"NEXT STEPS"

During my final years in high school and my years at college, I continued to use my trusty home made 6-inch newtonian telescope. During these years, my primary guides to the night sky were the monthly sky map that appeared in the centerfold of SKY & TELESCOPE magazine (which I received as a result of my membership in the Kansas City Astronomy Club) and a book called FIELD BOOK OF THE SKIES by William Tyler Olcott, which was first published in 1929. By today's (2021) standards, this little book seems very trite and dated, but for a teenager who was brand new to astronomy, it offered a wealth of information. For sentimental reasons, this book still has an honored place on my astronomical bookshelf.

     In high school and college, my primary observing targets were the planets, especially Jupiter and Saturn,

the Moon, double stars, and the brighter star clusters and nebulae. Because of the limitations of the small finder scope on my telescope, as well as the crudity of the star maps in FIELD BOOK OF THE SKIES and SKY & TELESCOPE, I was limited in my ability to find fainter deep sky objects. But I was constantly amazed by what I was seeing through my 6-inch scope, and with every observing session, my skill in using it improved.

From some of the experienced observers in my club, I began to pick up the skill of "star hopping"....following a trail of naked-eye stars to the location of a fainter deep sky object.

     Several years after graduation from college, the demands of my job resulted in my astronomical hobby and my telescope being put "on the shelf" for a number of years. Although I wasn't actively observing on a regular basis, I did still retain my membership in my local club, which was now known as The Astronomical Society of Kansas City.  They held monthly "star parties", and I was able to attend some of these, which gave me an opportunity to observe through the telescopes of fellow members. Eventually, in 1973, TWO EVENTS occurred which resulted in a "jump start" of my astronomical activities: FIRST, due to my membership in the astronomy club, I was still receiving the monthly issues of SKY & TELESCOPE. I started noticing full-page Ads by a company called CELESTRON PACIFIC, featuring their newly introduced 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope which they called the C-8.  The more I read about this scope, the more I wanted one. However, I was hesitant to send $800 to a company I was unfamilar with for a telescope that sounded too good to be true. SECOND, strictly by chance, I met a neighbor who had recently retired, and had finally realized a lifelong ambition: he had purchased a commercially made telescope.  The rub? he knew nothing about astronomy or telescopes, so he needed help with his new toy. Finding out that I had experience with telescopes, he invited me over to help him set up his new scope. IMAGINE MY EXCITEMENT WHEN I LEARNED THAT THE SCOPE HE'D PURCHASED WAS A CELESTRON C-8!