|Clark University student Stephanie Fussell and I|
visually observing galaxies for her astronomy class
project - "Classifying Galaxy Types"
I would like to share part of an article I wrote back in 1987 when I was Secretary of the Cape Cod Astronomical Society for its monthly newsletter. Its titled "The Real Joy of Astronomy - Observing".
Interests in the night sky came about when man first looked up to notice a strange phenomena. This was called "Starlight". Astronomy is one of the oldest of sciences known. It was curiosity, wonder, observation and thought throughout the centuries that brought us to the current understanding of the universe. It was with the most valuable instrument that humans started learn the properties of heavenly bodies... The unaided eye.
Observing is really what amateur astronomy is all about. I can recall the exact day I became hooked on astronomy. It was a warm spring back in 1975 that allowed my best friend and I to ride our bikes after dinner until the sunset brought on twilight. There was one particular night that detoured our attention from the earth and put it into the sky. Both of us were pedaling as fast as we could to to beat the darkness that was quickly falling upon us to get home in time for dinner. As we turned down the last road before reaching our houses, suddenly there was a swift burst of light that caught the corner of my eye. My sense of curiosity forced me stop instantly. When I took a good look at the spot where I saw the light, I noticed that the light was no longer there. The only thing that was there was a newly constructed house. My first and only thought was that it had to be a light was left on in the house. Not being convinced, I slowly backed up and there it was... the bright light. To my astonishment, it wasn't a light bulb at all. In fact it was the waxing gibbous moon reflecting off the garage window.
|Sears and Roebuck Refractor |
and Celestron SCT Telescopes
It was visual observing that maintained a strong interest for myself in astronomy. In 1976 my family and I relocated to Cape Cod, MA. It was there I met Muir Evenden who's family had just moved into my development from Colorado. It was amazing that we discovered we both shared the same interest. As time went on, we both advanced our knowledge in astronomy in our own ways. While Muir used to read numerous books on the subject, I would enjoy viewing documentaries. However, there was one thing we always shared equally... Observing! Muir had his Celestron 8" SCT and I eventually acquired an Astroscan 4.45" wide-field reflector.
|M57 - "Ring Nebula" in Lyra|
Image by Emily & Allie - PCIS
It has been 27 years since I wrote this article for the CCAS Newsletter. It brought back a lot of fond memories of my observing adventures while transcribing to this blog post.
My point of posting this old article is to convey how visual observing can be just as enjoyable and productive as gathering imaging from a remote robotic telescope. Both practices go hand in hand.