From the April 2018 issue

Gifts to the Future

Amateur astronomy can change lives.
By | Published: April 26, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023

You amateur astronomers out there are an odd lot. (I get to say that because I started out as an amateur myself.) Think about it. You dump tons of time and money into telescopes, cameras, and the like. Every chance you get, you head off into the hinterland where you sit up all night, freezing your keister, and stare into an eyepiece to catch a glance of some ghostly apparition. Your family thinks you are nuts. Aren’t the spectacular pictures on Google Images enough?

Of course they aren’t! Astronomy is a passion, and that Messier collection means something. I understand that. But where did your passion come from? What got you hooked? I’m going to hazard a guess that it didn’t have much to do with a classroom sage on a stage. Don’t get me wrong, classrooms are important. After a quarter-century of teaching, at least I hope they are. But as a student, my own attitudes and interests had more impact on what I got out of a class than anything a teacher or professor said. Experiences are what matter.

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