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On a certain non-astronomy site, hitting arbitrary post counts means an attempt at a treatise on certain aspects of that enterprise (poker for those curious amongst you). There were some legendary posts created as a result, as well as a lot of misses. Here is my small attempt to not miss.

What topic to cover, given the extraordinary threads over the years I have read on this forum? I feel I don't have much to offer the seasoned veteran, and while I try my best with the beginners forums, I feel I am not much past that point myself most of the time. This therefore points to the thrust of my post #2000.


To take that well known authoritative source of knowledge, wikipedia, here is the definition of learning :

Learning is the act of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing existing, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences which may lead to a potential change in synthesizing information, depth of the knowledge, attitude or behavior relative to the type and range of experience.

For me, the biggest of the many gifts astronomy has given me has been the rekindling of that spirit. The more I look up at the skies and see with my own eyes what is just floating there, the more wonder and curiosity is invoked.

Following in the footsteps of generations of astronomers imparts a sense of discovery and wonder that we all have shared. It connects me to the sense of a common human experience going back as far as consciousness allows. Doing outreach events is one way that feeling is kept going, seeing the reactions of others who see the sights for the first time that may have become familiar friends to you, as is the attempt to locate those elusive Messier members and the more esoteric catalog objects.

Having had a keen interest in origin of self for most of my life, a large part of those investigations always revert or fall back on the nature of physical reality, so my intellectual pursuits have always had a strong Physics element. However, since I ended up with a telescope 3 years ago, this academic interest transformed into a practical one. Imaging and the need for precision and understanding has done nothing to dampen that feeling, quite the opposite. I have never been a contributor to the collective knowledge of humankind, and this somehow doesn't sit well with me as a lifelong consumer of knowledge, not a giver. All of a sudden, later in life than I ever could imagine as a child, I have been presented with a chance to do precisely that. There is so much that a humble lone amateur such as myself can do, that I can hardly bear to wait any longer.

Spectroscopy, Near Earth Object orbits, Variable star photometry, Exoplanet observations.

All activities that require amateur astronomer input. All possible with amateur equipment. From our own back gardens. Not necessarily everyones cup of tea, but this is truly an age of the amateur, not necessarily in discovery, but in the diligence and meticulous nature of scientific observation and cataloging which underpin modern scientific progress. I feel I am a passable imager of objects in the sense of creating pleasing images of the heavens, but the sensation of producing useful, scientific data and contributing in some tiny way to the collective human experience of understanding is beyond measure.

The more I learn, the more I want to learn. A positive cycle of interest and passion for something that could be classified as a mere hobby, but in reality is founded on the core questions of origin of self and our wondrous universe. I am so glad my insightful wife bought me a telescope.

Onwards to #3000.

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Inspiring post Matt. :icon_salut: It's been great to read your contributions and to see your interest develop. Look forward to lots more.

(All I managed on my thousandth post was "1000th post. yay."  :icon_biggrin: )

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