As followers of my journey into the wonders of the universe will have noticed, I have not been active with posts in the last several months. In fact, over the last eighteen months my level of adding to the blog has been significantly reduced.
It is not inconsequential that this diminished performance coincides with a corresponding and perpetuating health issue which inhibits my overall level of physical activity. Joint pain and a general fatigue have combined to impact my lifestyle greatly and while I try to be active, many of my former pleasures have been cut back.
A year ago I believed that if I reduced the amount of gear I used for sidewalk astronomy and replaced it with a more simple system, it would be less stressful physically and I would continue to do sidewalk sessions around Charlottetown. I sold my beautiful CPC 1100 XLT telescope and all the necessary attachments and explored some interesting alternatives including a world-class refractor or an eight inch CPC HD schmidt-cassegrain telescope.
Using my remaining smaller telescopes, which I used almost exclusively for solar observing, I attempted to do more astro-imaging to improve my skills in this domain. Astrophotography, while interesting, just does not fit the person I am. I know I will never produce the kind of results such as those from the more artistic astrophotographers, and I don’t really care to try. It is an expensive and very technical field. There are differences in solar system astrophotography and deep-space imaging and the learning curves can be substantial. In addition to the complexity of astrophotography, Prince Edward Island’s climate offers few ideal nights for good imaging.
Slowly I came to the realization that I just did not have the energy to pursue sidewalk astronomy or astrophotography to the level I did previously. I did not buy another telescope and in fact now often regret selling my big eleven-inch Celestron telescope. The logical part of me remembers the physical difficulties in transporting, setting up and taking down the wonderful CPC with all the attachments and accessories. However I also remember and miss the times spent at the unusually dark urban site that is our boardwalk sharing the amazing views of our universe with all the people who stopped by for a look-see. I cherish the memories of all the wonderful people I met there and will do so for the rest of my life.
And so, with all things considered, I have decided it is time to discontinue my sidewalk astronomy journey.
Future Plans & Lessons Learned
I do expect to be periodically doing some solar observing at the boardwalk and perhaps some imaging with good friend Chris Vessey, but I do not plan to be doing any sidewalk sessions or other community astronomy in the future.
My journey into astronomy has brought me many benefits and I have learned a lot. I have met many fantastic people who, like me, have a great passion for observing the mystery and wonder of the universe. I have also met many individuals who are much more knowledgeable and informed on astronomy subjects than I could ever be and they are so willing to share their expertise with others.
Perhaps the greatest thing I have learned is about myself. I am not an astronomer, nor am I a great amateur astronomer. I am but a dreamer. I can’t remember things like the speed of light and the technical aspects of equatorial mounts continue to befuddle me. I like simple things like alt-az telescope mounts and simple astrophotography.
Setting up a telescope for imaging frustrates me but I can easily spend an hour looking at a globular cluster, a multiple star system or a nebula and just dream of what it would be like to visit it and experience its’ mysteries, if only for a while. Knowing something interesting about the object only increases my passion to spend more time looking at it. All of my astronomy books have helped me identify things I want to see, but the technical details usually cause my eyes to glaze over and my brain to fog up.
I think that this dreamer’s passion was at the root of my efforts to share astronomy with others through sidewalk astronomy, the school and the library projects. Hopefully, I have been able to ignite the spark of wonderment in others sufficiently that they will take the time to explore the cosmos on their own. The greatest pleasure I have received from my astronomy experience has always been when someone looked at something like Saturn or Jupiter through my big CPC telescope and I witnessed the awe that enveloped them. Some have cried out with the “ooh” or the “wow”, and some have just cried. I feel so fortunate to have shared in the rapture from their exposure to the wonder of the universe.
For me, the journey is coming to an end, but the dream and the memories will last forever. I thank you one and all for joining me.
This web site will remain active for another year until the hosting expires in March of 2019.