Venus saved my life; introduced me to Astronomy

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Venus saved my life; introduced me to Astronomy

Postby bob_ames » Wed Feb 22, 2006 2:46 am

I found myself on Haworth Moor (I posted about Haworth Moor earlier, which reminded me of this incident and how I discovered Astronomy), in winter, all alone and looking for direction. I was lost both literally and spiritually. I had just gone through a traumatic divorce, one which limited my access to my son and daughter that I cared so much about. I wandered over the moors for hours, just trying to make sense of things. Suicide was not something I had previously contemplated; it just popped into my mind as night fell. I had not planned to be on the moors at night; I had no flashlight nor appropriate clothing. Suffering from frostbite and entering the first stages of Hypothermia, I dropped to the ground, ready to accept my fate. I didn't care any longer, I just wanted to exit our fair planet.

As I lay on the ground, I looked up to see Orion. My astronomy knowledge at the time was somewhat lacking -- I couldn't even name the planets in their correct order from the Sun, and nor was I interested in such. Yet, here was an obvious figure, a constellation that was easily recognisable. It made me actually think about stars. Yes, there I was, aged 31, and yet I had never given any thought as to exactly what those twinking pin-points actually were! What was that patch of nebulosity below the line of three stars, I wondered. What did ancient people make of Orion, and what do we know about it today, I thought. I got up, and looked up all around the sky. What a symphony of stars! They are shining brightly, so they must have found a reason for living! I felt this intense desire to know more about them, and whether they had an answer to life, the Universe and everything.

Then I saw Venus in the western sky (although I didn't know it was a planet at the time). Its brilliance was beckoning me. The Sun had just set, and I knew that I had to go north to find my way off the moors. I had long since strayed from the marked paths and was thus totally lost. I figured that keeping that 'guiding light' to my left was as good a plan as any. I came to Stanbury and was able to find my way back to my car from there. The following morning, I visited the local library and borrowed all of the Astronomy books that I could see, and the rest is history.

One piece of music which reminds me of that day is Hayley Westenra's "May It Be" (actually written by Enya, but Hayley's version is less new-age and more traditional sounding). You can hear a sample of it here: [url=][/url]

The lyrics sum up exactly my situation, especially the bit about "the evening star":

[i]May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh! How far you are from home [/i]

Incidentally, quite a few people have told me that this song reminds them of a movie entitled "The Lord Of The Rings." I have to confess that I have never heard of this movie (the last movie I saw was in 1997) and so I cannot comment on that. I highly recommend both "Pure" and "Odyssey" albums; Hayley Westenra has an amazing voice -- her Classical music tracks are palatable for people like myself who wouldn't normally listen to Classical music.

Today, I observe with a 300 mm Dob on the moors (when it's not too windy!) and am a huge fan of MER, HST, Chandra, and Cassini. I no longer have any other interests outside of Astronomy. I quite often kick myself for not having discovered Astronomy earlier. And here's the real irony: my brother has been an active amateur Astronomer since age 9. He owned some sort of refractor scope (which I used to strike him over the head with it in an argument and cracked the lens, rendering it useless) and he even spent 3 years' grinding his own mirror (which I later deliberately smashed, just after it had returned from being silvered). I wish I had been more like him. In my defence, he used to hurl insults at me for no reason, whereas I had/have never insulted anyone, thus he deserved those beatings. In retrospect, I wish I had not resorted to violence when someone yanked my chain, so to speak. We have observed together, and we get on very well. He is 2 years' younger and is a carpenter by trade. His telescopes include a 60 mm Takahashi refractor, a 200 mm Mak-Cass, and several Newtonians and Dobs too numerous to mention!
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RE: Venus saved my life; introduced me to Astronomy

Postby asterixhb » Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:00 am

A very moving story, hope things have now worked out for you domestically. I too got divorced about 6 years ago,(no children involved fortunately) and have since married the most wonderful lady imagineable. We celebrate our 4th anniversary soon and for me life has never been better. She indulges my astro hobby but teases me about being an anorak, but then is very quick to jump to the eyepiece when there is something different to see.
Obviously, I can not condone you hitting your brother with his scope, unforgiveable in my opinion. I find a cricket bat much more effective and is still useable for it's intended purpose and further administrations of brotherly justice.
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RE: Venus saved my life; introduced me to Astronomy

Postby qu54856bo » Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:26 am

Hi Bob - a very moving story. Thank you for sharing it.

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RE: Venus saved my life; introduced me to Astronomy

Postby jsc248 » Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:50 pm

Hi Bob,
Moving story and I'm glad that you have found a release in astronomy.
Keep looking up and come back to the forum often.
To me astronomy is looking up and thinking "What the heck is going on up there!!"
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RE: Venus saved my life; introduced me to Astronomy

Postby col » Sat Feb 25, 2006 2:56 pm

hi bob
what a way to get into astronomy, im glad i got my interest from another direction,[:)]
seriously, i hope things are going well for you now.
The lord of the rings is a trilogy of fantasy films, real escapism and great fun if you like myth and legend type films, it has it all, and if i remember right, that song you like is played at a particularly sad part of the film, so it has strong memories with the film and sad scenes for me, i would recomend you give them a try, great films.
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RE: Venus saved my life; introduced me to Astronomy

Postby northerncross » Sat Feb 25, 2006 5:43 pm

Hi Bob,

I firmly believe that it takes a brave man (or woman) to bare their souls, and admit to feeling so low and suicidal, but your story only goes to show that there is light at the end of whatever dark tunnel we find ourselves in. For those of us who have never been in such a situation, it's nigh on impossible to even begin to imagine what it must be like. But it's so good to know that you were able to triumph over adversity.

Regards (with a lump in my throat)

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