved in the form received and also developed further under the Japanese genius, influencing everything in that country to this day; and went everywhere else beginning in the 20th century, largely due to the popularizing influence of the essays of Prof. D.T. Suzuki, and later to his courses taught at Columbia University in the 1950s. Roshi Philip Kapleau's book The Three Pillars of Zen came out in the mid 1960's and revealed how the theoretical and philosophical points written about by Suzuki are actually put into practice, and contained reports written by Westerners, as well as transcripts of interviews between a Japanese Zen- master and male and female Western students. Kapleau's book gave many Westerners confidence that they could actually and finally practice Zen. It was the first practical book in the English language on Zen practice. All that was then necessary was teachers .

The time was then ripe for pioneering teachers from Japan and China to make their home in the West and begin to introduce people to the actual practice of Ch'an, with its characteristic methods and its emphasis on practicing together as a group, or "sangha." Many fine Western teachers are now heir to these teachers' lineages, and a vital Western zen is developing on American, Canadian, Australian, European, South American, and African soil, and in other places besides. Ch'an is called Zen in Japan, and this is the name most of the world knows it by.

Zen practice may be destined to decline for the time being in the Far East, but is now being adopted in the West by greater numbers of people.


My Shih-fu, Ch'an Master Sheng-yen (1930-2009) at the time of the second large Buddhist Conference he organized and hosted in Taiwan.

The First Ancestor, or Patriarch of Ch'an, or Zen: Bodhidharma; here depicted in a watercolor by Tim Jundo Williams, c. 1997. Bodhidharma's strong practice was legendary. To avoid the effects of drowsiness on his meditation, he is reputed to have discarded his eyelids. Where they fell to the ground, tea plants sprang up. After Bodhidharma brought Dhyana (Ch'an) to China from India, tea was subsequently used by Ch'an monastics to give them stamina in their long spells of "sitting" (meditation) practice; and then, Ch'an spread to Japan, and tea went with it; both developed in a big way.
Painting appears thanks to generous permission, via Jane Lago (Click painting for large version). Jane and Tim have postcards available of this and three other of Tim's original paintings, with proceeds going to their sangha's temple building-fund.
Link to contact Tim Jundo Williams:

An Ivy League school in the middle of New York City: my undergraduate Alma Mater (of over 40 years ago). The world's greatest university, all personal bias aside: the best place to attend college, and one of the best places to live imaginable and realizable (New York City). This recent scene depicts College Walk, at 116th Street, looking west to Broadway and over the Hudson River to the Palisades of the New Jersey side of the river, in evening twilight at Holiday time.

Ever feel like this?

Dr. Sally Love is past director of the Insect Zoo at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History.

A forward-looking stamp series issued by the United States two years before the third millenium opened.

Star Trek fans visiting will recognize the symbol of the Federation.

A product of Joe's wood-turning and woodworking: a view of the Mallet with which to strike the "Han,"or signalling board. Commissioned by and used at the Zen center in Tucson. American Cherry wood head, Ash handle; Feb. 1998. [The pine han shown here, a seat-part from a bench, donated by Indiana Nelson, has since been broken on sesshin in May, 1998, by Joe, as jikijitsu. It has been replaced at the current ZDS zendo by a Mahogany han brought from Amarillo by Pat Hawk Roshi. The mallet is still in use.]

Another view of the Mallet, with Han below it.

American Cherry wood Drinking Goblet on the wood lathe; early stage; Feb. 1998.

Another view of Cherry Goblet. Commissioned by Sarah Duffy, for her use at the Renaissance Festival in Arizona, 1998.

Shaker "Weaver's" chair. Rock Maple and cotton chair tape. I'll use this for sitting at the lathe sometimes; a good height, it has a low back allowing freedom of movement for the turner. A stool would work better perhaps, but the back adds a great look, and sometimes you want to rest the spine a bit: If T'ai Chi hasn't prepared me for STANDING at the lathe, then perhaps Zen practice has prepared me for SITTING there; I do BOTH. Patterned after a design c. 1830 from the New Lebanon (NY) Shaker community; March 1998.

Cat gallery will start here one day soon!

Bike gallery may start here one day soon!

A favorite Japanese lacquerware plate design.

The true Poet-Laureate of the United States, Allen Ginsberg (Jun 3 1926 - Apr 5 1997), in two views. Fellow New Jerseyan and Columbia-man. Three nights after he died, I discovered my first comet; three nights after that, I discovered my second. Whimsically speaking (and Allen would like it that way), I know Allen "sent" them to me. Thank you, Allen! Rest in Peace. Om, Shanti. Bodhi, Svaha! "Frog jumps in: PLOP!" (--Basho)

Comet C/2000 A1 (Montani). I took these images at the 0.9-m Spacewatch telescope on Feb. 21.3, 2001. The comet's tail and coma are more developed than at discovery 13 months earlier. Yet, this little tadpole still looks quite anemic because it is very distant from the sun (about 10 AU, which is beyond Saturn). This animation of the three Spacewatch "passes" shows the motion of the comet over one hour of time. To the left of the slow-moving, distant comet, a moving main-belt asteroid can also be seen, closer to sun and earth, and so moving much faster than the comet.

The asteroid (3070) Aitken which I photographed with the Spacewatch 36-inch telescope on Kitt Peak on Oct. 11, 1999. The asteroid is named for the famous American astronomer Robert Grant Aitken, great double star observer, past Director of Lick Observatory, and Grandfather of Robert Aitken Roshi, the Zen teacher and writer. The animated GIF file shows the motion of the asteroid among the stars.

Sometimes the moving asteroid is much brighter than the stars in the surrounding field of view. And sometimes, it's the asteroid, and not the stars, that bears the diffraction spikes! This can at first glance be a bit confusing to the observer, who expects the stars to be the very bright objects in the field. But the earliest-discovered asteroids are quite large and hence intrinsically bright. The object here, (19) Fortuna, was only the 19th asteroid discovered, in 1852, by J.R. Hind, of London (100 years before my birth). See how bright it is!: fully saturated on the Spacewatch 0.9-m telescope CCD camera, and sporting bright diffraction spikes from the spider-support.

...and at base, a bass Clef (F-Clef).

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