Grant caught the Astronomy staff’s attention with a thoughtful essay about all the different aspects of the science and hobby he finds fascinating, including how he can link his observations to new information. “[When] I started to explore the brightest of deep-sky objects,” the seventh grader writes, “the Orion Nebula and Pleiades star cluster were my firsts. I used to only know them as stars and dust clouds that were glorious, but now I also recognize them as rich areas of stellar birth. The science of astronomy is one in its own. It is never limited and always seen.”
Grant first became interested in astronomy in first grade upon using a small plastic toy telescope. His first target? The Moon, of course. His interest progressed in third grade when his school science curriculum first introduced astronomy as a topic. “Ever since then, I have been checking out all the books from my school library on astronomy,” Grant says. And as indicated by his essay, learning the science only made Grant want to explore the night sky more. So two years ago, he asked for a “real” telescope for a combination Christmas/birthday gift. Since then, he’s been observing, sketching, and even imaging a bit. According to his mother, Beth Amos, Grant is now even sharing his passion with classmates with a class star party, and she has a feeling NEAF will result in new equipment.
But more than 110 vendors selling asto-gear isn’t the only thing Grant has to look forward to at NEAF, which Astronomy magazine sponsors. The April 20–21 event in Suffern, New York, also features a great lineup of speakers, including astronomer Mike Brown from Caltech, former astronaut John Grunsfeld, Matt Greenhouse of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, Astronomy Editor David J. Eicher, and Astronomy columnist Bob Berman. Astronomy workshops, daily solar observing, STARLAB planetarium shows, classes for beginners getting into astronomy, and astronomy events for kids will round out the schedule.
“NEAF is just the type of event a young amateur astronomer like Grant should attend,” says Eicher. “Astronomy is excited to provide him with this opportunity, and I look forward to spending time with him at the expo.”