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beyond beginner

Started by BABOafrica, 01/15/2012 06:43AM
Posted 01/15/2012 06:43AM Opening Post
Last night I was out looking at the sky with my 10" Dob and this guy happens to come in late from the airport and sees me. He's never looked thru a scope before and gets interested.

I offer him a gander thru the EP and explain, "You're looking at an object we usually call a cluster of stars. It's one of the objects listed by Messier called M47."

He says, "Wow that is really amazing -- to see all those stars!"

The moon was up. I was in the parking lot at school not far from the center of Nairobi, so light pollution plus moon meant you could see only the brightest stars naked eye. He was amazed because there was no star in sight in the part of the sky where the telescope was pointing. He said, "How can you be sure it's M47?"

For the first time in the my life, I thought, I'm no longer a beginner. I limited myself to telling him, "It would take a while to explain, but I'm sure it's M47."

I was wondering if others had a moment in their life where they said to something like that to themselves.


In lumine tuo videbimus lumen.

8O Home-made 10” Dob / Home-made 4” refractor

EPs: Konig 32mm (1.25") / Zhumell WF 30mm (2") / Nagler 13mm T1 / Orion Sirius Plossls 25 & 10mm / Zhumell Plossl 9 mm / Meade MA 9mm
Posted 01/16/2012 06:38AM | Edited 01/16/2012 06:41AM #1
Hello there. My moment came after Christmas in 2004. I went to my parents' in Jacksonville, Florida, to help my brothers cut up a tree that Hurricane Jeane had knocked over into the cove behind their house. I took along a 4" achromatic refractor I had at the time, having gotten back into the hobby only 11 months before that. One night, we had a little star party with some of the nephews and nieces. Neither the moon nor any planets were up at the time so I pointed the achro at the double cluster, the Pleiades, and the Great Nebula of Orion. It was nice to help the kids with the experience by letting each take some time at the eyepiece, telling them about averted vision, and explaining to them what they were seeing. The part about averted vision started a side conversation in which I learned something myself. My Dad who was helping, started talking about how during WWII the Navy taught their sailors averted vision the better to see ships at night.

Now eight years into the hobby and with a 5" achro, I find myself helping out with answers very once in a while. But I still have new experiences and questions, and I still learn from "old pros" hanging around here or on Cloudy Nights (Jon comes to mind, for example)....

Mark Costello
Matthews, NC, USA

"I hear you're mechanically inclined. Did you ever do anything with perpetual motion?"

"Yeah, I nearly had it a couple of times."
Posted 01/17/2012 03:53PM #2

Your story is a good one and your question is a good one. In many ways, many good ways, I still feel like a beginner. The excitement, the enthusiasm, the desire to get out there and enjoy the night sky, it is still there...

Beginners mind...

I cannot really remember the first time I felt like I was more than a beginner.. But that realization still happens. I might be sitting in the back row at a meeting of the campus astro-physics club and someone asks a question and an hour later I am still up there talking, explaining... Sometime during that hour, an awareness arises of just how much I have learned and the skills I have developed.

But the sky is limitless so the road is endless and no matter where one is on that road, one is just beginning.

Beginner's mind.

Posted 01/18/2012 07:07AM #3
I'd say my moment I felt like I finally was catching on was when I was observing with a friend that was just starting out. He was trying to find M3, which is sort of "out there" away from brighter stars. I only looked through his telrad, moved the scope a bit and told him it should be in the eyepiece and it was dead center!