It finally happened I bought a big girl telescope. I know what you are asking yourself don’t you have a degree in Astronomy and teach it? Shouldn’t you have had one a long time ago? The answer to that question is no. You see my living situation was never suited to owning a telescope and the money was always elusive. Finally, after years of apartment living we moved to a house that has a nice sized backyard. However, I didn’t immediately run out and buy a telescope because that money thing hung over my head pretty heavily, plus I had no enabler.

Fast forward a couple years to November 2012 when I was asked to volunteer for the Science Olympiad and run the high school section of the Astronomy competition (ooohh that was fun.) I was nosing around looking for some more info for the competition when I ran into the enabler to buy the telescope. That enabler is the American Association of Variable Star Observers, AAVSO , which I believe were partial sponsors of the Science Olympiad Astronomy section. Anyway, I thought to myself I should join this group since that is what I did my masters thesis on and I am really interested in variable stars. So I joined. Little did I know what kind of awesome I got myself into.

From their mission statement “The AAVSO is an international non-profit organization of variable star observers whose mission is to enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.” A whole giant post should be dedicated to this group but for now you really need to go to their website and check it out (AAVSO). So how did all this get me a telescope. Well I took an online class that they offered to get me started (a very nicely ran course by Mike Simonsen) and once I started to do observations to submit (yes even in the freaking city you can do this) I just felt like my binoculars were not really giving me what I wanted. So I did some research and some large soul searching (damn money.) After the realization that this telescope was a lot like a baby and that there will never be the perfect financially sound time to get one my wonderful husband clicked on the golden shiny amazon button. Three to four days later my special delivery was here and I carefully picked her out of her box to fasten her to the tripod. No she is not gigantic by any means nor is she a beginner telescope but she is perfect for me.

It took about a month for her to see first light since the stupid weather would not cooperate at all. Have a drought problem just send me there, I will buy a telescope, and it will rain constantly for a month! At first light we saw the rings of Saturn and we formally named her Bell after Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. I have seen the rings of Saturn in a much larger telescope before but seeing it through my telescope almost put me into tears. I am so happy. Last night I did my first observation that was submitted to the AAVSO with Bell (chi cyg). I also showed Craig Albireo which he had never seen before. It was wonderful. So we spent the non-existent money but it made me so happy and excited. We only have this one lifetime why wait to do those things that you are most passionate to do. Thank you Craig and thank you enabler..AAVSO.