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Share Your Story • Justin Rennilson • December 6, 2012

4th grade teacher

4th grade teacher

My interest started by my 4th grade elementary teacher. I was born in Berkeley California the home of the University of California in 1926. I was not quite 10 years old and the class was taken to the Leuschner Observatory on the campus to look through the 6 inch refractor (built by the famous American optician Alvan Clark) at the moon. That inspired my love with astronomy and space. I read all the books I could find, took the Astronomy Merit Badge in Boy Scouts from a UC Professor (made me work hard for that badge) and built my first telescope with a long cardboard tube and a wooden mount. I can remember being ridiculed by my fellow pupils in school when I suggested that man would some day step on the moon. I might have been one of the first members of the nerd generation. Little did I think that I would be able to participate in the most significant historical events of mankind, that of his liberation of earthbound bondage to roam the vastness of space. To be apart of that effort has been the hallmark of my life. Man must explore to live. To constantly ask questions about how did the universe come to be, to meet new challenges and above all to dream, is why we are here. Science is the search for knowledge and we use tools like physics and mathematics to understand our universe. My most personal connection was the first image of a constellation which is familiar to all earthborn residents, Orion, but taken from our nearest body, the moon. It looks just like the earth observation because the moon is so close to us compared to the vast distances of space. Another was the first solar eclipse where not the moon blocked the sun but the earth did. We saw this from our moon. When I studied Astronomy, our earthbound observations limited us in what we could see. We developed hypotheses to explain what we saw and numbered the moons of the planets we imaged. Many of our ideas are today almost humorous, because of our lack of greater image resolutions. As each new image was captured by our space probes and our human endeavors we had to rethink these concepts. And so it is in Science, new images bring new ideas and awaken new minds.

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