Twinkling and Heinlein
Thomas Wm. Hamilton
December 10, 2012
I first was attracted to the sky by an uncle pointing to what was probably Venus one evening when I was four years old. It inspired me to coerce family members to read about astronomy to me. I also learned to read by looking over their shoulders. Once I had a library card I read every astronomy book my local library offered. When these ran out, a friendly librarian suggested I might enjoy Robert Heinlein's book bold text Rocketship Galileo bold text. My fate was sealed. In college I studied astronomy, was hired to work on the Apollo Project after graduation, and since then have never looked back (or down). Decades of work in planetariums and 32 years of teaching astronomy, and I loved every minute. The only disappointment came on July 20, 1969. I hosted a big party for friends so we could watch the landing. But I really, and fully, expected that when Armstrong set foot on the Moon there would be an interruption in the broadcast, while an alien voice informed Earth we had just qualified for probationary membership in the Galactic Union. Sigh!
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.