Kevin's Astronomy Story:
Well I was bitten by the astronomy bug in 1986 when
Halley's comet was big news. I bought a $50.00 refractor (glass lens) telescope at a department store hoping to see the comet of a lifetime. This telescope was the shakiest piece of junk, but I did manage to
see Halley's comet. It looked like a fuzzy cotton ball that was surrounded by stars. But then I started playing around and pointed it at the planets. I could see the cloud bands on Jupiter, and the rings of
Saturn. Even though I had a poor image, I could still tell that they were planets.
Then I picked up The Perterson Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, a book on astronomy at the bookstore (when you really went
to a bookstore). It was packed full of photos, star charts, loads of information, and last but not least telescope makers. Real telescopes, not department store junk. It listed telescopes that had
mirrors, great for looking at objects like galaxies and nebulas. The Newtonian reflector style telescope with a ten inch diameter mirror was under $300.00. I thought if I get bored with this I'm not out
thousands of dollars. So I went for it and I still have it today. Now after thirth-five plus years I have many telescopes (Yeah, with always a wish list of more), more accessories than I can play with
at one time. Most of all, I have spent hundreds of hours looking at and imaging the night sky, all because of one comet and one book.
With computers, CCD digital imagers, and robotic telescope mounts for
astronomy being reachable in price. Highly detailed digital images can be obtained with a telescope by amateur astronomers today. So I made the jump to CCD astronomy many years ago and now have the
capability to image galaxies million of light years away and I also have the capability to collect scientific data. This is a great time for astronomy. I have shared my telescopes and knowledge of the sky
with thousands of people for nine years up on Palomar Mountain, California. As part of a United States Forest Service program called Explore the Stars
, amateur astronomers like myself setup our telescopes and share the wonders of the night sky with campers and visitors.
Since 2003 I've
spent most of my time imaging from our driveway. As of 2019, we sold our home in California and are currently exploring New Mexico and the rest of the country in out 5th wheel travel trailer, I have a
visual/science telescope and a solar telsescope. All of the other equipment was put in storage until we find our next dream property under dark skies. But having clear dark night has always been a treat for
us Now we can do this on the road all over the country. This brings the fun of looking through the eyepiece, brushing up on our starparty skills and meeting new people again. An Astronomy theme for a
website can be a great way to share the hobby and hopefully create more interest in the hobby of amateur astronomy.