Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 December 2010
“It's going to be clear tonight,” you think to yourself as you stare out of the window. “I can't wait for the Sun to go down!” Your mind immediately leaves whatever it is you're doing at the time, be it work, chores, school, or something else, and flies into the cosmos.
Shhh, did you hear that? That's the universe calling you.
As amateur astronomers, we aren't content to sit home at night, watch television, or drive to the local multiplex cinema to take in the latest movie. We won't have any of that. We're explorers. That's what drew us into astronomy in the first place: the idea that we can explore this marvelous universe of ours right from our backyards.
But then, hours later, as you're gathering your observing gear for a night under the stars, you stop dead in your tracks. “What am I going to look at?”
Has that ever been you? Probably. In fact, that may have been you just last night. Let's face it, if you've been involved with observational astronomy long enough, there is bound to come a time when you've seen “everything” your telescope can show you. All of a sudden, that show on television is beginning to sound tempting.
Okay, now stop right there! I'm not going to let you do it. You're an explorer. You're a pioneer. As amateur astronomers, we share a unique perspective on life.