Thursday, July 03, 2008

Remembering my first time

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, asks "What was the first [celestial] object you ever saw through telescope" and in leaving a comment, I realized that it was pulling up some memories that strayed from the original question. So, what the heck. Here are a series of my "firsts".

I am pretty sure my very first was the moon, but what I remember more is the telescope. It was a WWII-era US Navy 16x spyglass. Nearly 3 feet long, wrapped in black cord, heavy as all get out and no tripod. As a 98lb weakling, I could hold it up to the sky for only a minute at a time before I gave up and just pointed out constellations.

Beyond of the moon, my first look through a proper telescope was in a summer class on astronomy with Dave Olsen at Merced Community College. He set it all up so we could see the sun safely during a period of sunspot activity. He also offered community astronomy viewings where I saw saturn for the first time.

Despite wanting a telescope for myself, my parents always balked at the cost. By the time I had my own paper route, I had turned back toward the earth and computers. (Actually, it was because I wanted a computer that I got a paper route. I'm not just a geek, I am a nerd!)

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