When I was in eight grade I had a science teacher who taught about astronomy and space travel. She was a huge influence on me and encouraged me to learn more about these subjects. This was 1964 to 1965 when NASA was beginning to move fast in the race to the moon and many rocket launches were taking place. (see A CHRONOLOGY OF DEFINING EVENTS IN NASA HISTORY, 1958-1998)
I began to read about spaceflight and astronomy and spend my evenings outside on clear night looking at the sky above our home in Proctor. I subscribed to a monthly astronomy magazine, Sky & Telescope, where I would look at the stories and read the advertisements for telescopes.
With the help of my parents I began to purchase the parts needed to build my own 6 inch reflector telescope. I purchased an old 3 legged tripod and a mount for the telescope which allowed me to set it up in the backyard.
Later, I was able to purchase a better mount that also had a clock drive attached that would move the telescope to follow the motion of the night sky. Winter nights in Minnesota were often clear but also cold so my father decided, with just a little persuasion from me, that I needed a building… an observatory for my telescope. So together we built an 8’x8′ building in the backyard with a second floor that housed my telescope.
The original roof was built in two sections that I could open up to the east and west and fold down. The north and south walls of the roof area were like triangles that also folded down.
You can see this original configuration of the roof in this photo which was taken by the Duluth newspaper as part of a news story the paper did about me.
About a year later the original roof was replaced by a sheet-metal dome roof that was built as a class project by a student group from the Industrial Arts department of UMD. My father worked as the head custodian for the building. When the teacher found out about my need for a real observatory he had his class build it for me.
Even though my time in my backyard observatory came to an end as I moved on into my last couple years of high-school, my love for the stars and looking up into God’s Heavens at night is still one of the things I enjoy. After coming to find the reality of Christ for my life in 1982 Psalms 19 has been one of my key scriptures.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. Psalms 19:1-2
Today, it is hard for me to believe that anyone who looks at God’s creation; the heavens above, the majestic mountains, the oceans and all the awesome and amazing creatures that live there or the wonder of life as a new baby comes into the world… how can we NOT see the “work of His Hands” in His creation.