Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Astronomical Beginning

My beginning in my interest in astronomy are truly difficult to track down. I remember as a kid some time in the early 1990s, I was riding in my mom's greenish white 4 door car. We were driving into our newly built garage at night. I remember looking up at the moon and being inspired by the astronauts that walked on it. At the time I was somewhere between the age of 6-10. It seems I always had an interest in space.

I remember my parents got a c-band satellite some years later after that experience I had in that greenish white car. I was fascinated by the fact that with few punches of a button the huge 10 foot dish would move across the sky and get information from things in space. Some how space seemed close as if right there in my backyard.

My dad is what you'd call a computer guy.. growing up in the 1980s, I remember playing with his Kaypro computers and trs80s. My parents were also one of the first internet shoppers they bought a washer and dryer from the Prodigy message board, back in the days of yellow and black monitors and handset phone modems. I grew up in a house full of technology.

It was with that technology that I gained access to things the fueled my interest in space. I remember watching NASA TV on the c-band and then going out side when the track showed it coming in over San Angelo. One time I remember there was a night landing of the space shuttle and it looked like it would come right over San Angelo so I watched and then ran outside on that night the moon was high in the sky. Then out of the west I saw a glowing fireball with the most awesome moon lit com trail that I've ever seen. I will never forget that most beautiful sight.

Speaking of beautiful sights I remember seeing many of spectacular astronomical events from the sidewalk in my backyard. I remember seeing the spectacular Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997, watching various lunar elapses and meteor showers. Some nights I'd just lay on my back on my parent's patio and stare into space.

In fifth of sixth grade I got a Meade Polaris 60mm Refractor and saw the moon and stars...but sadly it wasn't a quality instrument. The .0965" eyepieces were plastic and each point of light had a tail on it, everything looked like comets. In the day time I'd use a projection method with a binoculars to observe sunspots.

Sometime around junior high I hooked up with the San Angelo Astronomical Association
and there I gained access to come nice scopes. As it turns out a neighbor, Ted, whom lived a block away and a 16" Meade Starfinder Dobsonian this was the scope that I really learned on. I began to use a SkyAtlas 2000 and the telrad on that scope to starhop around. Occasionally I was lent a Celestron 6" dob that I used in my backyard. The 14 Year Old Me

Ted had a friend named Clyde Bone who was a telescope maker. Clyde was a stange man who drove a campervan around town. As strange as he was he was a great telescope maker. He made a 20inch Merenne Nasmyth telecope that I was granted access to. So my first real experiences doing astronomy was a junior high kid using a 6" Dobsonian, 16" Dobsonian and 20" Merenne Nasmyth telescope...and in some of the darkest skys Texas has to offer. If you want more info on Clyde's scope there was a write up in Sky and Telescope, volume 98, number 3, page 130. 09/1999 and "Amateur Astronomy" magazine #4 for Winter 1994, pp.45-47

I got my first job ever was a construction site working for Ted's business. Ted gave me my first job because I wanted to earn money for a dobsonian. That really didn't happen until 2007 when I moved to San Antonio.