I’ve been fascinated with space since I was a little kid. Growing up in the Sixties and early Seventies, I have very strong memories of the Apollo program, in particular. I remember when the Eagle landed on the moon and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on another world.
When we lived in Pittsburgh, once a year or so our folks would take us to the Buhl Planetarium, which is part of the Carnegie Science Center. I would sit there completely awed over the images shown and always wanted more. For years, one of my favorite possessions was a photo of a full moon snapped by the observatory. It hung on my wall as a reminder to keep looking up.
Some time in the mid-Seventies, we got a telescope. We were in West Hartford now, and even though we were in the suburbs of a city, you could see all sorts of beautiful things if you knew where to look. I remember the first time I spied through the lens the beautiful rings of Saturn. I didn’t have any maps of the sky at my disposal – I just pointed at every bright thing up there and looked. This is how I saw Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, as well. The Pleiades were also fun to look at, but those, at least, I knew where to find.
And the moon. Always the moon. I remember watching it through a lunar eclipse once in the late Seventies and being thrilled at what I was seeing. Even though I only took the telescope out a couple of times per year, it was worth it.
This love of space has stuck with me my entire life. I’m always looking up at night, seeing what’s up there. Last year (I think it was last year…) we saw the ISS soar over head one night, and the wonder of it all came flooding back. Now that there are rocket launches down the coast off Virginia, we actually saw one arc into the sky from our deck. The shuttle launch I saw from the front yard of my folks when they lived in Florida was another great moment.
My browser homepage for the web has been APOD - the Astronomy Picture of the Day – since at least since 1997 or so. Doesn’t matter what browser I’m using, that’s what the first tab set to use. I even collect those images that I love and save them for my wallpaper in Windows. At home I’m probably over 400 images, while work is currently around 50. People are always oohing and ahhing over my desktop.
One of my dreams is to eventually get another telescope. With the advent of sky mapping programs for phones and tablets, it’ll make it easier to find interesting things to view. That excites me greatly. For now, though, it’s APOD every day, at the very least, to keep the excitement alive, and as always, I’ll be looking up.