Tenerife Museum of Science and the Cosmos
he last evening of my stay in the Canary Islands was highlighted by a joint presentation with Dr.Martínez-Delgado hosted by Carmen del Puerto, the Director of Tenerife's Museum of Science and the Cosmos
- The Tenerife Museum of Science and the Cosmos hosted a lecture by Dr. Martinez Delgado (right) and the author (center). Also seen here is Carmen del Puerto (left), the Museum's Director and host/moderator for the presentation.
- Photo credit: Juan A. Henríquez Santana
- The author poses with a group of fellow amateur astronomers who attended the presentation at the Tenerife Museum of Science and the Cosmos.
Third from the right is Juan A. Henríquez Santana, the discoverer of Comet 17P Holmes' spectacular brightening that electrified the worldwide astronomy community during the fall and winter of 2007.
- Photo credit: Juan A. Henríquez Santana
Located in La Laguna near the IAC's headquarter offices, Tenerife's Museum of Science and the Cosmos is considered a valuable asset by the local community and therefore enjoys a large patronage. The Museum features stimulating displays to spark the visitors' curiosity, a modern planetarium with a 21 foot dome to immerse the viewer while the presentation teaches through entertainment and dozens of engaging exhibits that inspired patrons, of all ages, to understand the Universe through hands-on experience.
The museum's auditorium was more than half-filled when Dr.Martínez-Delgado started to review his research regarding the nature of stellar streams surrounding nearby galaxies. When this overview was completed, the presentation examined his discoveries and their relevancy to our understanding about the evolution of Universe. The author then described his experiences and offered an amateur astronomer's perspective about collaboration with Dr.Martínez-Delgado and his team of professional astrophysicists. Approximately fifty people attended the discussion including many professional and amateur astronomers. I was surprised (and very honored) to learn that so many amateurs had chosen to spend part of their Friday evening at our presentation. For example, Juan Antonio Henríquez Santana
, who discovered the unprecedented brightening that hallmarked the memorable autumn- winter apparition of Comet 17P Holmes
in 2007, was seated with the audience! I am particularly grateful to Mr. Santana- he kindly permitted some of his photographs from that evening to accompany this article.
It was an extreme privilege to speak at this venue and an experience that I will always cherish!
It takes a community
lthough my interest in astronomy began as a young boy growing up in West Virginia, the bulk of my time with this hobby was spent alone peering through an eyepiece- few friends shared my wonder about the stars and planets therefore my time with a telescope was generally without a companion. About five years ago, all of that changed when the Internet enabled me to discover a vast world-wide community of fellow enthusiasts. For the first time, I realized my interest was not uncommon. Learning to produce astronomical images has been the most difficult challenge I have yet undertaken- beyond the mechanical obstacles which must be mastered, the weather constantly conspires to thwart the astrophotographer's efforts. Then, once acceptable exposures have been gathered the hobbyist must learn, through trial and error, the art of processing raw data into full color recognizable pictures.
There were many occasions, over the past five years, when frustration tempted to steer me into a less difficult past time. So, none of this would have been possible for me to accomplish were it not for the encouragement and selfless advice received from friends in many countries. Therefore, I firmly believe it takes a community of people to produce astronomical images and I'm also convinced that what you receive is equal to the what you give to others!
My association with Dr. Martínez-Delgado and his team is another example of these principles- while lunar and planetary collaboration between professionals and amateurs is relatively common-place, such associations that involve astrophysicists are rare. My admiration for David is boundless- his patience and courage to work with an amateur is something that makes him quite unique. I particularly appreciate, more than I can express, his willingness to book me passage on his voyages to the very frontiers of current scientific knowledge and give me a peek over his shoulder!
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