March 8, 2012

My Astronomy And Observing Life

Many have asked how I got started wow that was amazing to work on. Opening up my first books I still have and going through my first ever observations have been an amazing trip. I am lucky to still have the drive and passion for observing, nothing more awe some and thrilling to do is too listen to my old radio shows and oldies under the night sky.

What year did you start out ? When did you get your first telescope?

1999 my mom and I would bring our two labs out to the bathroom and she would say " who wants to see the stars?" and our two dogs would run to the back door and we would look up. After some time I got wondering what the moon looked like in a telescope, then that christmas my mom wanted to buy me a telescope.

My parents  bought me a 5 inch newtonian reflector,Terence Dickinson's Night Watch book and Bob Berman's  Secrets of the Night Sky: Most Amazing Things in the Universe You Can See with the Naked Eye. Then I became so hooked on Messier object hunting. And It was the time my mom decided to buy a computer for the family so I didn't have to trek all the way to the library to see how to observe and it was not very convenient. I remember it was november of 1999 because crappy ol christmas was coming and we had xmas stuff on the desktop.

The telescope was blue and the name on it was Vista  'Omcrom Vista 1811S'. It is not in production today. The telescope store was called Universal Science and the owner named Robin was a guy who actually was an observer so my parents got lucky with a good purchase! My mom still remembers the squirrel in the view when Robin was showing them how it can magnify objects.

I was not very serious about getting a telescope and yet on the morning I opened it up I was stunned at what was in the box. I clearly remember sitting there looking at the star clusters and nebulas in the Night Watch book and thinking "wow this is what I can find out there?", I was so amazed.

How did you get good at observing?

I wanted to see everything and realized it is more tricky too see things in a telescope. Little did I know about how to hunt down deep sky objects and one night I was frustrated and ended up in an astronomy chat room on Yahoo in 2002. That night a guy who is now one of my good friends on the internet took the time to ask me what I was looking for, what scope I had and what I tried. Three hours later I was well informed and wrote out 5 pages of info.

That is what I needed, another observers help. I started chatting with others and well 10 years later I am still in contact and still chat with everyone on saturday nights. I still remember in the fall of 2003 I was researching how to be a sky watcher and got really good at it because I enjoyed it so much. I loved knowing what was going on and was taught how to notice when something seems different.

Is there a special time you treasure that really got you loving observing?

Yes the summer of 2003. It was a time where I was tenaciously scouring the sky, I wanted to find everything in my scope's eyepiece. My soul would get lost through the ionosphere that was carrying the  signals that my shortwave radio waves were carrying. listening to broadcasts from now right into broadcasts of the past, one night I was tuning the dial and broadcasts were being replayed of sputniks launch. it was a new fascinating world to me, the night time. and I was happy to be a part of it. I would sit on my lawn swing for hours after eleven pm  watching the skies and listening to the sounds the ionosphere was emitting through my shortwave. What an amazing box! From all around the world! I will be adding a photo of my old radio here, so check back!

I found a book called "Seeing In The Dark" by Timothy Ferris  and everything I was thinking and feeling,shortwave ionosphere and the night world, everything was in his words, common bonds that are unspoken because conveying them is so soul felt unspeakable with clarity of words. Everything he said I was living, thinking feeling. the night time. It was such an amazing new world to me, I'd step out of my back porch, drop my, notebook, pens, snacks, water and books and accessories. Turn on my radio, listen to the 50's and doo wp music, even earlier singers like Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Cloooney while I was observing. Then when I was ready for my snack after a long time at the scope hunting down deep sky objects I'd get on my lawn swing, grab a blanket and switch my radio to short-wave mode and get lost in the broadcasts and stare at the sky for a while.

I really loved that radio and still have it. Everything became so simple, a car is a cool thing.. cars.. wow. Life became so simple and so amazing to me, the more I spent time at that 8 inch dobsonian at night the more simpler and amazing the world became to me. It was a blissful time. In his book Timothy Ferris explains how he would enjoy the sounds of Earth's music at night while at the scope. He explained how the ionosphere carried the signals and what a difference in how he saw the world in the daytime. Just like how I was experiencing it, Fifties music like I was, as a teenager he would be out all night with his radio and telescope.  Nights are prime for radio listening, add the night sky connection we have and it is an amazing experience at night time.

Egyptian constellations lore was always on around 2am from Egypt  on saturday nights, they were amazing stories to listen too at the scope.  Alexandria, Egypt. FM RADIO. 88.7 was the station actually. In the daytime I would study my star-maps and when I would listen to my 50's music while perusing the maps  and I would go to the awe struck place at night.

As of writing this, in  March 2012,   I am still enjoying sky watching. It is amazing to be connected too all Who love the night sky online. So how did I get the name NiteSkyGirl? My friend Orly gave it too me in 2009 because even though I am in my forties (46  at this moment wow)  My heart belongs to  backyard observing and I am a nite-sky-girl right down into my soul.

 And I am one that still explores space in my backyard with my 12 inch scope and I always will, you'll find me out there, with my oldies and still sky watching and observing the deep sky too my hearts content.

I have another great post about my love of observing called Great Stories Under The stars, click here.

 Exploring the night sky is the most amazing life I have ever lived.


Anonymous said...

That is beautiful!

Kyle said...

Wow I love your history, so soul touching, made me sit here and be thankful of my own observing life.

your a gift to the amateur community and how you open your kindness so us amateurs can email you with observing help, telescope help and guiding us to be the best observers we can be.

Bless you!

Vern said...

heart touching, love your radio stories, fascinating to read! I too bless you!

Mark said...

Omg your amazing NiteSkyGirl.

Lou said...

After reading that, your name suits you even more.

Anonymous said...

Awesome life! Awesome person!

Nate said...

Okay wow that felt like a book I never wanted to end. Cool about the ozone and radio waves in Ferris's book!

I listen to the shortwave under the night sky too!

Steve W said...

re:I was thinking and feeling,shortwave ionosphere and the night world, everything was in his words, common bonds that are unspoken because conveying them is so soul felt unspeakable with clarity of words.

OMG! WOOOOW! I felt overcome with amazement when I read those words. I just ordered his book and a short wave from Amazon!

WOW! your fascinating!

Atani said...

I am one of the astronomy/observing chatters Niteskygirl met in 2002 and we are still online buds today. Still chat on saturday nights with the origional and and new observers we've met and She has ..
Where do I start she is so fantastik!

She still..STILL.. has the spark and drive for observing and it is awesome to still see that!!

Love ya bud! Glad to have you as a friend still .. always be your bud of MANY online!

Niteskygirl is Ellie from contact and Lily McKee from Asteroid all rolled in one!
(both are movies)


Pete said...

re:I also think of my mom telling everyone "My daughter is an astronaut now!". Mom it's astronomer.

Hillarious! I burst out laughing!!!!!!!!

Eddy G said...

Same here Pete!

This is so amazing, I am a 67 year old observer and you made me tear up wow amazing!
Marvelous with words, woah!

Pembrokeshire Astronomer said...

Hello NSG, beautiful writing...your enthusiasm really is jumping out of the page... :0)

I really like your connection with the shortwave and the night skies.

I remember as a teenager listening to shortwave broadcasts in the back garden, whilst absorbing the night skies through my mighty 40mm Tasco refractor....

You've inspired my to get the shortwave back into my observing sessions.... :0)

Clear Skies and happy shortwave listening... :0)

Pembs Astronomer...

John Kramer said...

Such an inspirational story! Great stuff as usual.