Galileo Moment

My Galileo Moment

  The year was 1973 and I was just a kid of 13.  My best friend at the time and I, were walking down the street he lived on, when we heard a voice from the dark. “Hey, want to see Saturn?” After looking around for a second and not seeing anyone, we continued to walk.  Again we heard the voice from the dark, “Hey guys, want to see Saturn?”  We looked around and finally saw the person who was yelling at us.  It turned out to be my friend’s neighbour and, he had a shiny new telescope set up on the side yard of his house.  We ran over to see what he was talking about, and I was amazed to see this beautiful white tube on a complicated looking mount.

  That was the first time I had seen an actual telescope.  It was so cool!  At the time it seemed so large, and I could not believe I was going to have the chance to look through it.  After talking to my friends neighbour for a second I got my chance.  I was instructed not to touch the scope, just look through the eyepiece, and I did.  “WOW”, there it was.  SATURN.  It looked like I could reach out and touch it.  That perfect little ball in the sky with the rings.  The rings seemed to be hovering around that ball perfectly.  I could not get that view out of my mind.  It had to be the coolest thing I had ever seen.

The years went by, and I had moved away from home.  Never really got the chance to buy a telescope for myself.  Working, raising a young family on a very tight budget, and not having any extra money to purchase one.  I finally got my chance a couple of years ago, when I was visiting my kids in Ontario.  I went into Toronto and bought my first brand new telescope.  It was a SkyWatcher 130mm reflector.   I set it up in the front yard of my kids house, and pointed it at Jupiter, the only object in the sky I new, besides the Moon.  “WOW” There it was.  The feeling I had back when I was 13 and viewed Saturn.  It was like I was taken back in time to that night I heard the voice in the dark.  I was hooked! 

Since then, I have purchased numerous telescopes, joined the SJAC and became a member of RASC.  Astronomy has become my most enjoyable hobby.

  I will never forget that night, I heard the voice in the dark, and had the chance to look through a telescope, and see one of the so many wonders that are out there.  That was my Galileo Moment!



Super Amateur Astrophotography!!!

 Having subscribed to many astronomy magazines, I find myself looking at the sections with astrophoto's taken by "Amateur Astronomers".  Most of these photo's are taken with multi thousand dollar scopes and cameras.  Although the photos are stunning to look at, most amateur astronomers, I'll bet, can't afford the equipment needed to take photos like these.  I’ll guarantee, most back yard stargazers don't have a Takahashi APO, an SBIG camera, an Astrophysics goto mount, electric focusers, guide scopes, and high priced filters needed to take these photographs.  The amateur astronomers I know have 6" to 8" reflectors on manual EQ mounts, or 8" to 12" DOBS. Most of which have a total cost for all of their equipment, well under $1000.00 dollars.  I call these people "Super Amateur Astronomers"

 I attended an astronomy club meeting, and when it came to the show and tell portion of the meeting, one of our members produced some photographs taken through a 150mm reflector, on a manual EQ mount, with a small digital camera.  The photos were of the moon, slightly out of focus with some vignetting around the edges.  The member was extremely excited to show the photo's to the rest of the club members.  Defiantly a "WOW" moment.  The attempt to squeeze a camera up to an eyepiece and hope to get a clear picture of an object in space.  To me, that is what amateur astrophotography is all about.  These are the people I label "Super Amateur Astrophotographers".  I'll bet there are more of these types of astronomers out there than we can count.  Not everyone can afford a CCD, a DSLR, or modified webcam to attach to their telescope.

 It would be nice to see photo's taken by "Super Amateur Astrophotographers" published once and a while, to show that everyone can enjoy astrophotography, not just those who can afford high end equipment.  I believe it would help boost the hopes of those backyard stargazers to continue to do what they enjoy so much.  Maybe even motivate them to upgrade.  Not all astrophotographers can take pictures like we see in the backs of magazines.