This week has been a tremendous one for me personally. I completed an advance degree I've been working on for some time, while finishing up my administrative license for education as well. Well, since last July this has been an extremely time consuming set of projects and finally, I am done. No more classes, no more papers, no more putting off observing because I know I have to get stuff done for whatever was required at the time, usually multiple things. Astronomy, as much as I love it, had to take a second place over this as did a couple of things I had volunteered to do. Regrets? None at all as I believe personally that one of the most important things we can do throughout our lives is to keep learning, to keep our minds active and engaged. It is one of the things I LOVE about astronomy.
Now having said that, I tried out another site for blogging, and I do very much prefer in many ways how that site is set up, but I have decided to simply keep my blogging stuff on Astronomy right here. It is easier for those who follow and have asked when I am coming back (well, yep, be warned, I'm BACK) since most people know about it.
I will be updating the blog each week now, and have about five entries including some sketching I've done in the last month to share. I hope for the new moon period in December to get out to the West Desert of Utah for an evening of observing (I LOVE these nights when you can get to the field, set up at dusk, observe after cool down from 6:00pm til 11:00pm, break down, go home, unload, be in bed by 12:30a.m. and have a normal day the next day!).
I also have been using the AR102mm ES refractor in the backyard for convience and am going through the Messier catalog with that scope and doing some sketching with that scope. I much prefer a dark site, period, but that little scope does a really decent job and it allows for a quick set up, cool down, use and take down on a work night. To be honest, it has been my only use of astronomy for the last couple of months due to weather and scheduling conflicts and due dates for school.
So what am I going to do with my time? I have a new venture that I am putting together and is coming together quite well that I will be announcing soon I hope so look for that. It is 100% astronomy related. I have my dark site observing I will be returning to on a frequent basis. I've lost 68 pounds and will be losing the next sixth pounds over the next year (now through 2015). I feel stronger as I work out and exercise, my diet is following the Omni Diet as found at this link over at WebMd. Basically it was a major lifestyle change. Some would find it hard but having had to make a major lifestyle change 9 years ago when I was diagnosed as having Celiac disease and could not eat gluten, this lifestyle change fits right in with it. I do not have any health issues on the diet, and I feel so much better on it eating healthy and avoiding those radical chemicals that really mess with one's health. Food is no longer a crutch for me, it is a tool to help me do what I love, be active in life. That includes astronomy. The biggest thing, no more sugar drinks, just water and sparkling mineral water which includes Le Croix which I really like.
So I have work, time with Lynda, time for projects like cleaning up my office and telescope room and other projects that I need to do (I cleaned the garage out again over Thanksgiving though and that helped!). The bottom line is that I am anxious to be back and will be sharing things like a review of the 9mm and 20mm Explore Scientific 100 degree eyepieces (I kept one, sold the other); a comparison of the Delos vs PentaxXW lines as I have the 17.3, 12, 10 and 8 Delos to the 20mm, 14mm, 10mm, 7mm, 5mm and 3.5mm Pentax XW. Part of that is a head to head on the 10mm Delos vs 10mm Pentax XW. I have a comparison of the DGM OIII, NB and H Beta filters compared to their Thousand Oak's filters of the same type comparison coming up. I also have a new power source for powering items in the field to review, some programs and books that I have gotten and will have time to read now, a review of my eyepiece cases (new ones for me) that I am using and my experiences with my Lunt Solar Telescope and some other equipment I haven't mentioned.
So I believe I have a lot to contribute so stay tuned and of all things, it will be my observations and reflections of everything that is me that perhaps has the most meaning for me. I am too a point with the arrival of a new telescope that I am content with my own personal inventory of equipment to use in the hobby. I will share what works FOR ME, what my opinion is of things, but I would remind everyone that my experience is and will not be everyone's experience. What I see and observe in an eyepiece, or what I do and observe with a telescope is what I choose to do and there are reasons for my choices. You can read and then the best thing about this hobby is that it is in so many ways a reflection of what life is like. The hobby like work, family, other activities or organizations we commit our time to, will suck up as much of our time as we give it. Maintaining a proper balance in my opinion is critical. Equipment can be an endless quest but some of the best experiences I have had, have come not from what some may consider top end equipment be that telescopes, eyepieces, filters, etc. Sometimes just getting out wherever one is and enjoying the sky with whatever one has, is the best thing for enjoying the hobby.
Bluntly, I have learned that I can get so caught up in the hobby and what I have and how good it is, that I forget that most important thing is getting out, enjoying what I do have and can use at that moment and making the most of that time. That to me is what life is all about. It is about being content with where you are, what you have and using it and enjoying as you plan for the future. I love astronomy, there should be no doubt about that. I love being in the field in ALL seasons when there is a clear sky. However I know from going through these last six months that astronomy is only one aspect of who I am, and that I had to put it aside for that time as I finished with more pressing and yes, for that time, more important things. Lynda lost her mother during this time and above all things, it was important for me to be with her, and I have to admit, after 26 1/2 years of marriage (yep, I appreciate there are many of you out there who have done it longer but 26.5 isn't too shabby in today's world) I really do enjoy, even above this hobby, just spending time with my sweetheart. She is the moving force behind the project I mentioned that I will be announcing soon. She is incredible and this last summer, Lynda went observing with me twice! That in and of itself was just terrific and I LOVED having my wife with me. We are making plans for travel as our 21 almost 22 year old daughter has moved out into her own place, and our 20 soon to be 21 year old son will be returning from living in Italy for the last two years and will become busy with work and his own college education. Part of that travel is a trailer and a way to haul one of the scopes so as we visit and stay in the national parks we visit, and sleep in our trailer, I can set up and observe.
So whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, no holiday or another holiday, in the spirit of the season I wish you Happy Holidays. I hope that instead of seeking something, we look to our better natures and give something to someone in need, who is less fortunate than ourselves. May we look at the heavens above and be amazed and dazzled by what we view, what we learn and the great expanse of space with all of its marvelous creations. It is good to be back.