What's Your Best Astro Experience?

by Taylor Reid

Here is my list of memorable astronomy experiences:

1. When I was in college I heard about an upcoming total lunar eclipse. I was not particularly into astronomy, but an eclipse sounded like something worth seeing. So I drove up to Lake Tahoe to watch it unfold. What I saw simply blew my mind. At totality there was this strange red orb hanging in the sky surrounded by a multitude of brilliant stars. It looked so alien to me that I felt like I was looking at the night sky from the surface of another planet.

2. Last summer I took my wife and kids over to the Chabot Space and Science Center in the Oakland hills to see the planetarium show and take a peek through their telescopes. When my turn came to view M57 through the 20" refractor, I was once again shocked to see something so alien in the sky. Having spent my life under light-polluted skies, I had been lulled into a complacent sense that the night sky contained nothing more than a handful of stars and the moon. But here in front of my eyes was a ghostly RING of light. Once I got over the shock and accepted the reality of what I was seeing, I was struck by the magnitude and diversity of the universe spread out above us in the night sky. With that view of the Ring Nebula, I was hooked. Two months later I was the proud owner of a new telescope that has since provided me with many hours of enjoyable observing and has fueled an interest in astronomy that has rubbed off on both my wife and kids.

3. Shingletown 2003. This was my first major star party. I came with high expectations, and the actual experience exceeded them in every respect. These were just a few of the highlights for me:

Thank you Jim, Mark, and all the volunteers for making Shingletown such an enjoyable and memorable event. I already have SSP 2004 on the calendar.