darksky25 at charter dot net
I'm a 40-something year old school psychologist, married with one daughter. My primary hobbies are reading (anything related to science or the history of science), music, chess, tennis, football (from September to January), photography, and clearly, astronomy. I was a science buff as a kid, and had a cheap department store refractor. I got away from the hobby during college and beyond, but always stayed connected with the space and astronomy scene through reading and then by checking out the appropriate forums on Compuserve (where I was the Chess Forum sysop for 6 years), and later, by surfing the emerging internet.
For my 33rd birthday, my wife and daughter got me a 4.5 inch Celestron reflector on an equatorial mount. The very first night I took it out in my backyard, I mentally kicked myself for ever abandoning the hobby. Within a few weeks, I started making preparations for my next telescope. I read, researched, asked questions, and eventually joined the Madison Astronomical Society. The following year, I purchased my current scope (see below), and have become more and more immersed in the hobby of amateur astronomy (objectively measurable by the amount of money I've spent).
Professionally, I am a school psychologist for the Madison Metropolitan School District, my employer since January of 1993. Beginning in the fall of 2000, I was given the unprecedented (in my knowledge) opportunity to be a part-time instructor in the MMSD planetarium. During the 2001-2002 school year, I took a virtual hiatus from school psychology and continued my role as a planetarium instructor, and also took over as the director of the observatory located in the school forest just south of Verona, WI. It was a good year, though the technical problems with the observatory, as well as the frustrating lack of participation by teachers made it a somewhat disappointing year. I did get to do some good work supporting teachers in the classroom, and helping to develop curriculum in astronomy. More recently, the funding for the observatory has officially been cut, but the telescope is still operational, and has in fact been enhanced by our recent installation of the software suite made up of Astronomer's Control Panel, MaxIM and Pinpoint. Using the combination, we are finally able to allow true remote operation of the observatory by teachers and students.
The shot below is an ancient picture from the Madison Astronomical Society's "moon party" on top of the Monona Terrace Convention Center, September 17, 1999. City lights did not diminish the brilliance of the moon, Jupiter or Saturn. An estimated 500 people stopped by for a look through the telescopes we had set up for the occasion. We continue to do the Moon Over Monana event every year and it's always a blast.
|Image credit: Tim Ellestad, © 1999. Used with permission.|
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