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Explore Scientific Dealer - OPT
  • Explore Scientific at OPT
  • ES Eclipse Gear at OPT
  • Galileoscope at OPT
  • Unistellar at OPT

    Donald H. Penning - 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron and Flying Tiger

    Donald H. Penning established "Oceanside Photographic Center"

    The genesis of OPT starts with Donald H. Penning who had returned to the USA to the town of Oceanside, California in 1945 with a hero's welcome after serving in the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the Army Air Corps and with the Flying Tigers, flying over a hundred combat missions.

    Penning settled down, married and raised a family, and opened a small camera shop in 1947 on what was then known as Hill Street (now the Pacific Coast Highway) to carry out his passion for photography. 

    Craig Weatherwax OPT

    By 1974, Craig Weatherwax purchased the store from Don, carrying the original name of the company and keeping Don Penning involved as the in-house camera repairman until Don retired. 

    Craig expanded the store to a location right across the street to a former portrait studio. The new location had a larger showroom, bigger darkrooms (for photo finishing) and a large studio. It was there in 1980 that telescopes were added to the camera assortment, and by 1985, the business changed the name to Oceanside Photo & Telescope, or better known as OPT. 


    OPT's flagship showroom was in Oceanside until 2018. Now the operations are in Carlsbad, CA that are optimized for greater shipper volume.

    By 2007 to 2018, OPT's flagship retail showroom invited customers from around the world while at the same time serving ever-growing e-commerce demand. By the end of 2017, it became clear that OPT had to evolve again to better serve its dot-com clientele with a larger and more capable warehouse facility. 

    Dustin Gibson and Ginny St. Laurence

    In 2016 Weatherwax decided to retire and sold OPT to two astrophotographers who had been working at the company for nearly a year. Dustin Gibson and Ginny St. Laurence are the proud owners of OPT who continue the expansion and operate this award-winning business today.