The great astronomers, professional and amateur, can be quite specific about when, how and what event ignited their interest in the night sky. It would have been the same moment that also piqued their inspiration for science, and for a life of imagining, dreaming and acting on their dreams.
That event is still available for us all to take advantage of — especially if we can also inspire our kids, grandkids and others we love.
At approximately the age of 10, or perhaps a couple of years on either side of that age, looking up at a clear night sky can set in motion the great wondering which charts the course of our future lives. Simply find a planet, such as the incredibly magnificent Saturn, or a bright star like Sirius, the Dog Star, or a constellation like Orion, borrow binoculars or a telescope, and have a look. The wonder that always manifests itself results in the excited exclamation, “Wow!”
The world is increasingly complicated and disrupted by intrusions into what could be our personal calm and time of peace and mindfulness. However, looking up at a clear night sky can recall the whole of human history. We can go on a personal journey back in time thousands of years ago when we sat around a campfire asking questions of each other while looking at or worshiping some bright object.
The questions are still with us — questions like: “I wonder what you are, twinkling star?!” Such a “wonder what you are” moment is a direct precursor to the idea of exploration and discovery. Carry that forward, and the wondering can change our lives and change our perspectives and values.
Dangerously, I believe, members of our species — increasingly a majority of us — spend thousands of precious hours of our lives staring at the screens on our TVs, monitors, “smart” phones, tablets, etc. This mind-numbing paralysis, I am convinced, harms the fundamental capacity of humans to dream and imagine. After visiting many areas of the world, doing speeches and seminars for hundreds of groups of people, and counseling many individuals over the years, I am convinced that the key formula for lives of happiness, passion, success and health consists of imagining and dreaming fused with a compelling urgency to act on making those dreams come true.
So it is that my beautiful wife, Charlotte, and I created a modest charitable activity derived from the adventures of a young girl in my two children’s books (“Evie and the Magic Telescope” and “Evie the Star Princess”). The idea behind the One Hundred Telescope Project is to donate modern robotic, computerized telescopes to elementary and middle schools. As I write this, our three-month-long effort has so far generated 10 telescope donations.
When children look through a telescope and immediately proclaim “Wow!” we have opened a window in their minds through which joy and amazement can enter. Caring parents and a great teacher can follow up and nurture that moment of magic and create something wonderful. Just go visit Carol Levy and the other fine volunteers at the Adirondack Sky Center to learn how important the word “Wow!” can really be!
If you would like information on how you can help in the One Hundred Telescope Project, all you have to do is e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, the observers of the Adirondack Sky Center invite you, your children and your friends to seek your own “Wow!” moments viewing celestial wonders through our telescopes at the Roll Off Roof Observatory. We are open to the public on the first and third Fridays of each month approximately one half-hour after sunset. Please come to learn the stars and constellations, and view through our telescopes at the Wilderness Above.
For updates and notices, check out our website at adirondackpublicobservatory.org and our Facebook page. On our public observing days, you can also call the RORO at 518-359-6317 to talk with one of our astronomers.
Phil Rosenberg is founder and president of The HR Doctor Inc.