Thursday, July 17, 2008


A few months ago my wife and I were discussing several matters. One of those matters had to do with how we spent our free time. Mostly, this free time was spent sitting in front of the television, doing essentially ... nothing. Well, we both decided that nothing was not a very Good Thing. So, we decided that we needed to do something, anything. We needed to find some hobbies.

It's not as easy, finding this hobby, as some might expect. Or perhaps, I'm not very adept at it. I had to search high and low, and long and hard to find something that captured my interest. Now, I play softball when the season comes around, and I play racquetball every other day with some friends of mine at the local gym (it's forcing me to wake up around 5:30 am, which has taken some getting used to) ... but I don't consider those "hobbies". Those are activities, and healthy ones at that, that I enjoy doing ... but they don't quite have hobby status to me. For me, a hobby is something that you can do with friends or alone, and you'd be fine either way.

I think I finally settled on my first hobby: Astronomy*. I remember the few times growing up that I was able to really view the night sky; when we escaped the light pollution of NYC when we went on vacation into upstate NY. I'd track satellites, gaze at the moon, try to find as many constellations as I could. I thought it was cool, but never really pursued it. Well, I want to pursue it now. But, I'm trying to be practical about it. As much as I'd love to jump in feet first and buy myself a nice telescope in the $1-2K range, I think that's a bit over the top. Especially if after a couple of tries, I find out it's not for me. So, I'm starting out small. Fortunately, a local college has an observatory and a couple of assistant/associate professors who teach astronomy there. In talking to one of them, they confirmed my thoughts that I should start out with a pair of good binoculars. That was the recommendation from Sky & Telescope. A good pair seems like it'll run me close to $100. I have a tripod so the price will be reduced somewhat. Then with a good field guide, I'll be ready to go. The local college also has an astronomy club, so I should be able to supplement my star gazing with the telescopes that others bring. That'll also allow me to gather data on what telescope, should I continue on with this hobby, that I would like to buy as well.

In the meantime however, if anyone is an amateur (or professional) astronomer, any and all comments/suggestions are more than welcome.

*I'm fascinated with the idea of being able to view the rings of Saturn (see picture below), and the Space Station from where I stand. Maybe even the Space Shuttle. The picture at the top of the blog entry was taken by an amateur astronomer. It's a truly inspiring photo.

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