I realize my username is spacefem but that was created a million years ago when I was young and thought I'd work at nasa because all the best engineers go into space exploration, right? I have not lived up to my name. I have not spent time looking at the stars.
this year I have been more observant. with human spaces closed, my museum is the outdoors. the trees outside my window, the neighbor's landscaping, and the night sky. I run before work when I'm motivated. I wake up around 5, throw on clothes, and love the first breath of night air. While I run I look at the stars, especially orion, and his accessories.
Anyway seeing saturn made me remember that I don't own a telescope and always thought I SHOULD have one, was just scared because the stakes are high, I've read that the wrong telescope can be crappy and kill a kid's enthusiasm for astronomy FOREVER. But what do they know? Growing up, we had a telescope at our house, we'd look at the moon and saw Haley's comet. Dad would do all the setting up, then say "look here!" and I loved it. We didn't have expensive things. Maybe I just loved being outside at night?
I offered $100 to a facebook marketplace seller for a Tasco Luminova 675 x 114mm Reflector Telescope, met him in a parking lot after work, and presented my family with our evening's entertainment.
I referred to a few youtube clips on telescope alignment but largely ignored their advice about getting my telescope perfectly level and locked down. there isn't much in our neighborhood to align to anyway, I used some swaying trees to line up the finder scope. bad idea. but whatever. soon enough the moon filled our eyepiece. josie loved it, olive was thrilled to see all the tiny craters. the darker it got the more delighted we became blinding ourselves with it. then marc took a turn. he found jupiter by standing behind the telescope, getting it to the right lateral angle, then adjusting up and down until it was in the semi-aligned viewfinder. by some windy tree alignment miracle, we adjusted the telescope slightly and there it was in the real thing! we couldn't see its detail, stripes or storms or colors, but we did see its moons, like tiny dots on a string, which I was not expecting.
Finally I found saturn. it is too far away. 900 million miles, friends. it was a round blurry circle. jupiter is halfway between us, just a hop over an asteroid belt, so much brighter and more interesting. we practiced going back and forth, both of us getting better and faster at finding tiny bright objects in the night sky.
now we have this telescope in our living room and I think it looks nice there, and we can get it out whenever we want and keep learning about what's above us. I should show josie how to line it up, so she grows up knowing this life skill. I obviously need a moon filter, because the next night josie asked to look at the moon again, this time it was fuller and brighter and even more blinding. but whatever we do it will come in handy, and I'm proud of us for actually looking at space.