(IAAC) Introduction


I developed an interest in the  night skies growing up in rural
Missouri. The nearest city of over a few thousand people was 60 miles.
So, the skies were very dark. With the help of a cheap star chart, I
learned all the constellations and major stars by the time I was a
teenager. Unfortunately, I failed to recognize what I could have done
with my fathers World War II German Army field glasses. 

I college, I took a basic astronomy class. That's where I was introduced
to what a real good amateur scope could do. The first time I looked at
Saturn and Jupiter in a 7" refractor, I was hooked. From that time, I
have wanted to obtain a good scope. But, I never had the money.

I'm now 43. I bought my first scope used about a year ago. There is an
interesting story about how I got it. I belong to a local amateur
astronomy club and they regularly run for sale ads. They only run them
for 2 issues if you don't renew them. One month, I saw an ad for what
sounded like just the scope I wanted. I decided I didn't have the money.
So, I passed. The second issue with the ad was delivered. Again, I
decided I couldn't afford it. Then, I came up with some extra money but
couldn't find one of the issues with the ad in it. The next month's
issue came and when I looked in the sale ads, there it was for a third
time. I called the man and he still had the scope. I went down and
bought it. I said I was glad he renewed the ad. He said he hadn't done
it. I guess the astronomy gods were looking out for me. Anyway, I got a
two year old Meade 10" f4.5 reflector with equatorial mount still in the
sealed box for $350.00. It was in perfect working condition. 

The bad part is that I live in Philadelphia. I like Philly but there is
terrible light pollution. Tonight is a clear night and I can just barely
see the sword stars of Orion. It doesn't help that I live next to a
local commuter train station with lots of yellow sodium vapor lights
that are on all night. I'm surprised just how much I can see. The
brighter Messier and NGC objects are usually visible. Because of my
experience I feel comfortable telling prospective telescope buyers not
to worry about spending money if they live in or near a major city.
You'll still get lots of use from the scope. 

Our local club has the use of several dark sky locations about an hour
drive west of the city. There, many deep sky objects are visible even in
a small scope. Amateur astronomy can be very enjoyable, even for a city
dweller. You just have to work harder at it. I'm still envious of the
people who live in Arizona!

Clear Skies,

Harold W.