My First Telescope
November 26, 2013
I will never forget a cold winter night in 1988, when my father centered a Tasco telescope on a bright object in the sky above. This was the first time I had ever looked through a telescope. I was ten years old, and my interest in astronomy was already keen. My imagination was drunk with what the future might hold for space travel and humanity. Though I’m older and wiser now, this particular viewing has remained with me ever since. While I can’t recall if the object was a star or planet (my father just selected something at random without a chart) I will never forget the flaring effect cast upon it by our atmosphere. The object seemed alive as a result, bulging and writhing up there in that endless void. How I wish I had an image to share with the rest of you: that faint yellow sphere, set against a backdrop of depthless black, morphing within the narrow light spectrum visible through the wide eye of a ten-year old. Morphing into my dreams and memories, like a wormhole bridging that night and this one. Though memories fade and nostalgia paints everything in a golden sheen, that image still inspires me. In that moment I realized I really was a part of the universe. Even now, decades later, that childlike wonder illuminates my being—just like that object lit up a small sector of the sky years ago.
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.