March 8, 2012
My Astronomy And Observing Life
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 things..star-maps, 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.