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When You Were A Kid Astronomer?

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#26 nytecam

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 03:40 AM

My first optics were a pair of discarded spectacles which, when I propped them on my bedroom window cill, gave a sharp image of the sun on a card about 10mm diam complete with spots. ;) Soon after mounted lens on a length of wood plus my pocket magnifier as an eyepiece. Saw lots of stuff like craters on moon and Jupiters moons ;)
That was in '47 as a teenager and I've stuck with the hobby ever since - see my links below :rainbow:

#27 GlennLeDrew

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 02:34 AM

My interest was first sparked back in '72-3 while in Grade 5, when we studied from a series of small books on various aspects of science, some of which had little chapters on some astronomical subject. Back then I thought the Pleiades was the Little Dipper, and Orion's Belt, Sword, Rigel and beta Eridani comprised the Great Bear!

Christmas '75. I received a Tasco 40mm tabletop terrestrial refractor. It offered an erect image with an apallingly small FOV, and had click-stops on the eyepiece barrel/draw tube for magnifications of 25-50X, in 5X increments. About all I looked at was the Moon, as I was an Apollo nut around then. (And I didn't realize just what other neat sights such a humble instrument could offer.)

Then something magical happened. One cold evening in early '76, I noticed three stars rising in the ENE, almost perfectly aligned vertically. After looking at the top two (Castor and Pollux, I later learned) at lowest power, I found nothing of note. But the third definitely looked *bigger*, and kind of squashed. So I clicked out the eyepiece to highest power, tweaked the focus, and lo and behold! Saturn! I ran yelling into the house and tried to get anyone to come for a peek at this marvel. Not a stirring. Oh well, back out I went until I could stand the cold no longer.

Almost immediately I scoured our town's only library for books on astronomy. The most useful volume I quickly glommed onto was the original (1964) edition of A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, by Donald Menzel, published by Houghton Mifflin. I then got down to learning the constellations, the Greek alphabet, how to locate the other planets and ferret out the brighter deep sky objects.

Within a few months I was tracking down M13, M27 and M57 through my east-facing bedroom window, scope tube resting on the sill. Unsteady and dim views to be sure, but they were my first direct glimpses of such distant, alien denizens of deep space. I was hooked!

Several months later I bought my own first significant purchase of my life, with money I'd earned delivering newspapers. A 7x50 binocular, the brand name of which was 'Crescent.' Should have been called 'Excrescence', now that I look back, but it was a marvelous step up in clarity of view nonetheless. I was astonished to discover that in a great many instances I could see deep sky objects *much* more brightly in the binos than with the higher powered 'scope--in no time at all I eclipsed the 'bag' acquired with the Tasco.

But it was not until 1983, after my first posting to an Arctic weather station, that I upgraded to a 'significant' aperture telescope. And it was a 4.25" Edmund Astroscan, portability being an important aspect for a weather observer who could be re-posted at any moment.

Now that I've gotten well past the childhood chapter of my astronomical adventure, I'll stop here.

#28 mdalton

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 10:51 PM

Christmas 1969, just after Apollo 11 and 12 landings. I just turned 12, and I got a Jason Empire 60mm refractor (that I still have) Did a lot of moon watching and hoping to see astronauts or maybe the landers sitting on the moon. I also saw Jupiter and Saturn for the first time. After a while the telescope went back in the box and spent most of it's time in the back of the closet. I did get it out for big celestial events. Got reinterested in the hobby last February and decided it was time for a bigger scope. I bought a 130mm dob and wow what a difference. So, I decided to buy another, bigger scope. A found a XT10i on Craigslist for a good price and bought it. So, I am either a newb or a seasoned veteran with 43 years experience.

#29 desertstars

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 11:35 PM

I received a succession of small, usually table top tripod, telescopes as gifts up until my early teens, when I purchased a 60mm refractor for myself. The experience had a profound impact on my life, one that continues to this day, and led to the publication of my first book.

#30 Tony Flanders

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 05:44 AM

Curiously, although I spent summers at the same country home where I'm now writing this (very recently equipped with high-speed interne!), I learned my astronomy in the same place as most of my other outdoor skills -- in New York City.

My earliest astronomical memory is looking out my bedroom window and seeing Orion floating above the Empire State Building. No doubt my father had pointed Orion out to me sometime earlier, but that's before I can remember.

I also remember going up to the roof of our building to watch a lunar eclipse.

My first views of the Andromeda Galaxy and Beehive Cluster were with the 7x35 binoculars that my father gave me when I was a teenager.

Telescopes came much later. My parents bought me a 4-inch reflector from Edmund Scientific, but I never really figured out how to use it. So I didn't start telescopic astronomy until I was in my forties.

#31 droid

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 06:48 AM

Hmm late 60s/ early 1970s, I didnt own a telescope, but my dad had a pair of binoculars, if I had t guess today Id guess 7x35, and they were way off limits, lol.
So I borrowed them, a lot , I had no idea what to look for or what I was looking at, but scanning the night from the farm hooked me.
So I kept telling my parents I wanted a telescope for christmas, mom leaked to me they had gotten a scope, christmas morning I ripped it open, and was crushed, it one of those plastic toys with a single lens, and two draw tubes, you literally couldnt find anything in it.
Made a decent weapon when my brother got under my skin though, lol.
Dad must have known I was not overly happy with the plastic scope, so he snuck around and built me one from scrap, a refractor, roughly 4 inches in diameter, and to my surprise spit out rainbow images, literally.
I gave up, I found that lens a few years ago, it was a freznal lens.
My first real scope was in the late 70s , bought from Hills dept store.A 4.5 inch reflector, that was a downright good scope,and I had many years of use with it.
I honestly dont know what happened to that scope, my dad decided it was time for me to stand on my own two feet, and I left it there in the garage.
It was 15 years down the road before I got a better scope, early 90s and I bought a Orion 8 inch dob

as fr missing the " good ole days" not so much, my only good tv memprys was the original star trek. We had like 6 channels, a black and white tv, and if the president was on tv, you were out of luck, lol.
Hi-tech was Andy turn the antenna, and in the winter that was not so much fun.

#32 droid

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 06:50 AM

Tom; Mr. Olcott's Skies , was a great read, I loved the book. And it would fit right in with this thread, lol.

:bow: :bow:

#33 Meadeball

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:11 AM

RUSSL:

Good God, Man! You got it! Not only do I concur 100% on your RV-6 tube odor comment, but I'll add one -- the sound of those two big aluminum knobs spinning down onto their shafts on the tube rings -- they're the SOUND of astronomy!

(My tale follows.)

Meade

#34 rick-SeMI

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:14 AM

As a kid my buddies and I used to 'camp out' in each others back yard.
Most time without the comfort of a tent and I can remember seeing the milky way with it's thousands of stars.
That was around 1956. The game back then was for us to see who saw the most shooting stars for the night :)
A few years later, in High School I belonged to the J.E.T.S. club and I helped one of the members polish a mirror for a 6 inch newtonian reflector and
even looked at Jupiter, the moon and a few other things after it was completed, but never had a real desire to get a telescope of my own.
Instead I went with amateur radio in 1958.
I caught the astronomy bug in January 2011 :]

#35 MawkHawk

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:28 AM

My first scope was a plastic table-top alt/az refractor randomly given to me by Santa when I was about 8. Next I got a KMart Focal 60mm spotting scope. Then finally, when I was 13, for XMas a "real" scope, a blue/green JCPenny EQ 60mm refractor. What a beauty. I used that piece of art for 4 years while I saved up for the ultimate scope, a Dynascope RV-6 with a tracking motor. Heaven. Most reflectors were steel or aluminum pier mounted EQs, which weighed a ton (think Parks current line-up).

Back then, there were no object locating computers or go to scopes. There were no laptops with Stellarium. You had to learn the sky with charts and book and magazines. You had to be able to find stuff yourself.

I grew up just a couple miles from where I live now. In the 60s/70s we'd lay out in the backyard on a blanket at night and stare up at the sky. We could clearly see the Milky Way and an occasional spacecraft of some sort race overhead. Now I can only ever see the brightest stars and planets from my yard.

Almost forgot: Fond Memory. It was winter around 73/74 and really, really cold. I was observing with my JCPenny and a neighbor kid for quite a while. I went to turn a flexible slo-mo and, not realizing that it was frozen, snapped it right off the mount! Now that's cold. My buddy had this amazing glue with which we glued it back together.

EDIT: Oh yeah, the RV-6 tube smell was heaven. God, I loved that smell. Funny thing is, I had that scope for 30 years and the smell never faded away (geez, I wonder what that stuff was...)

#36 azure1961p

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:48 AM

I started when I was 13 and my folks were supportive if not amazed that I had a hard time getting up for school but not at 3am for astronomy. My pal at the time also got a scope after messing with mine. Too I started an astronomy club that survived one outtting LOL. Simpler times.

A testament to the sheer expanse and progressive trends of the pursuits of amateur astronomy is that its still fresh today and so I still haven't seen or done.

My first scope was a 40mm refractor... not too bad actually...it did faintly resolve two belts on Jupiter with regularity.

#37 Skooter

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 09:03 AM

Here's my old spotting scope.

Attached Files



#38 tag1260

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:26 AM

I was about 10 years old (1970) and got a Tasco 11R reflector. Used it for quite a while as is. Found it in my dad's attic about 15 years ago and the mirrors were unbelievably perfect condition. So I brought it home and built a small dob mount for it and changed the focuser to a 1.25" and bought some eyepieces. I just recently picked up a 12" scope to replace her but she don't have to worry as she's not going anywhere. Had her too long to let someone else have her.

Mainly looked at the moon when I was a kid. Like others, always thought if I looked hard and long enough, I would eventually see the lunar lander sitting there. :crazy:

#39 csrlice12

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:57 AM

Yes, the Cold War. At ten, I imagined a "commie" riding the Sputnik with bombs in hand ready to drop on the U.S. It truly was a frightening time with all the "duck and cover" propaganda telling us we could survive a nuclear attack. I remember doing these "excersises" in school. Imagine, surviving a nuclear attack by pulling a blanket over your head while at a picnic!

When kids today ask me if we could survive a nuclear attack and how to do it, I tell them it's easy. Just go to the roof of the tallest building in town, turn your back towards the nearest city and bend over forwards, placing your head between your legs and proceed to kiss your but goodbye :dabomb: :roflmao: :rofl5:


Remember the "Duck and Cover" drills in elementary school? I do...NOW, years later, I wanna go to the top of the mountain, fire one up (it's CO, its legal); sit back and watch...cause you're right...kiss it goodbye. Hopefully, mankind will come to it's senses before that happens....

#40 Bigstar

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:09 AM

Well technically i'm no longer a kid. But one day at a garage sale i saw a bushnell 4.5 newton scope with a mount. I always wanted a telescope. But never brought one with raising a family and work the idea got lost in the shuffle. So ibrought this one for $25.
Got it home and set it up and started star gazing. I was blown away by what was out there. I remember looking at jupiter and its moons.
4 years later and i've moved up to a meade 8 sct and a starsplitter 16 dob. I have more time now and am still amazed at my time spent atbth eyepiece.
I am now 60 and feel like a kid having found a new passion in life that i would of missed if not for a garage sale

#41 MawkHawk

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:28 AM

Duck and cover...hahaha. I remember that there was a duck and cover song too. They taught us to duck under our desks in order to survive the exploding hydrogen bombs. They also told us to cover ourselves with wet newspapers...hahaha (Newspapers were paper documents that you could purchase and they had somewhat current news and information printed on them. They brought them right to your house daily or weekly...)

#42 csa/montana

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:33 AM

As a young child in the 40's; my mom took us camping. We had no tents, simply used blankets on the ground. When it was bedtime, we'd be on our backs looking up at the beautiful, extremely dark skies, & point out this or that; not having a clue what we were looking at. I had no idea then, that scopes were even available!

I'm a late bloomer, only getting the telescope bug, when someone visited me in 2005, & brought along a 12" dob. One look thru that, had me hooked for life! I immediately ordered a Hardin 8" dob, and have never had one regret!

#43 desertstars

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 06:57 PM

Tom; Mr. Olcott's Skies , was a great read, I loved the book. And it would fit right in with this thread, lol.

:bow: :bow:



Very glad you liked it! :cool:

#44 roscoe

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 07:12 PM

When I was a kid, my Dad worked for one of those old-time factories that, every Christmas, gave each employee a turkey, and threw a party for all the employee kids (and their parents) They rented a hall, had a chorus/choir with a soloist or two, sang a bunch of seasonal songs and all, and at the end, lined the boys and girls up by age, and gave each kid an age-appropriate gift, normally something practical or scientific. Well, when I was perhaps 11, the boy-gift was Gilbert 3" reflectors. Now, this was all pretty amazing, because there were perhaps 500 kids, all of whom got something every year, they probably gave away 50 scopes that year!
Anyhow, it being a less-than-perfect scope on a less-than-perfect mount (way less than perfect) I managed to get the moon in sight pretty easily, Jupiter for a fleeting moment as it drifted through, and even once Saturn. Can't say as I was hooked, though. A neighbor kid, who was fortunate to grow up in a family that was 'comfortable', liked looking at the Moon in mine enough that he asked for one for his birthday....his parents bought him a 60mm Unitron..... sad thing is, he looked through it a few times, lost interest, stuck it in their basement, and soon took it apart so he could fry ants with the objective lens. Had I had an ounce of sense, I would have swapped him a BIG magnifying glass for that scope!
The Gilbert soured me on reflector scopes (I still don't own one) and not long after, I bought a decent spotting scope, which worked way better as a lunar/planetary scope. I was in my 30's when I got my first real scope. I still have, and use, the spotter.
Perhaps the coolest thing I saw as a kid was a bolide that was Kriptonite green, and plainly visible in broad daylight, fly clear across the sky. It's the only daytime one I've ever seen.

Russ

#45 bherv

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:15 PM

I was fascinated with space in the early 70's. Star Trek was my favorite show. When I was 10 in 1975 my father brought home a telescope from work. I remember seeing the moon through it and was amazed at seeing all the craters. I observed my first lunar eclipse in November that year. I bought some books through the scholastic book club at school to learn more about the sky. I purchased a 3" reflector from Sears in the late 70's and a Jason 313 60mm refractor in the early 80's. I did not buy my next scope until 1998.
Barry

#46 bremms

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:41 PM

It started for me in 70 when we moved to the country. Christmas 72, got a 60mm Sears scope. Loved looking at planets, doubles, brighter clusters and what-not. 1 1/2 years later I got an RV6. Used that one and for a good while. It was a great scope. Got a couple good eyepieces. That made a big diff. Funny, in 71 we had a 8" Tinsley Cassegrain in our house that belonged to a family friend. It was too heavy to move outside and was very "complicated". I do remember looking out the window at some stars one time. The field was narrow and I didn't really know how to unlock the axes. (8 or 9 years old). I do remember a massive, wonderfully made scope and it was VERY expensive at the time.

#47 jmandell

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:45 PM

I'm 15 right now. I am using a 12" dob and a nikon D700 on an astrotrac for astrophotography. My interests are in the faint nebulae and galaxies, right now I am working on the Herschel 400. I am also getting into the science aspect such as spectroscopy and variable star observing.

Being interested in astronomy has given me many new friends and volunteer opportunities. It has effected my future career decisions and schooling.

Overall I am thrilled that I am involved in this wonderful hobby.

#48 Startraffic

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 09:51 AM

Mr. Q,
I can remember watching for the Mercury & Gemini capsules in Baltimore. My 1st "telescope" was a 3" f10 cardboard refractor on a sheet metal alt/az mount tubular legs, a plastic R&P focuser, .965" rubber EP's & 1.5x barlow. & plastic (nonbreakable) objective lens from Western Auto. You could barely see the moon but I did try. I swore I'd watch the Eagle land with that thing. Little did I know. Built plastic models of the Gemini, Saturn V, Lem, & Skylab.
I quit for a long time when I discovered girls, & cars & that a car could supply the girls. I got back to it about 20 yrs ago. I think it'll stick this time.

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#49 csa/montana

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 10:58 AM

I'm 15 right now. I am using a 12" dob and a nikon D700 on an astrotrac for astrophotography. My interests are in the faint nebulae and galaxies, right now I am working on the Herschel 400. I am also getting into the science aspect such as spectroscopy and variable star observing.

Being interested in astronomy has given me many new friends and volunteer opportunities. It has effected my future career decisions and schooling.

Overall I am thrilled that I am involved in this wonderful hobby.


Congratulations! We are very happy to have a young person so involved with astronomy, here on CN! We look forward to your career decisions in the future. :bow:

#50 desertstars

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 11:16 AM

I'm 15 right now. I am using a 12" dob and a nikon D700 on an astrotrac for astrophotography. My interests are in the faint nebulae and galaxies, right now I am working on the Herschel 400. I am also getting into the science aspect such as spectroscopy and variable star observing.

Being interested in astronomy has given me many new friends and volunteer opportunities. It has effected my future career decisions and schooling.

Overall I am thrilled that I am involved in this wonderful hobby.



:waytogo:






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