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Keep Looking Up!
For as long as I can remember, I've been in love with the night sky. I recall vividly the first time I ever looked through a telescope. I saw the Moon through the eyepiece of an old Tasco refractor. It literally took my breath away. While quite fuzzy because of the inexpensive optics, I saw craters and the shadows of the mountains. I was around six.
I also have fond memories of sitting in front of the television waiting for Neil Armstrong to come down off of the lunar lander. It seemed like an eternity, but when he finally emerged, I was forever changed. I knew I wanted to study astronomy, I wanted to go to the moon, I wanted to be an astronaut. I was seven.
The circumstances in my life didn't really allow me to express my interest in astronomy until I was in high school. There, I met a mentor who ran the school district planetarium. He had the really unique idea to allow students from the school district to work there for credit. My physics teacher at the time told me about the program and suggested that I apply for it.
I was accepted as one of the first students into the program, one other guy was there before me, and several joined in the months that followed. We were allowed full access to the planetarium equipment, including the projector, control console, and the myriad of special effects projectors surrounding the dome. We were given full reign to pursue whatever interested us, whether it was learning the night sky, designing and writing planetarium shows, designing and building special effects projectors, even giving the shows to the district classes that came there for field trips.
While at the planetarium I was in heaven, literally and figuratively. I learned more about not only astronomy - things like the constellations, mythology, the life cycles of stars, etc. - but I also learned a lot about public speaking, how to teach complex ideas, how to design a curriculum, and (perhaps most importantly) how to nurture the interest all people have about the universe and our place in it.
I became quite obsessed with telescopes, astronomy, and everything that came with it. Since those magical days at the planetarium, I have taught astronomy in public schools, bought a portable planetarium and ran a small business with it, got a physics degree, and I now spend every available night at my telescope wondering why we haven't journeyed further out into space.
This website is a labor of love. I decided to create it for no other reason than I wanted to write and bring my experiences to others. If you find it useful, I hope you'll link to it and perhaps subscribe to my RSS feed.