I was a child when Sputnik flew and science became the weapon to turn back the Red Menace. Science curriculums were sent to schools with the same fervor as the Homeland Security folks sent color-coded warnings. I learned the constellations by rote and how to mispronounce the Arabic names of stars. There didn't seem to be much time spent on astronomical mythology or esthetics; we were, after all, losing the space race and there was a missile gap. This caused me to wonder why my efforts to build rather large solid-fuel rockets in my basement were so unsupported by my parents and teachers. After having blown a few holes in various driveways in my attempt to join the space race, I decided it might be safer to get into observational astronomy.
I eventually talked my way into college as an education major, General Science to start with, then Special Ed. I took lots of science electives, and English, and history, and religion. People went into space, to the Moon, in shuttles and the Hubble started sending clear pictures. It was an interesting time to be alive. Family, then Grad school happened, and life settled down and seemed to make some sort of sense at the time. I introduced my patient children to my interests in rocks, weather, stars, but not do-it-yourself rocketry (I wanted them to be able to count integers upon their fingers.)
While I do take some a-focal pictures, I find that wandering attention and guiding telescopes are a poor mix. A grandfather now, I still like showing “What’s up” to anyone who wants to look. I don't spend too much time observing by myself, I enjoy sky-watches and star parties. I try to help kids retain their sense of wonder through science; paying particular emphasis on the esthetics and mythology, that were missing back in my cold-war school days.
New Things! The New Hampshire Astronomical Society LIBRARY TELESCOPE PROGRAM!
I joined the New Hampshire Astronomical Society around 1999, one of the better things I have recently done. The Club has developed a “Library Telescope Program” that gets telescopes into town libraries, where they can be checked out, just like a book. As of February 2016, we have placed 114 telescopes, and the program has been shared with clubs from England to New Zealand! The Project has been very successful and we are getting new requests from librarians and patrons every month. Please check out the material at http://www.nhastro.org/ and talk to your local astronomy club and library about setting up your own program.