American Heirlooms - September 2019




As a child, I remember the wonder and excitement of 1986, as Halley’s Comet shot past Earth for the first time in 75 years. It was a little cloudy that night, but we still managed to see the comet. Now that I have a family of my own, we’ve been expanding our fascination with the stars. We have found it handy to use star maps and pen-sized laser pointers to communicate and illustrate what is happening thousands of light-years away from Earth. Looking for constellations is another fun way to get the whole family involved in stargazing. These

darkness to get a full view of the heavens.

Of course, one of the biggest deterrents is the cost of the equipment. Good telescopes that offer a crystal-clear picture can carry a hefty price tag. It’s unfortunate you can’t pick up a decent telescope for a good bargain at your local department store because what they are selling usually doesn’t provide a good view. You have to get 6- to 10-inch telescopes to begin to pick up a quality view with accurate tracking, which is another important feature. That’s where you will see the real benefit from your investment.

connections were formed generations ago, and they can help stargazing novices find their way across the sky. It’s a vast landscape, and the Creator’s design is immaculate. Anything that makes it a little easier to understand is useful. Children are naturally curious, and, as I dug deeper into the beauty of the heavens, my children have taken an interest in the hobby as well. I notice that as I admire a star map, my children look over my shoulder, asking questions and pointing out what they find on the map. Bethany and I have also taken our children to the planetarium and provided

them with magazines on the heavens and the stars.

But, for all the downsides and reasons not to stargaze, there’s a powerful reason to keep doing it: the amazement of what you will see. The Creator’s design has helped slaves on their way to freedom and guided ships back to land. It has produced fantastic images of eclipses, comets, and precisely timed phenomena that are once-in-a-lifetime occurrences. My family and I will brave the cold, the bugs, and the bills for an opportunity to see a marvel of the heavens. Those are memories you can't put a price tag on.

To be fair, we understand why people wouldn’t want to go stargazing. Of course, there’s the struggle of having to stay up late when you have to get up in the morning for work, school, or church. Summertime brings out the bugs, dangerous weather, and heat, too. Then, in the winter, you’re dealing with cold temperatures and blustery winds. You’re always going to be helpless to the weather and cloudy nights when it comes to stargazing. On the East Coast, we struggle with light pollution as well. You need total

–Ethan Zimmerman

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