Billions and Billions of Stars
November 26, 2013
Carl Sagan's Cosmos TV series had such a profound effect on me with his easy style and great information. However, I probably wouldn't have watched it if it weren't for something that happened to me when I was young. My interest in space was piqued as a small child when we went to the Griffith Park Observatory. On the wall was a giant backlit photo of the Andromeda Galaxy m31. This totally blew me away. In 1958 my parents bought me a Gilbert telescope for Christmas complete with rickety stand and small star map. My dream was to see that galaxy though my scope. Many nights in my front yard viewing the spot on my star map brought no results in the light polluted LA area. Sadly, neither was an astronomy mentor available to explain this to me. My quest was forgotten for other things. Update to 1995. My 8 year old daughter was taking astronomy in grade school and asked me if I owned a telescope. Of course, into the storage and out comes my Gilbert 2.5" reflector telescope. We look at a bright object that had some weird dots near it. Well, I told her we needed to get another scope since this one appears bad. (The dots were Jupiters moons). Off to the store we went the next week end and bought a used 8" Dob. Still no Andromeda. So I joined our local astronomy club and the world was opened to me and my daughter. We went to a star party at 7000' with dark skies when it happened. A little boys dream came true. Andromeda. Not through a scope but with my naked eye, then a scope and binoculars. I felt my life was complete. Next thing you know I have a 10" SCT. Then a friend of mine and I built twin 22" Obsession style reflectors in my garage (thanks Kriege). Many happy nights of observing galaxy clusters and nebulae. Since then, we moved and I joined another club. My goal is to teach people astronomy and be the mentor to others that was missing in my life as a child. With new equipment, we can bring deep space objects to light polluted areas. This is my vision.
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.