Showing and explaining to others the objects that can be viewed through a telescope is one of the most rewarding aspects of being an amateur astronomers. This is especially true when it involves introducing the world of astronomy to kids. This past summer, my 9 year old sister Abby was out with me observing some sights one evening. Before we finished up the night, I let her take control of the scope and she moved it around, finding some interesting targets along the way, all by herself.
Abby took command of the 40 lb dobsonian telescope like a seasoned pro. After going over some basic instructions, she began to move the scope around, hunting down some pretty impressive targets. Using a low powered eyepiece, Abby started off with three bright stars. Following this, she gave several attempts before successfully viewing an airplane as it zipped through the finder scope’s field of view. The main events of the night, however, were the Moon and Saturn both of which were partially obstructed by trees and not easy to spot. To her delight, Abby was able to make out the rings of Saturn as well as a few of it’s Moons.
Astronomy can be a wonderful way to introduce children and adults alike to the fascinating aspects of science. Abby’s night out with the telescope helped to make the universe in which we live a little more real and exciting for her. I encourage all amateur astronomers to reach out to others and relinquish the reign of control over your telescope to observers of all ages. They may surprise you and themselves as to what they can find with the nudge of a scope and the will to explore.