The Family Scientist

me as boyIt’s true–I’m the family scientist, at least by temperament and inclination, hobbies and enduring passions. (Let me add–surprisingly for a religious believer, perhaps–my outlook on life.) I speak both of my biological family, and my family.

The only thing I don’t have is a degree in science. Someone else in my (genetic) family managed to graduate (last in the class, after six years) from a prestitious school, with an engineering degree; but this degree has stayed on the wall, as it were. (My degrees have gotten good and dirty from use!) The “official family scientist” has never done anything (scientific or anything else) of note.

I had the chemistry set, the armillary sphere, the microscope, the computer kit, the clock kit, the butterfly net, the UV lamp and rock pick and goggles, the books on dinosaurs and astronomy.¬† Good God in heaven, I’m an organist! What other proof do you need?

‘Science’ Person, on the other hand, had gender-appropriate toys like dolls/action figures, comic books, pop music, model cars, and sports idols. Not once–even once, by my recollection–was there a scientific toy or tool.

I lack patience at times, and didn’t always prove that the dots I’d connected actually did connect (they did, most of the time, and intuition loathes the bean counting process). My desk is still a mess of papers. What I needed to learn better was the careful documentation of every step of scientific learning. Organization is a virtue, generally.

Today, I passed some idle minutes online, looking at scientific toys and gadgets. I priced microscopes, slides, and stain; sorrowed over the closing of H. M. S. Beagle, a scientific store in Missouri; hunted for “chemistry sets for grownups” on Amazon, and so on.

Always, though, I came back to astronomy. I decided not to branch out any time soon, but to dig a lot deeper into my favorite scientific pastime.

My new Celestron refractor is doing well enough, though it needs several accessories. I ordered a Barlow lens–it arrived almost overnight from Agena; an Orion mount extender–it’s going to take another week; and have a skyglow filter and two more eyepieces on my want list, awaiting further paychecks. (I probably don’t have to wait, but I’m going to).

But there’s something I haven’t done, and that relates to the issue of patience I mentioned above. I haven’t started an observing log. So far, I’ve been dipping my toes into the water. Now my toes are wrinkled and I’m still not wet. Time for the plunge.

So I printed a few dozen observing logs courtesy the American Association of Amateur Astronomers and Astronomy magazine. I purged a binder of last Easter’s dreadful (pastor-chosen) music and recycled the sheets. Neatly hole-punched, the observing pages make a nice and inviting appearance. A jazzy printed cover slipped behind the clear sheet on the front and voil√†, my Astronomy Log.

All I need are some Star Trek stickers and I’ll be all set to meet my inner boy on happy terms.

Tonight, I expect clear skies. I will aim for Algieba, as Leo is up earlier. Perhaps Almaak and M42 again, as they’ve been my buddies lately. With my new Barlow I may go for Polaris’ dim companion once more. But whatever I look for, I will make sure to enter the log information completely and carefully.

Next up, spherical trigonometry.


About Jon

Keyboard artist, sacred musician, teacher, writer, working in New York City and State. Many interests include music theory and history, literature, astronomy, genealogy, philosophy and theology, gardening, and good food.
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