Saturday, April 27, 2013

Basically I have been interested in the night sky for as long as I can remember. When I was very young I remember being in my grandparents front yard with my father and grandfather as they stood looking into the night sky. Now mind you I was 2 years and 8 months old. I am talking about December of 1957. Before you knew it, my mother, grandmother, aunt and a few neighbors were all standing around doing the same thing, staring into the vast blackness of cold winter night sky. When all of a sudden my father said, "there it is". Everyone starting pointing upward as my father was holding me at the time, as he too was pointing in the direction that he wanted me to look. I remember him asking if I could see the star that was moving, (what ever a star was). I do remember seeing something of a point of light moving, being as there was absolutely nothing else in motion. They watched it for several minutes as it disappeared off to the east. I really didn't know what all the commotion was all about, a 2 year old does not have much of an attention span. However I do remember that it was very cold out and wanted to go back inside and be warm again. What everyone was looking at was the first satellite ever lunched into space, it was Sputnik 1. Even at the time it did not mean anything to me until years later I learned that Sputnik 1 was the first satellite ever lunched into space. Then much to my surprise I learned that it had only spent about three months in orbit before it burnt up upon reentry. It was only about the size of a basketball, but could plainly be seen.
Years later laying on my back looking into the night sky with my fathers binoculars taking in everything I could possibly see. Stars seemed to be pretty cool until I seen something else up there that was moving and I knew it was not a star nor an airplane. I had just viewed my first satellite that I had found on my own. After that, weather permitting, it had become a nightly show for me. I had become so transfixed with looking into the night sky that my eye sockets hurt from laying there resting the weight of those 10 x 50's on my face trying to hold them as still as possible. I wanted to see everything I could and not miss a thing. My father then had decided to purchase a telescope mainly for his own use, but you know how that turned out. I remember that scope very well. As a matter of fact, I have that vary scope to this day. It was a Tasco refractor. It has a 60mm diameter with a 700mm focal length. To a young boy this scope seemed so big and long as it was perched on top of the tripod. Needless to say as time went on and looking into every Sky & Telescope magazine I could possible find or lay my hands on, I started to see and read about telescopes that were a lot bigger in apeture. One afternoon on my way home from high school (Macomber), myself and a few friends were waiting for the bus downtown on Huron St. in front of Kramers smoke shop. In Kramers, they had a very nice selection of books. Sports, hunting, outdoor magazine, then what catches my eye, but that months issue of Sky & Telescope. Right beside that was another magazine called "Astronomy". I fell deeper in love with the hobby and would rather read those than any old book at school.
It was not too very long after that when I decided to purchase my first Schmidt Cassegrain scope. It was a tabletop model and only 4" in diameter. I named it Phobos, after the moon around Mars. Small moon, small scope. After that I would, and still do name my scopes after moons of our solar system. I started Sunset Observatory in 1984. I knew that at the time and only a 4" scope things most definitely had to change. As time went on, I was now working in the United Building Trades as a Sheet Metal Worker. I seen my first large apeture Schmidt Cassegrain telescope at a local camera shop in 1989. It seemed like a monster. It was an 8" Meade on a forked arm German equatorial mount. Had to have one. I placed an order with City Camera in Dearborn michigan for a scope. But what I had ordered was an even bigger 2120 LX 6- 10". Being as I was young and not a lot of money, I had to finance this loan, so a fitting name was going to be IO, (moon of Jupiter), hence I owed. And the love and purchases continue to this day.
I had pretty much every monthly issue of Sky & Telescope to date until, that horrible night in 1994 when I had a garage fire. Not only did I loose every one of those issues to the fire, I also lost my 10" Schmidt Cassegrain ( IO), along with my very first table top Schmidt Cassegrain ( Phobos). I was totally heartbroken. Thank God for replacement cost coverage on my homeowners insurance.