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Wolverine
2004-Dec-01, 03:57 AM
With another added digit to the ol' post count, I feel compelled to offer some reflection...

Many moons ago, I was participating in a discussion with several acquaintances when someone introduced the now-infamous FOX crockumentary (http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/tv/foxapollo.html). It was appalling to me that people actually believed the Apollo missions were faked, but I found myself at a loss to fully understand why the claims presented were erroneous, let alone how to counter them. I knew, though, there had to be some plausible explanations not rooted in conspiratorial nonsense, and sailed forth into uncharted waters.

Via search engine (can't remember what I was using at the time, probably Lycos or Yahoo), I remember seeing a certain site pop up in the results after tweaking my syntax, and thinking "hmm, who's this Plait guy and why is astronomy bad?" -- to my delight, I found an index of refutations to Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon? and was quite satisfied being more suitably armed to counter my antagonists. I bookmarked the site and read through a few of the entries periodically, but had never really been exposed to astronomy; my interests at the time were centered primarily on paranormal claims in general.

Skipping ahead a bit, I learned more about this place from friends over at JREF (http://www.randi.org/) and as a result visited more frequently, including lurking around the forum for a while, trying to soak up a useful tidbit or two. During this time, I began to notice increasing attention paid to Planet X on the web, fringe radio, and in text/voice chat. Silly as it may sound, learning more about the associated pseudo-astronomical chicanery spread by the Px advocates was the mechanism via which my interest in observational astronomy developed.

I remembered the old, junky pair of binoculars that had been collecting dust in a closet somewhere, and wondering why after familiarizing myself with the constellations and time spent stargazing with the naked-eye, I hadn't considered pointing them upwards rather than at terrestrial targets. While they left a great deal to be desired and were quite ill-suited for observing; they were just decent enough to afford generally fuzzy glimpses of Messier objects and expose otherwise invisible stars in the distance. Marvelling at Andromeda for the first time even in those decrepit Bushnells spawned the realization of space's enormity, and that's what firmly set the hook in my mouth.

Fast-forwarding to the present, I've accumulated books, charts, abundant software, tripod-mounted 15x80s, a 10" dob, and have witnessed first-hand the transition of a curiosity to an interest, interest into a hobby, and a hobby that's recently transformed into an all-out passion. I still have to chuckle a bit though thinking back on what's transpired -- as much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth that's resulted from utterly egregious, extraordinary claims devoid of objective reality, I can strangely thank those peddling pseudoscience and eschatology for getting the ball rolling. How delightfully ironic.

Moreover, I'm quite grateful that Phil chose to make these marvelous pages & resources available, for being able to participate here on the forum and learn a great deal from everyone. It's somewhat daunting at times realizing just how limited my knowledge is despite ardent study in recent times, but on the other hand I relish how much I've learned thanks to this place and all parties involved.

And now, I must resume scheming about the most expeditious means of acquiring another, suitably-equipped rig and related gear necessary to delve into serious astrophotography...

The Bad Astronomer
2004-Dec-01, 04:08 AM
Wow. That's wonderful.

It's nice to know that the seeds of knowledge can grow from the waste of pseudoscience.

:D

Candy
2004-Dec-01, 07:36 AM
Congratulations, Wolverine! =D>

Maksutov
2004-Dec-01, 07:40 AM
Well written and very effective, Wolverine! Your honesty is admirable.

Now, what's this, you're going equatorial on us? :)

TriangleMan
2004-Dec-01, 11:46 AM
An inspiring story. Congrats on Bad Mastership. =D>

gethen
2004-Dec-01, 02:26 PM
Congratulations. Keep us posted on the next stage.

R.A.F.
2004-Dec-01, 02:43 PM
Congrats, Wolverine. Your contributions to this board have not gone unnoticed! :)

A Thousand Pardons
2004-Dec-01, 03:00 PM
now we know what you are a glutton for :)

keep it up

Wolverine
2004-Dec-02, 12:18 AM
Thanks for the kind words.

Looking back at my post, I wonder if perhaps I'd given the pseudos too much credit in the course of reminiscing. I might have very well credited skepticism for furthering my astronomical interest -- it's not like I was running around wearing tinfoil prior to finding this site. ;)

So perhaps my attribution isn't entirely accurate... it could be said that my desire to understand the actual science involved was the determining factor, but I still enjoy the irony of serious astronomical pursuits stemming from the introduction of ridiculous claims.

Wolverine
2004-Dec-02, 12:22 AM
Now, what's this, you're going equatorial on us? :)

Or going broke trying... ;)

It'll be a while before I'm able to assemble the gear I'd like to have, but will get there eventually one way or another.