(This article originally was written April 26, 2009. Not very good grammar but I will post it anyway)
So tell me about your first telescope stories :)
On my back porch stands my new Orion SkyQuest 12 telescope "Ambrosia " named after my best buddie who I really missed yesterday,but I'm grateful to have known her. If it wasn't for Ambrosia I would not be the astronomer I am. I still have to calibrate it so I took my older one outside.
Tonight was the first night it has been mild enough to enjoy observing comfortably. As I stood there with my good ol 8 inch dobsonian "Story " looking up at the starry sky on the eve of using my new scope I am enjoying remembering the adventures we had exploring the night sky in my backyard these past 9 years. Yes of course i'll still use it. Tonight i'm amazed to be looking up at the very very same constellation patterned sky that I first explored with it, from Arcturus which is the first orange star I looked at thru Story to the gamma ray discovery in the sickle of Leo I accidently made.
My favorite is the night I was looking at Saturn and to the left in the eye piece a huge orange blinking probe was slowly creeping by. I still wonder what that was traveling East to West, so close! Really fun to look at & follow on it's journey. It's so vivid in my mind still. I'll never forget Mars visit in 2003. Two A.M visit's with the red planet were so fascinating. Someone told me you can get so close to it in the scope you can smell the soil & I remember feeling soil & the smell as I looked close at it and visioned it smelling like sand.
First time I saw a satellite my brother & I found it & we were out there at 1 am yelling what is that? we should call NASA ! We found something! He said it's a ufo, then I remembered I read in my new astronomy book it's a satellite. Jupiter was the first planet I looked at. My brother said oh there's a planet and 4 moons! I said whaa? and he said no really, look ! I can still see the view I was shocked at when taking my first peek. One moon was to the left of Jupiter & 3 were lined up on the right of the planet.
Also I remember the amazing feeling when finally finding the Andromeda galaxy, a year later after not finding it I was online one night & noticed an astronomy chat room to actually talk to someone about finding it ,after 2 hours I closed my computer then realized I wrote out 6 pages of how to find basically all the different objects. Next day I looked them up & that night it was 6 hours of me & Story flying thru the night sky on an adventure, following the directions as to finding galaxies, nebula's and double stars.
All the many hours Story & I spent one night exploring the milky way band across my sky from my backyard one night after reading an article of Ken Hewitt-White's in sky news during that day. I put all my maps , books etc away and just explored from south to north,wherever the milky way ran, I followed.Really amazing night of exploration. I learned a lot about using my optics that night too. Not to mention the first night I pointed it to the Moon & got it all set up and went okay dad have a peek & he got down to the ground and looked up from the bottom! Ack too funny ! hee hee! Then when he did look he backed away slowly and so f'n too dramatic he said ' ooh that's so close it's scary ! ' Eyes popped wide open so hilarious.
Before he retired he used to come home from shift work around 1 am to find me on the patio perusing somewhere out there and he liked take a peek into Story,the double cluster between Cassiopeia & Persues was always his favorite,he still talks about it. One night I was moving thru pegasus when a meteor went thru the eye piece view, YOUCH that was bright ! Tonight as I put my hand on Story's cover I saw a satellite go by across the big dipper I remembered when I first followed one. Old radio shows I collect & 40's and short-wave radio good stuff we shared among the night air won't be forgotten either. My old short-wave radio is an ol nite sky buddy too. Amazing programs from around the world was broadcast on there.
Story got it's name when one night in the yahoo beyond planet earth chatroom when a chat guy named Kevin said I remind him of Story Musgrave because I love to share my enthusiasm of exploring space in your backyard with boundless enthusiasm. Especially teaching how mazing it is. Along with the few I have, Story has a NASA award of it's own on it's base. A NASA sticker from my Uncle Richard. Rightfully deserving too because my things & discoveries & near discoveries have all been found thru the scope. When people heard I was saving up for Ambrosia they mentioned selling Story.
That was followed by my gasps of horror ! Sell Story? After all we've been thru? Then I get a but it's just wood & aluminum, again another gasp. Then I gave them the old ' first car ' theory and then they got it. My parents got a new little car (Aveo great room for scopes guys! ) and he still brings up ' ol betsy ' haa! So as I enjoy the first mild night of the next stargazing season with Story I got teary eyed because it has been a long winter and i've missed my amazing nite sky life in my backyard,but, as I stand there teary eyed because i'm so happy to be with the stars again I'm touched to look down and see my observing partner dog Spirit has come to sit leaning against me, he has nite sky stories too. He's actually my brother's dog but chose to live with me because he likes to be with other dogs, luckily my brother doesn't mind, he sees him alot.
He saw some meteors before. I looked up at the sky again to see a meteor shoot thru Bootes and I yelled, Oh very funny universe !! But thanks universe, my sister has taught me about being grateful, well tonight I am reminiscing with my gratefulness stories & experiences in my night sky backyard I have with Story.Our exploring we've done is PRICELESS!
Even though it ended with a 'only in the movies' moment ! EEKS!