It all started when I was a teenager
For Christmas 1981 I received a simple seasonal sky chart and a "glow in the dark" poster of the northern sky. I thought they were pretty neat, but I had a rather difficult time making any sense of these strange "connect the dots" type charts! So the chart sat somewhere gathering dust, and the poster hung on the wall "glowing in the dark"!
Total lunar eclipse!
In the summer of 1982, by pure coincidence, I witnessed the entire total lunar eclipse of July 6th, while vacationing in Manitoulin Island (world's largest fresh water island!). During that vacation a lady showed me the big dipper... that was exactly the lead I needed to start figuring out the sky charts. When I got back to Toronto, I dusted off the sky chart and I started hunting down all the brighter stars and summer constellations. I also used binoculars to help me find those fainter stars that could not be seen in the light-polluted skies of Toronto, which were essential in "completing" a constellation.
The failed birthday gift
My birthday rolled around only a few weeks after seeing that amazing total lunar eclipse and sure enough I wanted a telescope! I had my eye on a "great" looking telescope in the Consumers Distributing catalogue - your typical white-tube low-quality refractor. So we went to the store to buy one, but, to my disappointment, it was out of stock. I remember calling every Consumers Distributing store in the Toronto area, but I came up empty handed. (that was probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me! One of those cheap telescopes could have totally killed my still developing interest in astronomy!!)
Edmund's Astroscan 2001
A couple of months later I still wanted a telescope. This time I got smarter and looked up some telescope stores in the yellow pages. By early October of 1982 I gathered up all my savings and purchased a used Astroscan (4.25-inch newtonian reflector) from the now defunct Scope Shop.
To this day I still think the Astroscan is a great beginner's telescope! It has a wide 3-degree field of view, it's very easy to use, it is extremely portable, and it sets up in seconds! All the right "ingredients" for a good first telescope.
RASC to the rescue!
In the fall of 1982 I attended my first RASC meeting (Toronto Centre) and immediately joined the group. I am still a member today.
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