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A drawing of a young man and his telescope...

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#1 amicus sidera

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 10:58 AM

Ever since writing a short history of Edmund Scientific telescopes (which can be found here, under Articles), I've begun to enjoy the type of research which was required for its completion; exhaustive internet searches, contacting historical societies, cold-calling people who may or may not be the party one is looking for... it all certainly honed my paltry investigative skills, which leads into the following:

Anyone who has a copy of Sam Brown's All About Telescopes will likely recall the drawings on page 2, in particular the fellow standing by his telescope in a suit and tie... hard to believe in 2013, but I can recall such attire being commonplace at star parties, at least into the late 1960's. I've often wondered who the young man was, if indeed he wasn't simply the product of an artist's imagination. There is a mention on that page that the drawings were adapted from Astronomy and You, by Edmund Scientific; I though this rather cryptic, as I'd never ran across any such publication in my astronomical career.

As it turns out, the title certainly exists, and I was recently able to obtain a copy in excellent condition; Astronomy and You was an Edmund giveaway, published in 1960; a 16 page comic-book-style bit of ephemera. Great drawings, done in classic comics format, illustrating basic astronomical knowledge and instruments, including (of course!) Edmund telescopes of the era. Turning to page 15, there is that young man in suit and tie from All About Telescopes, standing next to his reflector, but this time there is a name asociated with this drawing: Roman Stuart Ohnemus.

The copy indicates that he was the winner of his local science fair for his work in astrophotography (quite an accomplishment for a young man in 1960) and won "further honors" at the 11th National Science Fair in Indianapolis; a little research found that the NSF was held there in 1960. A bit more digging turned up a birthdate of 1942 for Mr. Ohnemus, which would have made him about 18 years of age at the time of his attendance at the NSF. I finally found, on an obscure search engine, a link to a Wikipedia entry that contained his name.

It seems that he had succeeded in becoming a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, and had embarked upon a career in naval aviation as a fighter pilot. One night in 1968, upon returning to Mirimar Naval Air Station in southern California after a training mission, his F-8 Crusader (an aircraft that was not known for its reliability) went down in the Black Mountains north of the base; sadly, he was unable or unwilling to eject and was killed in the crash.

I wonder if that last night, when he was in the darkness of the gunnery range over the Pacific, he gave any thought to the stars above him; perhaps astronomy held but little interest for him by then, but who knows... In any event, just a little story that I thought I would share, of a well-dressed young man and his telescope, who ultimately gave all for his country.


Fred

#2 Masvingo

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 12:02 PM

Thanks for this, Fred, a great bit of research, it's very interesting getting the background to pictures / drawings like this. Astrophotography must have been some challenge in the 60s. It's a shame he had such a tragic end .. I know the RAF over here had quite a high fatality rate post WWII in training flights and similar and guess it wasn't much different for the USN or USAF.

James

#3 amicus sidera

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 12:13 PM

Thanks, James! Once looked into, it was but a matter of an hour or so before all the information was in hand. I've looked at that drawing numerous times over the years, but never had the needed clues until this past week, with the knowledge of his name. I find such research fascinating, as there are hidden stories galore, just waiting to be brought to light.

Fred

#4 rockethead26

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 01:06 PM

That's a great story, Fred, despite the tragic ending. Is it possible for you to post the image of Roman, or are there copyright issues?

#5 amicus sidera

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 01:51 PM

Jim, I'd like to oblige, but such use appears to be forbidden. A while back, in answer to this very question, I was informed by a moderator (on another forum) that even a photo of a book cover must be linked to from an external site, due to the copyright policy on CN.

Fred

#6 rmollise

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 04:59 PM

Jim, I'd like to oblige, but such use appears to be forbidden. A while back, in answer to this very question, I was informed by a moderator (on another forum) that even a photo of a book cover must be linked to from an external site, due to the copyright policy on CN.

Fred


Yep, shame, but the term "fair use" is completely unknown here. Thanks for an excellent story. :cool:

#7 rockethead26

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 06:04 PM

Thanks for the reply, Fred. That's what I was afraid of.

#8 Jeff Phinney

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 06:13 PM

Looks to be one and the same:

http://search.ancest...RY&rank=1&ne...

#9 amicus sidera

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:38 PM

I had come across those photos this morning while researching this post, and yes, that is almost certainly him... the third picture down, which appears to be a high school yearbook photo, looks very close to the drawing in the book.

Fred

#10 amicus sidera

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:42 PM

Yep, shame, but the term "fair use" is completely unknown here. Thanks for an excellent story. :cool:


I know, it certainly rankles at times, but "house rules" and all... anyway, glad you liked it!

Fred

#11 rdandrea

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 08:31 PM

Thumbs up for this story, Fred. Thanks.

#12 cildarith

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 05:53 PM

Thanks for the story Fred. "All About Telescopes" was one of the first astronomy books I owned.

A little more info regarding the crash can be found here. Specifically:

On 12 August 1968, a U.S. Navy Vought F-8 Crusader (F-8C) fighter jet of VF-124 crashed while returning to (then) NAS Miramar, from nighttime sidewinder missile training with 3 other F-8 Crusader fighters. The pilot, LT (JG) Roman S. Ohnemus, 25, did not eject, and died in the crash. The incident occurred in the dark, early morning hours in remote, brush-covered terrain (somewhat level except for narrow valleys), north of (then) NAS Miramar, and Miramar Road, west of Hwy 395 (now I-15), and south of Black Mountain. A small brush fire was started by the crash. Live missiles presented a dangerous crash site to the first-arriving state forestry firefighters, who were woken by the crash. They were from the nearby (between 1 to 2 miles) Miramar California Division of Forestry (now CalFire) fire station.[21]

.

The area described is now heavily populated - and I live there.

#13 Starman1

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 01:20 PM

Sam Brown had a way of drawing and composing pages that made things instantly understandable. It's still in print and available for about $15.
Though a little dated and certainly not the best reference for the beginner (I think "The Backyard Astronomer's Guide" is more complete and current), it is well worth owning for the beginner, even 45-46 years after it was published.
One thing of note is that his illustrations of deep-sky objects are not exaggerated or photographic and will not lead to disappointment at what can be seen (as Hubble photos do).

#14 BigEdBSA

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Posted 27 September 2014 - 10:54 PM

I am the first cousin (first removed) for Roman Stuart Ohnemus and came across this discussion thread while doing some genealogical research with my mother.  His young life reminds me so much of that of Homer Hickman of October Sky / Rocket Boys fame who won the national science fair just a few years later.  His father, my uncle Roman Ohnemus, a World War II figher pilot is still alive and in relatively good health.  His wife, Roman Stuart's mother Carol just passed away in June.

There is a copyright sunset date for photos that may well be already expired for the photo in question but I know I would love to have a personal copy of the image of the front of that book as well as the photo on page 16.  I am at BigEdBSA@gmail.com

I can share with you that he was on the candidate list to join NASA Astronaut training corps at the time of his untimely death.  I have also just sent the URL of this discussion to several of my Ohnemus relatives and to his father.  I am sure he would be both shocked and pleased to learn of this discussion thread so many years after his death in 1968.

 

Ed Henderson

Rabun Gap GA


Edited by BigEdBSA, 27 September 2014 - 11:59 PM.







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