A Son and His Dad or Forget It All and Just Enjoy the Hobby
Tonight in my backyard, I had myr AR102 out and my 14" dob for to show off some of the late summer and early fall items to the neighborhood. I got set up and forgot how smooth the motions are in my 14" dob. Azmuith is incredibly smooth and I need to adjust one thing in the Altitude (clean the pads) to restore those motions.
After it was all done, my 22 year old son came out in the backyard and spent the rest of the evening identifying objects with me. He lived in Italy, mainly Rome and south of Rome for about 2 years and has been back for about 18 months from there. He works and goes to school full time right now so his schedule often doesn't allow for him to observe with me. In the past, before his time in Italy, he would join me and help out at Star Parties running one of my scopes and sometimes going observing with me. He is actually quite able with a scope.
This night I started with the typical summer objects. M13 came up first and he viewed it and said "Ah, the Great Glob in Hercules." I found out quickly he still knew his constellations. We then went to M57 and he easily identified it as the Ring Nebula. I expected to hear "One Ring to Rule them All" which is how we typically have identified that object in the past. Next up, M31 and friends and he took one look and said Andromeda which will join us in about 7 Billion years to make Milkomeda which reminds me of that old product, Milk of Magnesia.
After this I went over to Cassiopeia and he identified NGC 457 which to him is the Owl Open Cluster and we talked how the two eyes remind him of an owl. He then shared with me that we have an Owl living in the one of the pine trees behind our home which I didn't know. I thought I had caught some views of the owl at times but I am glad to have one near our home. After this my son easily identified the Double Double and Alberio and we ended up looking at the moon and blinding our non observing eye for a few moments after viewing it.
We then comapred views from the 14" with its premium secondary mirror and premium Zambuto mirror and moved to the AR102 and compared views. We discussed on the Moon was impacting the night sky and finished out night by packing up.
My son, a man in his own right, has always said he wanted my astronomy equipment when the day comes I cannot use it or I depart this existence. I realized tonight that yep, if he has time, he knows how to use each piece of equipment I own, from each telescope to my eyepieces, to collimation tools, to everything. What he may not know he will learn by doing. My hope is that when those days come as he uses the equipment, he is reminded of the time we spent together and perhaps he'll think of me and us. That is a comforting thought, a nice thought and one that I enjoy thinking about.
See for me, what I did tonight, sharing with my son, exchanging with my son, that is what is the most important to me. If you can't tell, I not only love my son, I like my son, I respect my son, I admire my son and my son in my opinion, will be a better man than I am. It should be that way. So if you have the time to observe with a loved one in the light polluted, moon polluted back yard, please don't hesitate, do it. The memories and discussions you make will remain with you and perhaps as mine are, remembered to be the best observing nights ever. Why? because we shared and exchanged together with others we love and who love us. THAT to me, is perhaps the greatest gift astronomy has ever given to me.
I love my dark skies, I love observing there. I love my faint fuzzies, and I love squeezing out details out of extremely faint objects. I like getting scared just a tad when I hear a noise when I am by myself I haven't heard before and as my rational mind takes over and runs through what that is. I love discovering and learning so much about this hobby. Yet it is the people I have observed with that linger with me, that I remember, that I miss if they no longer come and that I value and treasure. Don't worry about all the lists or items/objects you want to see. Don't worry about all you may want to learn and do. Sometimes, in the quiet of your own backyard, observe with someone you care about and just simply enjoy the experience, enjoy the views and truly enjoy each other. That is the best "magic" that happens with this hobby.