From the time I was a little boy I can remember spending many nights laying on our trampoline staring into the night sky. I would look in amazement at how many different looking “things” there was to be seen. With each moment that passed more and more objects would appear that weren’t there to begin with (or didn’t seem to be) until the entire sky was covered in a display so magnificant that I would lay there for hours on end. I had no clue what I was looking at but it intrigued me nonetheless, and to this day, more times than not, I find myself looking upwards whenever I step outside in the evenings to either take out the trash or go for a run.
It wasn’t until I was in high school (1997 to be exact) that I got a taste of what I was really looking at all those years before. My Physics teacher had our class out to his house for us to look through telescopes. Now, I came from a class full of jocks (me being one of them) and none of them where very interested and most of them didn’t even show up. But me, I was secretly anticipating this evening more than the kick-off at one of our football games. I didn’t quite know what to expect but I was interested in finding out.
Finally the night came and we made our way outside our small city to my teachers house where awaiting us were 3 telescopes of different sizes. Two were on tripods and one was sitting on a small table and was much smaller than the other two. One telescope belonged to our teacher and the other two belonged to students in my class. They would line there telescopes up with an object and we would take turns looking through the lens and discussing what we saw. What I saw through those lenses blew me away! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I had no idea that what I was looking at as a little boy and appeared to be nothing more than a pin dot of light looked so amazing through the lens of a telescope. The Horsehead Nebula, the storm on Jupiter, the rings of Saturn. Needless to say, I WAS HOOKED!
Since that night I have never looked at the heavens above the same. Remembering what I saw and knowing how much more there was to explore and that feeling, that need to see it for myself has never left me, just ask my wife :). For the last 6-7 years of our marriage when she would ask me what I wanted or needed for my birthday or Christmas I would simply answer, a telescope. She would roll her eyes and say, “A telescope! Why do you want a telescope? You don’t Neeeeeed a telescope. I’m not buying you a telescope.” That’s fine I thought. Now, I pull down some decent chedder and I could go buy me a telescope at any time but I wanted her to buy it for me. And finally, this year, 7 years of saying the same thing each time she asked. I got, you guessed it, a telescope. But, I took it back and ordered me one a little better. (she was ok with it)
So, here I am with a telescope and a blog and not really knowing what to do with either one of them. I started this blog to share my experiences of learning about telescopes, and becoming an amature astronomer. I hope to use this medium to learn from those of you out there that know what they are talking about and maybe someone out there like me, who is starting out, can learn something from this blog.
Here’s to many clear nights.