Astronomy

I really Need to Get Back to This!

AR_Astronomy_Journal_2003-6.jpgFascinaton with the night sky long pre-dated my infatuation with radio. When I was quite small, my aunt Shirley - she of the transistor radio - taught me my first constellation. We were standing in the parking lot of the apartment block where we lived at the time. This was on a frigid, late December evening in the early 1960's. We had all just returned from our annual drive around town to look at all of the holiday lights and my parents and brother had already gone inside to get warm. But my aunt and I stayed for a few minutes, standing in the crunchy snow, to look at the heavens. Unusually for that place and that time of year, the sky was completely clear. The stars were hard and brilliant, as if they felt they had to outshine the blue sparks in the scintillating snow. Aunt Shirley took my hand, raised my arm, and guided my pointed finger as it traced the outline of the most magnificent constellation of them all: Orion the Hunter. It is still my favorite, although the "Summer Triangle" marked by Vega, Deneb, and Altair in Lyra, Cygnus, and Aquila is a close second.

Not too many years after this, my parents bought me a pair of 7 x 35 binoculars from Sears that I still have. Later I bought by own, much larger pair, a nice 10 x 50 instrument from Celestron. I've never had much luck with telescopes and find binoculars both more portable and easier to use. With the Celestron I started an astronomical journal that I need to resume as soon as I can.

For me, astronomy is an aesthetic and philosophical experience rather than science. I am lousy at math and will never make any contribution to human scientific knowledge. But I can gaze up at the night sky with the same wonder and reverence that human beings have felt for so long that we no longer remember the first time eyes turned to the heavens and really saw them. They night sky is both beautiful and terrifying. It puts us in our place.

I'm a proud member of the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society. You'll thank yourself for visiting its Web page.