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A couple weeks ago I had a very pleasant surprise while visiting my soccer bar in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. I was at Slaínte watching the United State’s first World Cup 2014 qualifier match and upon leaving I saw something I did not expect. A blue Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope on a fork mount was set up right on the brick steps of the south end of Broadway Square! I immediately told my friend and his brother that I’d meet them back at his house to play some FIFA but I absolutely had to check out this display. The telescope was an 8″ SCT and was owned by a man named Herman Heyn. Herman is an elderly man who brings his scope out on weekends whenever the weather is clear. He goes by the name of “Baltimore’s Street Corner Astronomer” and has been setting up his telescopes in Baltimore since 1987! He is rather well-known among Fells Point regulars and residents by his blue SCT scope with the words “HAV-A-LOOK” printed on the side of the optical tube. Herman delights in letting people peer into his scope and see sights such as Saturn, Jupiter, the moon, Venus, the Pleiades, and some of the Messier open clusters. Most of the passerby are intrigued by the telescope having never had the experience before. While talking with Herman, I watched about ten people look into the scope and they all had the typical wow-factor reaction. The object of the night’s observation was Saturn and the awestruck visitors were simply delighted to have seen Saturn for the first time in their lives! However, for every believer there is a doubter. Several people passing by tried to convince me it was a fake and that we were just looking at a picture of Saturn taped over the aperture. Those poor people. They’ve yet to experience the joy of gazing at a beautiful ringed planet almost one billion miles away.
While talking to Herman about our shared interest in astronomy I found out that he’d been interested in the subject since the 8th grade when his science teacher taught an astronomy lesson. I quickly developed a respect and admiration for Herman and his devotion to spreading the word about astronomy. His desire to spread his passion to random people is admirable and I wish there were more people like him in our hobby! After taking a quick peek at Saturn at about 130x I dropped the remaining couple dollars from my wallet into his donations hat and regrettably had to leave. I spent about 20 minutes talking with Herman and I left very encouraged by the encounter! I hope to go down to Fells Point again very soon and hopefully HAV-ANOTHER-LOOK! Check out Herman’s website at hermanheyn.com!
May the Force be with you! Or in today’s case, “May the 4th be with you!” Yes that’s right, today is Star Wars Day! Why? No other reason than because “the 4th” sounds like “the Force” if you have a lisp. Today we remember the iconic film franchise in all its glory. I know I’m a bit young to really reminisce about Star Wars being born in 1988, five years after Return of the Jedi was released, but I practically grew up on Star Wars. I remember when my dad bought the Star Wars trilogy set on VHS when I was probably about five years old. I watched them ALL THE TIME. The space adventure captured my attention and is probably part of the reason I am interested in space and astronomy now. The films were unlike any other action/adventure movie out there, being set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. I probably didn’t even know what a galaxy was when I was five but I knew I wanted to go there and see Tattooine and Yavin IV. I wanted to fight against the Empire on a Rebel starship, fire proton torpedoes down the Death Star’s maintenance shaft. Most of all I wanted a real lightsaber! Those things are freaking cool! As a kid I didn’t understand all the thematic elements involved in the film, from the underdog, to the good vs. evil concept, and the faith aspect of the Force and the Jedi.
My love for the films grew in elementary school when my friend Bobby and I would sit at the lunch table and peruse through books like Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels. There were hours of endless reading to be had from books like these, and read them we did! My friend Mitch whom I met when I was seven also had a fond love of Star Wars from an early age and that allowed our friendship to blossom. We both collected action figures and Legos like no one else we knew. Almost every Saturday we went over Mitch’s house and played with the action figures and spaceship toys. We even played baseball games with the toys as the players.
I saw my first Star Wars film in the theater in 1999 when Episode I was released. There was nothing like hearing the THX intro and the 20th Century Fox fanfare played in mind-blowing Dolby Digital! The opening scroll was just enchanting to see it on the big screen for the first time! I often imagine what the generation before me must have felt and experienced seeing the original films for the first time. My love for the franchise was complete when Episode III came out in 2005 bringing the epic saga full circle. Knowing this was the last Star Wars film ever was a bit sad, but I was thankful for the opportunity to see it and to have been a fan my whole life.
I can’t believe that it’s been 35 years since A New Hope was released! Not that I was even alive that long ago, but it’s remarkable that the films still have a very devoted and engaged fan base. The Star Wars franchise has truly taken its place among film legends. My hope is that the younger generation, and those to come will be able to experience Star Wars like I did and see it for what it truly is: a legendary and innovative saga. I’ll close with the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Remember, the Force will be with you, always.”
I've been supporting the Earth Hour movement since it was introduced to me by a friend in 2009. I even attended the events held in SM Megamall last 2011 and 2010, where the shopping center dim its lights in support for the cause.
You may ask, What Is Earth Hour? Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF (
This is off topic and it will be short. Today the internet is on strike. Many popular website such as Wikipedia and Reddit which use user submitted content to thrive are blacked out today in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Basically, these laws if passed would give the executive branch of the government the authority to block or even shut down websites that have potentially pirated material that violates copyright laws. This will in effect censor the internet, the only truly free place left in the world where humans can share knowledge, information, and a video of themselves singing “Moves Like Jagger” on YouTube.
How can a government regulate something that is global and theoretically doesn’t exist? What is the internet besides a bunch of invisible 1′s and 0′s that float above our heads bouncing off of satellites in space? Basically, the internet belongs to the world and we should be free to use it however we please. If America is truly the land of the free we CANNOT allow these bills to pass into law! Please use Google’s petition to contact your lawmakers and let them know that you DO NOT support SOPA or PIPA. The internet is counting on you!
Smartphones really can do some amazing things! The latest app I downloaded to my iPhone is the Mars Images app from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It uses the comm uplink from the long-lived Martian rover Opportunity and downloads them directly to your phone or tablet! How cool is that?! The Opportunity rover is currently “hibernating” during the harsh Martian winter but there is a pretty large cache of images already stored. There will also be the opportunity to see images from JPL’s newest rover Curiosity when it arrives on the Red Planet in August. You can download the app for your iOS device or Android.
I’ll admit this is completely off-topic but it’s too good and far too important to not write about it. The NFL Playoffs are here again! We’ve seen a lot of strange playoff rituals over the years including the playoff beard which has made a HUGE comeback in recent years. Brian Wilson of the San Francisco Giants grew one of the most menacing playoff beards of all time two years ago. Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas grew a very robust neck sweater this past spring for the the Stanley Cup playoffs, and even the Baltimore Ravens’ own Joe Flacco grew his own playoff beard last season but I’ll admit it was more like playoff scruff. But this season Wacco Flacco is at it again! This time around he’s more groomed and more intimidating looking than ever! This is the year of the playoff Fu Manchu! Other NFL greats have rocked massive mustaches in years of yore including Aaron Rodgers, Joe Namath, Fred Biletnikoff, Mike Ditka, Bubba Smith, and Dave Wannstedt.
The Fu Manchu has started a craze in Baltimore and now for a limited time only you can own your piece of Baltimore football history with the Purple Fanstache! The adhesive purple felt mustache looks just like your favorite quarterback own facial dressing! They’re only $5 over at http://www.fanstache.com and for every Fanstache that is sold $1 will be donated to the Living Classrooms Foundation! So head on over to
An interesting ongoing story from NASA, courtesy of Space.com, is that the sale of several items at an auction in Dallas, TX have been suspended pending a claim against the items for which NASA believes are still owned by the space administration. Of the more than 200 space related artifacts sold, the most expensive artifact was the lunar module checklist from the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. The checklist is a 70 ring-bound list of instructions on how to manually power up the lunar module Aquarius. In the Apollo 13 mission astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert used the lunar module, or LEM for short, to survive the journey home from the moon after a mid-mission explosion. The checklist was also used as a prop in the 1995 Ron Howard movie starring Tom Hanks.
Heritage Auctions of Dallas received the checklist from Apollo commander Jim Lovell who believed he was the rightful owner of the checklist after finding it while cleaning out a bookshelf at his home. Mr. Lovell is a national hero for his leadership during the 1970 mission and has an excellent reputation outside of the astronaut corps so it’s hard to believe any intentional misdeed on his part. It seems logical that the checklist would belong to NASA but there must have been some confusion regarding its ownership because Lovell has since given away several artifacts from his NASA days to his children and other collectors without upsetting the agency. It would be unfortunate if NASA does hold title for the checklist however, because I have a huge amount of respect for Lovell and all the crew and staff of NASA for their handling of Apollo 13 and would love to own the checklist myself!
Until the ownership is sorted out the checklist will remain in Heritage’s vault. The checklist sold for a record-setting $388,375, the most ever for a space-related artifact.
I’ve created this blog as another channel for me to explore my new-found interest in astronomy. I am now the proud owner of a pair of 15×70 Celestron Sky Master binoculars and I’m lifting the anchor on my maiden voyage of the galaxy. This blog will relate (as much as possible) my two of my favorite things, astronomy and the Bible. I am a man of faith and some science. I am hoping that by studying the night sky I will learn more about science and God. The two are not enemies like mainstream scientists propose, but rather science points to God and displays His glory in creation. On this site I will post summaries of my encounters with the night sky and (maybe one day) photos of these encounters, articles from other amateur astronomers, and much, much, more. If you’re reading this and you have a passion for the splendor of the night sky, feel free to comment on what I’ve posted! Thanks for reading!