My two favorite TV characters growing up. I would dream about being in their world of clay partaking in their adventures, dueling with the Blockheads, model car racing, toy trucks, entering into books, cookies & milk from my loving mother, dad's sound advice and timely rescues from trouble. Can they teach us something about backyard astronomy?
Be flexible: this pursuit requires patience both with yourself & nature AND SOMETIMES WITH OTHER PEOPLE. You have the rest of your life to learn this subject so pace yourself. Weather will not always be your friend so use the web, read a good astronomy book. The Moon is not your enemy - learn it and unlock it's treasures. I have missed events over the years due to sickness, weather, broken telescopes, just plain bad luck. Don't worry things tend to come around! These two characters could shape shift in any situation they were in. Can we?
Use what you have: yes you heard me, use what is right at hand at this moment. We can maximize what we have available to us. You want a bigger, better scope? Great - but "max observe" the one you have. I have surveyed the sky with all kinds of stuff and I always get something good no matter what I am looking through. This includes the sky conditions, moon cycle etc. Maybe I can see only a few bright stars, OK pull out a book or do a online search and learn about these stars. Star names and astronomical history are one of my favorite things to study when seeing is less than optimal. Yes we can do great observing with simple equipment and gear, star wheels, binoculars, a book in hand. I have never owned high end stuff and after all these years I still have not "max observed" with what I have. These clay guys always always got into trouble when they did not appreciate and use what they had and were.
Approach with childlike wonder: you have nothing to prove to anyone. The race here is not for the swift, the smart or educated. It is your pursuit. I love learning, but I really like to be inspired. As an adult this is my time to go back in time and touch a part of my life that will not go away. And if you are of the swift, smart, educated ranks be a kid from time to time and you will enjoy yourself even more. My claymation buds of the past where not afraid to try new things and go places and did not loose their sense of adventure.
Place yourself out there: when I observe I imagine being there. What is the view like from the center of a planetary nebula, or from a moon of a gas giant? How many stars can I see inside a globular cluster? What is the view like from the surface of the neutron star - very round and smooth I imagine as I am flattened out by immense gravity like Gumby under a giant rolling pin! Go there!
Get some help when stuck: so important as we all get stuck from time to time. I have fond memories of folks that have helped my development in the past and those that do this now. Both Gumby and Pokey depended upon each other and a whole host of characters through their clay world exploits. I need the experience, and skill of others to help me along too.
Have big eyes: these two TV characters have big eyes in portion to their bodies. When looking take your time in your viewing, unless you are in marathon mode! Let your eyes gather the light from these far flung vistas and give time for your brain and imagination to make a picture for you. It is outstanding to say the least what you can see over time and with consistency.
Share it with another: oh yes my friends share it! I realize not everyone is a people person but sometimes we get in the way of others development because of our own selfishness instead of taking some time and possible inconvenience sharing the universe with others. We all need personal time & pursuits but have you shared this with another? A little effort goes a long way and may change a life and you may make a new friend in the process and discover new things about yourself as we never grow in isolation. I would always be amused when Gumby would divided himself up into several little balls at one time, we have the potential to experiment with ourselves and develop other areas of our lives. I find that there is always plenty of me to go around. I enjoy to no end sharing what I have learned, showing what I have seen, spreading a little cheer to someone else. All of us have our ways and can find ways of sharing our experience, passion, expertise, and resources with another - just do it!