"Why do you do this?" is a question I am frequently asked. My answer is generally that I love astronomy and I am a people person. These two things energize my life and why not do both at the same time! Astronomy has opened new and wonderful experiences in my life, brought comfort, satisfaction, a knowledge and understanding of nature. Why not share these things. Someone once said "share out of what you possess not what you do not". Midlife has away of bringing reality to one so I quit trying to be what I was not and be what I am. Part of my adult growth has been connecting with the truth of who I am and living my life out of this without a second thought. My outreach is a reflection of what I am and what is important to me. Which brings us to this encounter on Monday evening which may explain my passion with all of this astronomy outreach activity.
I had a crowd of 15 or so surrounding my outreach post anticipating a view of a early evening Luna. The air was buzzing with conversation as folks researched the moon posters on my table with questions and comments already filling the gathering like a important press conference. And there in the midst of this small crowd was Marta waiting patiently for the astro guy to get his scope prepared for the evening activity. What stood out about her was the mile wide smile on her face and with a quiet voice asking with a childlike quality " Oh I want to see the moon!" If only more adults could be kids once in a while! Sometimes folks will approach my gig with a great deal of seriousness and some are disappointed that I am not doing something serious like research, or photography - no this is fun astronomy here people! Astronomy to capture your imagination, wonder and bring the kid out in you!
What was really funny about all this was Marta's demeanor seemed to infect the rest of the crowd! Walls were coming down and folks started to loosen up!
Marta approached the scope with a reverence like she knew something special was about to occur. Yes she was transported to a world only dreamed about or seen on the television set or in a book. As she looked I encouraged her to "Take your time and ignore the line in back of you this is your time and your moon to explore " and soon I heard "This is so beautiful so wonderful " " I can not believe I am seeing this " " The mountain tops look like they are covered in silver!" More she viewed the bigger the smile and " This is so wonderful I feel like I'm there!" As she stepped away a tear rolled down her cheek and than another and another as she was obviously moved by the whole experience. She then went straight to the back of the line to await another opportunity! The folks waiting behind her watched all this unfold and soon the whole line was buzzing with anticipation with the next 30 minutes being filled with laughter and excited folks at the scope.
What will happen when she sees Saturn?