Into the light
A short essay.
It all started with a trip to the scientific center in my home country of Kuwait. After a leisurely stroll through the aquarium, my beloved mother took us to the gift store. That was when I saw it. A shiny, black painted, majestically mounted Newtonian telescope. I immediately begged for it, though I didn't know much about telescopes at that time. I was barely 10 years old. With reluctance, my mother obliged and I found myself that very night on our rooftop trying hard to focus my scope on the moon. Like I said, I was like a fish out of water, utterly incomptent with this great instrument before me. Yet I persisted, and low and behold, by a grand and perhaps devine miracle, the moon came into focus. It was full, and I saw the scars ornamenting its surface. My breath caught by the site, the intense glow and utter blackness surrounding it, and I had this feeling in my stomach that I now characterize as the feeling one gets when the course of their life is beginning to change.
Life however comes with many distractions and challenges and as my teenage years came prowling, we moved to the UK and my key to the universe lay in storage, collecting dust and bearing the weight of a young boy's regret. University came and went, hills concored while others not. Countless highs and multifarious lows. Until I came home 12 years later. laden with scars I cherished and wounds I abhorred. I was now a pharmacist, employed and working, with some income I could spare on hobbies and recreation. My family had moved homes while I was away studying and when I came back home to kuwait, someone had unearthed a gray plastic case that held a young boy's passion within, barely contained. I remember opening that case and being overtaken by the heartbreak. With misty eyes I took the old hunk of aluminum out of its tomb, dused its mirrors and cleaned it whole. Then I made a decision.
I was to become an amateur astronomer!
I spent weeks researching the hobby, quickly familiarizing myself with all things optical! Recalibrated my budgets and bought my second telescope. It was a 12 inch dobsonian that I can barely move, and I took it to the desert the following night. It was there that I felt it again, deep within my essence, that same feeling I felt more than a decade ago, when I beheld the rings of Saturn for the first time in my life. I'm an emotional person, that I don't deny, and my fingers were literally trembling while I was changing eyepieces. I screamed at my sister to come take a look and then I pushed her away (gently of course), pulled out my phone and took a picture. I posted it everywhere and people responded to it, but I kept failing to induce in them that same feeling that I felt, and failed to communicate my passion. The photo was terrible!!!
"There has to be a better way to do this," I told my sister after we came home.
"Probably," she replied, and went to shower off and sleep. I, on the other hand, spent all night on the internet trying to answer that question. Finally, at around 6am, I placed an order for my first ZWO planetary camera and down the rabbit whole I was blissfully lost.
-Ali Alobaidly - 25/04/2022
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