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How did you get into astronomy?

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#1 chrisgt


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 08:52 PM

For myself it was, 3 years ago in winter, when looking up at night I saw what I thought was the Little Dipper. I asked my dad to confirm and he told me what I saw was in fact the Pleiades Cluster (pretty embarrassing now). He had an old pair of binoculars at his house so I decided to take a closer look and the bright jewels within M45 were enough to spark complete awe in my soul.

From there I did the natural thing for someone my age and started youtubing the ever living crap out of astronomy and telescopes. One of the videos being, from a guy named Trevor in Canada, about the AD8 dobsonian telescope. Did a little more research and decided to start out with the AD10 and the rest is history. 


I am curious as to what your stories are! A defining moment or perhaps it was just a part of your upbringing?

Edited by chrisgt, 13 January 2020 - 10:55 PM.

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#2 JoshUrban


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 08:58 PM

The Pleiades were my first find, too!  What a sight...


  I got interested as a kid, and the local scope shop discouraged me from getting a small scope.  Almost quit, but then my uncle sent me an 80mm refractor for a present the following year.  Been stargazing ever since!  Got an 8" dob cooling in the front yard at this very moment.  

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#3 chrisgt


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:10 PM

That is awesome and lucky you! We've had clouds and rain in the southeast for the past few nights...

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#4 Jim Waters

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:15 PM

My uncle got me a Tasco 60mm scope - Doublet air spaced multi-coated.  Vintage 1967.  First object was the moon then M45.

Edited by Jim Waters, 13 January 2020 - 09:16 PM.

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#5 kfiscus


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:28 PM

In 1980 my best friend in 8th grade had an older brother move off to college and leave him homemade 4.5" and 6" reflectors.  We began finding Messier objects together and I've never looked back.

Edited by kfiscus, 13 January 2020 - 09:34 PM.

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#6 Telescopy


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:59 PM

I got an Orion observer 70mm AZ refractor as a young kid but never really used it. That telescope stayed with me as basically a piece of decoration for a few years until one night back in summer of 2018, when I was 13, I saw a bright orange "star" in the sky and decided to bring out my little used telescope and point it at it.

I popped in my highest power eyepiece (of course) and proceeded to try try to find it without using the red dot finder (whose batteries were probably dead or not even in it at the time anyway) but, by luck, I found it.

I focused the telescope and saw a small, bright, and round thing with four little white dots around it. At first I didn't know what this was, but soon realized that it was a planet and its moons, and when i looked at it more carefully, I saw two bands running sideways across the surface.

I checked the Star Chart app on our iPad and my suspicion was correct: I had just seen Jupiter and its Galilean moons for the first time. I was so amazed that my little decorative telescope could do this. On this particular night, there was sort of a concert going nearby, and I got this indescribable feeling as I was watching Jupiter drift across the FOV and listening to the muffled music in the background. 


After this, I started researching on how telescopes, eyepieces, and mounts worked on the internet and also started going up to the local observatory on public observing nights regularly to observe Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon through the large 10" refractor. I became obsessed with telescopes.

Telescopy was my new hobby.

Edited by Telescopy, 13 January 2020 - 10:01 PM.

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#7 cookjaiii


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:00 PM

My wife and I bought an LL Bean 60mm refractor at a garage sale.  We used it to look at the Moon once briefly, but the mount was nearly impossible to use and we put it away in frustration.  Fast forward 12 years to Fall 2015. My wife saw an article about a conjunction of Jupiter, Venus, and Mars being visible just before dawn.  I woke up early and decided to wrestle the gangly refractor from the attic while the family was still asleep.  It took a while, but I finally got Jupiter in the eyepiece and was excited to see Jupiter as a round disk instead of a point of light.  Then I noticed a string of tiny stars lined up in a row next to Jupiter and it struck me like a thunderbolt that I was seeing the moons of Jupiter!  I involuntarily shouted out loud in amazement and I've been hooked ever since.  That plastic 20mm Huygens eyepiece gave me my most memorable view of Jupiter ever. 

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#8 MalVeauX



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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:06 PM

I looked up.


I wondered what all that was. Why could I see it? What did it mean. Did it matter?


I kept looking up.


I would ask what something was or how it was there or what it meant. No one answered. So I had to find out for myself. That put me into learning more about it.


The idea that we can look out from our little planet, and see through our atmosphere the light coming from so many objects and stars, all so very far away, and viewing the literal past by even seeing it, was the biggest and most profound thought experiment that had an observable component for me. It shrinks our importance and our local area as we realize how much more there really is.


Then came telescopes.... and cameras.... and observatory.... and... this forum! Ugh! lol.gif flowerred.gif


My first scope was a Sears or JC Penny's refractor in the 80's.


Very best,

Edited by MalVeauX, 13 January 2020 - 10:06 PM.

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#9 desertstars



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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:09 PM

I can't remember a time when I wasn't interested in astronomy. The night sky has always drawn my gaze.

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#10 jim kuhns

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:14 PM

In early May 1962 I saw a bright object in the west and pointed a pair of binoculars
at the object. Had to wait a day and went to the library next day and found out it was
Venus. I was a happy 12yr old curious boy and still that curiosity cares on.
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#11 ks__observer



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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:24 PM

About 6-7 years ago my parents' neighbor gave them a 4.5" Meade reflector -- looked like from the 90's -- smaller eyepiece.

It stayed in my parents' attic for several years until one summer day when I was over and I saw these bright objects in the evening summer sky out my parents' backyard.

The telescope in the attic always interested me so I literally dusted it off to take a look at those bright objects.

I could not believe I was seeing Saturn's rings and Jupiter's moons.

Next day I bought a Nexstar 6SE.

Shortly after that a 10in Dob.

The rest is history.  See signature line below.

Edited by ks__observer, 13 January 2020 - 10:30 PM.

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#12 ShaulaB



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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:25 PM

My grandfather had a WWII surplus refractor mounted on a tripod. I would take it out and look at the Moon and some stars. This was in the late 1960's. Never stopped looking up.

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#13 DavidC


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:37 PM

My initial experience of seeing saturn for the first time was in the early '70's while I was a boy scout on a full moon night hike with the troop I was in. My scoutmaster had a 60mm refractor that he carried strapped on his back pack, after we had dinner and set up tents, he set up his refractor and saturn is the only object I remember looking at, I'm shure there were more. In between years, there were girls, hot rods and drag strips to occupy my time. Advance to 2005, I found a 6 inch orion dobsonian on the cheap somewhere, learned to use and collimate it, then my passion for saturn returned. Even today, saturn is my favorite planet to get hypnotised on, following that, I love to get hypnotised by m42, m13 and m37.



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#14 redskynj


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:43 PM

3 years ago I bought a Canon SX60HS. I noticed that Jupiter was out, so out of curiosity I zoomed in and snapped some pictures and could clearly see 4 moons orbiting, but no banding or details. So I immediately bought a cheap Celestron Newtonian and mount. I could just barely make out some detail, but was unable to get a picture that showed any. So I immediately bought a Celestron NexStar 8se and one of their planetary cameras. This got me fuzzy pictures, but at least you could tell it wasn't the moon or a streetlight or something. So I immediately bought a ZWO asi224 and some barlows. This got me clearer bands and a big red spot and brought Saturn within my grasp. Planetary season ended, but my addiction didn't, so I bought a tracker, a tripod, and a dslr with a 300mm lens. This brought me to Orion and increased the photo quality and opened the door to other galaxies. So I immediately bought an AVX and an 80mm refractor. Then more gear. Better cameras. Guiding. A permanant pier mount. A dedicated astro crash cart with a 40 inch monitor for focus and realtime display and a second monitor for guiding and camera control. This all took roughly 3 months. It's been cloudy ever since.

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#15 coopman


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:44 PM

In the mid- 60's there was this little pocket-sized book called, "The Sky Observers Guide". I blame it all on that little book. I read it over & over again until it finally just fell apart.
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#16 Migwan



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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:49 PM

I've known the planets and many of the constellations since I was a kid.   Working long night shifts I would call Deb and let her know to go out and look at planetary alignments and such.  Just something other than work to talk about.  


4 yrs ago she wanted a telescope for Xmas.  She got a high tech coffee maker and a 90mm achro.   So its her fault.   fingertap.gif   



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#17 chrisgt


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:52 PM

This all took roughly 3 months. It's been cloudy ever since.

That's the way it goes LOL 

#18 bobharmony


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 11:14 PM

I was a kid in the 60s, along with the space program, which caught my interest first.  I discovered that my friend had a cardboard tube refractor with a slide focuser, so I made him let me point it at the Moon one evening.  That was the start of  a lifelong interest in looking up and seeing what was out there.  I acquired a department store refractor and put it on an EQ mount from Edmund Scientific.


This led eventually to setting up a darkroom for photo processing and trying to capture images, which was beyond my capability at the time, other than some afocal Moon and planet pics.  For years, I would go out every year for the Perseids and whatever other events could be seen naked eye, including some impressive comets and a 99% total solar eclipse on Cape Cod, but I didn't take up my real passion - astrophotography - until the 2010s.  Now the digital age has put this some much more easily within our reach, and I am reaching!



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#19 sunnyday


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Posted 13 January 2020 - 11:31 PM



when I was little in the 60s, my mother made me discover the sky and the constellations. our sky in those times was black and I could see the strip of our galaxy (the Milky Way) of the city where I live always . since that time I contemplate the sky now with a thought for the one that made me discover so much beauty.
            ps, quite rare for a woman at this time (60s) to know the sky so well.

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#20 Jond105


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Posted 14 January 2020 - 02:55 AM

Moved to general astronomy for a better fit. 


Got into astronomy because my wife wanted a telescope for Christmas, I got hooked and have been gazing since then. 

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#21 Sky Muse

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 03:36 AM

At the age of nine or so I got my first telescope.  I still have it...




...a 60mm f/11 achromat.  The very first object I saw through it was Saturn, and with my late father...


...and the rest is history.

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#22 chrysalis



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Posted 14 January 2020 - 04:43 AM

I'm what you'd consider a "born scientist". I always loved anything in the scientific field, and astronomy foremost. I always say what hooked me was:


One night, when I was about 6 or 7 (and already "living" at the library; so this was maybe 1960 or 61), I was awakened from sleep by my father. He and a friend had crafted a crude telescope from a shaving mirror and he wanted to show me the rising orange moon. I was hooked the moment I saw that.

Edited by chrysalis, 14 January 2020 - 04:44 AM.

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#23 flt158


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Posted 14 January 2020 - 07:39 AM

Great topic to pick!


A Ladybird book on Space. 

The full colour pictures made a huge impact on me - especially the one of Mars.

We're talking 1965 with I was 5. 

Then man walked on the Moon in 1969 and the rest is history. 

First telescope was a 30X refractor which my Dad bought when I was 13 in a camera shop. 

Soon found I could see 3 moons around Jupiter. 


Happy Days!



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#24 Allan Wade

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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:09 AM

Halley’s Comet got me started. I remember reading in one of the astronomy magazines an extract of a young girls diary who recorded seeing Halley’s Comet from London in 1910. It was fascinating, and I did something similar.


There was quite a build up to the comet in 1985, and my parents bought me a 60mm refractor and later a 4.5” Newtonian to observe Halley’s. Telescopes were so expensive back then, and I felt like a king with my 4.5”. 

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#25 Chucky



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Posted 14 January 2020 - 08:32 AM

<<  My uncle got me a Tasco 60mm scope - Doublet air spaced multi-coated.  Vintage 1967.  >>


Me too Jim Waters.  But mine was a 1966.

Edited by Chucky, 14 January 2020 - 08:33 AM.

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