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Share Your Story • Richard Oldenburg • August 6, 2013

My Epiphany for Astronomy

I am a 73 year old retired policeman who was an avid fisherman in my younger days. In the late 70s I had occasion to fish the White River outside of Kenora in Canada. That is where I observed the first "Dark Sky" I had ever seen because I am a "City Boy" who lives near the light pollution in the Midwest near Chicago. I was completely AWESTRUCK by that sky. I saw EVERYTHING near Earth that an astronomer could ever hope to see: the arm of the Milky Way; the Aurora Borealis; satellites in orbit; the craters on the moon clearly and a sky SO full of stars in all directions that I could cover 50+ of them with the end of my thumb held at arms length no matter where I turned.

I sat outside our little cabin from dusk 'til after midnight just soaking up that skyview. Forgive the pun, but I had become "hooked" for life. Add to that the sound of wolves baying in the distance; elk "bugling"; and black bears swimming toward the island cabin from the opposite bank of the river. I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. Though I've tried, sadly I have never been able to repeat that experience, but am so thankful that I got to see it at least once before I go belly up! In the early 80s I read about Carl Sagan and The Planetary Society and knew I had to become a member. I have been a member since 1983 - 30 years. Thank you so much for keeping it all alive for me!

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