Telescopes: Glimpsing Saturn

A view of Saturn

A view of Saturn

I remember the first time I looked through a telescope and really saw something fascinating.

I was in college and a local family had sorta adopted me and some friends. The mother of the family was a science teacher and she enjoyed developing projects for her students. One afternoon she told us about a skywatch student group that was getting together to look at Saturn. It sounded fun, and it’d be a chance to get off campus and not spend a lot of money. So we went.

That night we looked through the eyepiece of a cardboard tube telescope. It must have only been about 6 inches in diameter, but as it swept the dark sky, I found myself enthralled because, for the first time ever. I could see for myself: Saturn really does have rings around it. Oh, I’ve seen the cool NASA photos, but for the first time I was seeing it with my own eyes…with the help of that telescope. Sure it was small and blurry, but I could see those rings and that was all that mattered. Mars’ red tone had nothing on those fascinating rings.

Since then, I’ve had the privilege of being around a few telescopes and visiting with people who make them like Gary Singmaster
There is a lot of advanced technology out there like the ones Singmaster makes or the Meade ETX-AT my brother‘s wife bought for him for a gift complete with tracking motors and the like, but I still remember my favorite telescope is that one that showed me the rings of Saturn for the first time. Wow! Across those thousands of miles such a beautiful creation lay spinning away. Seeing that for myself brought out a childlike wonder in me.