I’ve wanted to be an astronomer before I even knew anyone could get paid to study the stars. From the magical moment I first glimpsed Saturn’s rings through a Kmart special telescope in my small-town backyard, and ran to gather my family and neighbors to share the wondrous sight, I’ve been on a mission to communicate my passion for astronomy to everyone I meet. After that first sight of Saturn, I followed the Apollo Moon landings, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series and the voyages of Star Trek with equal fascination. After high school, I scored the holy grail of local jobs: 40 hours a week at the local automotive factory. But I never stopped reading about science. One day, after explaining the ins and outs of relativity to a friend, he said “You should go to college.” I scoffed at the idea, because no one in my family had attended college, but the comment planted a seed in my mind.
So I applied to my local state university and much to my surprise, when I took “Introduction to Physics” I realized I knew most of that stuff already! College changed my life: it was like the tree-lined country road leading to the university was a portal to another universe where I actually fit in! Now I get to share that feeling of exploring the universe with my students and people who attend my public lectures, which I have been doing for 30 years. One evening I introduced three generations of a family to the planet Saturn, including their 80 year old grandmother who had never seen it before. Seeing her smile with delight, I still feel like the ten year old boy I once was, bursting with enthusiasm to see more, higher, farther, of this spectacular universe we share.
What Drives You to #AchieveMore?