First Light

Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope, seen here after release back to orbit following the end of its final servicing mission in 2009

Astronomy is the only investigation into nature that demands at least one arm tied behind your back. Unless you’re into meteorites or comet samples, the only method of studying the greater universe beyond our home world is by examining the light from distant suns. To do that, we must turn of course to our telescopes.

Every telescope’s inaugural moment is known as first light – that first image or observation taken by the newly commissioned telescope. If a telescope were a ship, first light┬áis its maiden voyage.

I’ve been fortunate to work on one particularly interesting telescope, as well as a few others. But my greatest joy has been sharing the excitement of what we’ve discovered about our universe using these wonderful machines.

I’ve been giving public presentations since I was a teenager, and even made a video or two. But writing has always been a bit of a challenge for me, which is ironic since I’m best friends with a brilliant writer and editor, the son of an English Professor, and husband to an incredible (and beautiful) author. You’d think some of that would rub off on me.

Of course, there are a few other astronomy and physics blogs out there (including some pretty bad ones), and perhaps even a nice space science site or two. But one thing I’ve come to understand is that to teach is to learn. I hope that by doing more writing, I’ll get the hang of it and also force myself to spend a little more time doing what I love to do in the first place – learn about the universe.

Another thing I’ve learned is that science is a collaborative effort at all levels, from our best theorists to the technicians in the trenches, to amateurs who pursue their subject purely for their love of it.

And so my new blog has seen its own first light. I hope to present the light of many more telescopes, and observatories in these pages, and perhaps shed some light on a few other topics as well. And of course I’ll be tinkering, tweaking, and eventually probably redesigning this blog from time to time as it – and my abilities – evolve.

I hope you’ll enjoy the voyage with me.

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