I got my first telescope when I was six years old (I think). It was a Tasco and it served me for many decades. At Launch Pad last week, we got to look though a bunch of “small telescopes” and a couple bigger ones. It reminded me of how much fun I had looking through my telescopes. I no longer have the original Tasco that I got back in 1978 or so, but I have one that Kelly got for me a few years back.
This afternoon, on a break, I grabbed one of my old journals (pre-blog, pre-Evernote) and flipped through it looking for a time in the mid-1990s when I once again started using my telescope. I found it pretty quickly. Here is a page from December 20, 1997 (one year to the day after Carl Sagan passed away) when I went out onto my small balcony in Studio City, CA and looked up the planets that were visible. I also sketched what I saw:
I’m looking forward to the point when the Little Man and the Little Miss are old enough to be able to look through a telescope and have some concept of what they are seeing. It can be a life-changing event. I think there is a good chance that if I had not looked through that telescope in the summer of 1978, I might not have become a science fiction writer. Some other kind of writer, maybe, but not science fiction.
And that would have been a shame.