Saturday, February 22, 2020

The One Thing

I began my adventures into astronomy in the late 70's in a state of almost perfect ignorance. Ignorance not being a derogatory term, but simple fact. This is true of any endeavor we seek to explore, especially at a young age. Those initial sparks that begin the quest, like the proverbial butterfly effect, have grown more influential exponentially through time. Like time itself, now can be traced to the beginning.

Rediscovering observing at fifty-one 

As I ventured to see this vast universe, observable from our familiar perch, the universe also grew within me. Now decades later, having been both an observer and photographer of the starry realm, I recognize that the two have always been competing with each other. Photography is a means of capturing, for others to see, a glimpse of what is not normally observable. Observing – the simple act of seeing first hand what may be held within the scope of human vision. Under dark skies, a surprising amount come to find out. Eyes are the most useful tool in exploring astronomical phenomena. Stars, clusters of stars, nebulae and galaxies, just to name but a few.

Fast forward forty-some-odd years since I first peered through a telescope and hence forth hundreds (thousands?) of hours at the telescope, behind the astro-camera, binocular, or unaided eye. The trove of films, notebooks and memories distill down to the one thing.

What a long time under the night sky looks like

Perhaps it is age now and more recently my health limiting my abilities. I've tried to rekindle the technical passions required to photograph the night sky. I do feel my ability to participate in the modern methods of the craft much beyond my ken. A veteran astronomer now taken to reminiscing. My seemingly productive years now behind. I am left wondering – what now?

The one thing that is left, is time. Time to put it all in perspective. Time to once again, observe, occasionally photograph, to write, and to put it out there.

There are stories to tell.


  1. Hi Jim. I wonder if film is actually the best way to photograph the heavens these days. Given the high ISOs of digital backs and the way digital sensors respond to light and edge contrast. Dunno tho. I'm sure the images would look very different.

    Also, like you I've had passions that have fallen by the wayside. My house is full of furniture I've built, but haven't been on the table saw for a couple years now. I have a closet full of fly fishing gear that doesn't get wet more than once every couple years. We just go on, don't we, and take our passions as they come (and go). Best of luck.

  2. Film certainly offers a unique rendering of the night sky. It's very limited given the lack of proper emulsion available today. I use digital, and sometimes I marvel at its ability. Some day I will have to put the film away as the space requirements in my small abode render me to struggle with it.

    Interesting isn't it. Passions can shift in older age. I shoot mostly abstract images along the rocky roast of Maine now. Does it really matter? Rocks, stars, or anything else?

    Things are becoming consolidated now. Use your experience for fly fishing, photography, and wood working. Evolve with those experiences. Where does it lead? Only you can answer that question.

    Best of luck and thank you for chiming in.