Space, the final frontier. No matter how many times I gaze up toward the starry night, I always find it amazing, mesmerizing, fantastic!
The wonders of Space and the secrets it keeps have haunted me since I was a 5 years old kid. Living in a Nation in a period of time where science and public information was restricted, I’ve desperately looked for information where possible: newspapers, TV news, Sci-Fi movies, magazines, whatever mean possible. My Dad helped me, sending me articles from foreign newspapers, while he traveled to Panama and Colombia.
I remember one time when, after gaining access to a private store in Managua (the only one allowed to sell products in US Dollars, open only for Diplomatics), I found a 2 inches refractor telescope, awaiting in one corner. My eyes grew wide at the view and rapidly requested my Dad to buy it for me. He looked at me and, with the seriousness that characterized him, he denied me my request. No matter how many times I pleaded that day, that telescope remained in the store and I left the building with a sad feeling.
Several decades later, I clearly understand his decision: being an unexperienced kid, with no knowledge at all about observational astronomy and no possible ways for finding a mentor, no matter how hard I could have tried: at the end, I would have ended frustrated, deeply.
Now, as an Amateur Astronomer and father to 3 kids, I can teach them the wonders of sky, in a way I could have only dreamed at their age. They join me at the backyard when I point one of the telescopes that I now own toward the Moon, or Saturn or Jupiter. They recognize the objects on the computer screen and start making questions about planets, comets and meteors.
But, besides the joy of sharing my passion with my Wife and Kids, I found another reason for loving Amateur Astronomy: To show the Night Sky to my Neighbors!
Every time I place my telescope at the sidewalk, it is inevitable! Swarms of kids and young people gather around, and beging making all possible questions from “What are you looking at?” to “Are there Aliens in the Backyard?”
Once I managed to set a little order, one by one everyone of them peered into the eyepiece and the look in their faces is priceless. Many of them lined up again for a second, third or fourth time!
The Moon and its mountains and craters causes a great impression on them, but always the Winner is Saturn and its rings. Using a low power eyepiece (75x) I challenged them to spot Titan and all of them start making a more detailed observation. Then, if I have my laptop nearby, I open up Stellarium and show them what were they looking at. And one more time questions arise.
Trust me on this: there is no better way and tool to help kids in their quest for science and knowledge than Astronomy! Let’s transmit to them our joy and passion, and teach them their way to the stars!
Remember, they are our future. They are the ones that will walk on the Moon again and fly toward other worlds.
Space, the Final Frontier… let’s help them to boldly go where we always wanted to be!