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A long time ago in a galaxy far,

far away....

 

Wait, that's not it.

 

Hi. My name is Geoff Goins and I have been obsessed with the sky at night since I was 5 years old. I remember my Grandfather trying to show me the Big Dipper one night from the dark skies in the mountains in North Bend Washington.

I had no idea what he was talking about.

I remember him telling me to look for one of those things you use to get water from a well . I was looking for a bucket. I had no clue what a dipper was.

Well , I've learned a lot more about the sky since then. I now know what the dipper in Ursa Major looks like, as well as most of the other constellations. I have been studying the night sky and reading everything I could get my hands on about the sky since I started reading. I remember while all the other boys were in the library reading sports books and the girls were reading horse books I was reading science books. The 900 reference section is where I belonged.

I bought my first telescope with paper route money in 5th grade and with it saw the Moon and the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and looked through many neighbors windows (ah come on, I was a 5th grader!). I even joined the Tacoma Astronomical Society. But beyond these few objects, my little $35.00 Gilbert 3 inch telescope didn't show much. The optics weren't very good and the mount was just plain terrible. I still remember the blood blister I got on my finger when folding it up. It had all these knobs to turn and tighten, which I did, and for some reason it never worked quite right after that. I eventually sold it at a garage sale.

But I didn't loose my interest in the night sky. Between the 6th and 7th grade I spent every night form May to September "sleeping" outside. I was really learning the sky. I saw the passing of satellites, learned the constellations and learned about the Earths rotation around the Sun. I saw the movement of the Moon across the sky and it's changing phases. Venus as the morning and evening "star".

I also learned about light pollution. I had to prop up our picnic table on it's side to block a neighbors "insecurity" light.

Still a voracious reader through junior high and high school, I subscribed to science and astronomy magazines and still read many books, but other wonders of the world like cars (17 Volvo's and counting) and, how unusual, girls, caught my attention and I put aside the night sky for a little while.

After high school I started college and spent a summer working at Mt. Rainier National Park where I met my wife, Ellen, who came from a little town in New Mexico named Red River. We moved back there and started our life together. One night, a story on Astronomy Day came on the news and I related to Ellen that I loved astronomy and used to even have a telescope. Ellen remembered her brother was going to build a telescope in high school and that I should give him a call and see what ever happened to it. I did. The parts to build a 6-inch telescope were still on a shelf in his parents house. Within 2 months I had finished building it and rekindled a journey into a love affair with the sky.

Since then I have upgraded several times to larger and larger scopes until the 24" monster I have now. I also work as a National Park Service "Dark" Ranger, teach astronomy at UNM Taos campus, providing public interpretive night sky programs, and am in the process of completing a Natural Resources Management and Sciences degree, as well as having read dozens of books, hundreds of magazines and spent thousands of hours under the stars with my eyes, friends old and new, and telescopes. I travel all around the country sharing my love of astronomy with anyone who has an interest in what's "out there".

I hope I can impart a little of how I feel about the sky to you.

Geoff Goins

 

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