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Ken Fulton the Light Hearted Astronomer has passed away.

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#1 Darren Drake

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:13 AM

Im not sure which forum is best for this post so please feel free to move it but I belive the classics forum is where most will know his name.  My good friend Ken Fulton has passed away.  He wrote the survival manual The Light Hearted Astronomer back in the mid '80's and it was very popular.   More recently he wrote the sequel The Light Hearted Astronomer Observes Again.   He had been hospitalized several weeks ago for an infection and was not able to recover.  His wife of 50 years Doris had been keeping friends appraised on his condition for weeks on social media.   Ken kept a pretty low profile over the years and could have made many appearances by popular demand but that wasnt his style.  He was recently slated to speak at the Texas Star Party but it fell through at the last minute.   He had been planning to move into a new place with Doris but covid delayed the move.  Ken definitely had more living to do and the astronomical community will definitely feel his loss..

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Edited by Darren Drake, 04 August 2020 - 11:21 AM.

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#2 Chuck Hards

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:41 AM

Was he a CN member, Darren?  I've been in the hobby since 1968 and am not familiar with him, but am sorry for the loss of your friend. 


Was it COVID-related? 



#3 jcruse64



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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:44 AM

Very sorry to hear of this; my condolences.

#4 BoldAxis1967


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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:48 AM

Being relatively new to the amateur astronomy I was not aware of his book until about a year or two ago.  I thought that the 1980's edition was a great book cover.  I have not read his book but judging from the title and cover I wonder if it on some level is like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. 



#5 ScottAstroNut


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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:56 AM

I am very saddened to hear of Ken's passing. His book, "The Light-Hearted Astronomer," is one of my all-time astronomy favorites. It was informative at the time of its publication, but more importantly, was entertaining and inspirational. It gave me a smile a good many cloudy nights, and still does.


That he kept his sense of humor despite hardships developed later in life (including the tragic loss of his favorite telescope) was also inspiring to me.


My condolences. 

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#6 starman876


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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:57 AM

Very sorry my condolences. Passing of a friend is always hard.

#7 scottinash


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Posted 04 August 2020 - 12:04 PM

Thanks for making us aware of this very sad news. I enjoyed Ken’s writing and immediately recalled the various statements on back of my copy..especially, his wife’s...LOL! 

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Edited by scottinash, 04 August 2020 - 12:23 PM.

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#8 tim53


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Posted 04 August 2020 - 01:02 PM

This is very sad news indeed.  frown.gif

#9 Terra Nova

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 01:15 PM

I was very sorry to hear that. I had never met Ken in person but we corresponded here and on Facebook several years ago. I was such a nice person. It was sad when his macular degeneration kept him from directly observing the wonders of the night sky. I know that bothered him greatly as it would any of us. Our community has suffered another loss. I regret never getting an opportunity to meet him in real life. RIP to the Light Hearted Astronomer. He lifted many other hearts as well as well as his own. Now it’s back to the stardust from which we all have come.

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#10 Bob S

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 03:01 PM

Ken Fulton wrote a book that I've gone back to over and over since I bought it at the Adler Planetarium in l986 or 7. Technologies have changed, but his insights into what is necessary and what isn't are still valid. The humor in his book seemed to me always to come from the deep well of his own experiences in astronomy. His advice is down-to-earth and practical. The book is a classic. 

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#11 CHASLX200



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Posted 04 August 2020 - 05:58 PM

Never read that book yet.

#12 marcyc


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Posted 04 August 2020 - 06:06 PM

So very sorry.

I bought his book in the late 80s when I was first getting into amateur astronomy. It was even because of him that I ended up buying the Vixen Custom 90M that I still have and love today. (He recommended a 4" alt-az refractor as a first scope, but 90mm was all I could afford at the time.)

I have read his book at least a dozen times over the years - it never failed to pull me back into the hobby when life occasionally yanked me away. His love for the night sky was contagious. I even own two copies of his book - I acquired the second just in case the first never found its way back to me when I lent it out.

RIP to a man who probably never realized how much he meant to so many of us.

Edited by marcyc, 05 August 2020 - 09:31 AM.

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#13 Marc-Andre



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Posted 04 August 2020 - 06:20 PM

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.  I enjoyed his "Lighthearted Astronomer" in the 80's.

#14 grif 678

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 06:31 PM

I remember very well the ads for his book The Lighthearted Astronomer. I am sorry for the loss of your friend, it as sad to see so many of our fellow astronomers ( that we kind of looked up to ) to pass. I remember a part of the ad saying something like Galileo wishing he had read this book before he bought his first scope.

#15 clamchip



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Posted 04 August 2020 - 08:02 PM

Ken has gone to the spirit in sky we will meet up soon.

When one of us departs it never fails this song is what I hear:




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#16 brian dewelles

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:43 PM

Very sad to hear. I bought a copy of light hearted astronomer from OPT in 1993 when i was in california for business. I read it cover to cover that night in my hotel room, and i'm not a fast reader, it was just that good. 

Ken Fulton was a fine writer. Rest in peace.

#17 Mark F

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 12:49 AM

I read the original "The Light-Hearted Astronomer" in the late 1980s and a couple years ago in anticipation of the sequel, which I also read.  I followed him on Facebook and always discussed meeting for a Chicken-Fried Steak, since we were both in Texas.  That moment was lost in Covid and other issues, lesson learned.  I can only re-read the original, and the sequel, which  I will do in a few days in his memory.  Maybe I will eat a Chicken Fried Steak while reading. 


Thanks Ken. Clear skies.

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#18 John Higbee

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 03:54 AM

I've been a fan of Ken's since he wrote The Light-Hearted Astronomer...It's one of the best amateur astronomy "starter books" I've found.  Went so far as to buy five copies for my local astronomy club's library, for our new members' use.


So sorry to hear that he's passed...but know he's using his restored vision in a place where the skies are always dark, and the "seeing" is always perfect. 


Godspeed, Ken!

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#19 Tropobob


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Posted 05 August 2020 - 04:32 AM

Sorry to hear this, but thanks for providing this sad news. 


I enjoyed reading his book many years back, and lately I have seen it on my bookshelf calling out to me, saying read me again. 

#20 beanerds



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Posted 05 August 2020 - 05:22 AM

I've not read the book as its like hens teeth down here , but I always loved that photo on the cover .


R.I.P Old mate .


Beanerds .

#21 TSSClay


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Posted 05 August 2020 - 08:36 AM

I am very sorry to hear this.  Ken's book was a great help when I re-entered the hobby in the mid 90's.  I just picked it off the bookshelf and started re-reading it a week ago.  His insights and humor is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago.


RIP Ken.



#22 mfalls


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Posted 05 August 2020 - 10:27 AM

About Ken Fulton from his author page at Amazon. 

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#23 Spyke



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Posted 05 August 2020 - 12:54 PM

So sorry to hear this sad news. Although I'm not overly familiar with his work, I now know what books I am going to read next. 

#24 jsiska


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Posted 05 August 2020 - 04:26 PM

I read my copy many years ago; somehow, it is still in like new condition. It was a fun read, I'm sorry to learn he has passed. I didn't know he wrote a sequel. Now that I know, I'll have to get a copy.

Light-Hearted Astronomer.JPG

Edited by jsiska, 05 August 2020 - 04:27 PM.

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#25 RalphMeisterTigerMan



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Posted 06 August 2020 - 03:07 AM

Really sad news! Back in mid-1980's I was a member of the Astronomy Book of the Month Club advertised in both Astronomy and Sky and Telescope magazines. One of the books that I received while a member was "The Light Hearted Astronomer". I lost count of how many times I read that book.


Somewhere in his book, he mentions a certain Telescope that he held onto over the decades which was secretly always his favourite. He even mentions that he was going to take it to Heaven with him when the time came, "God said that I could" is what Ken wrote. I'm not sure but the telescope in question may have been an older 4-inch achromat.


Some day, I hope to see Ken there observing with this particular telescope! Maybe he'll even let me have a look!


Good speed and R.I.P. Ken, you will be missed!


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