April 8- June 11, 2010

RCOS 20- inch, Apogee Alta U16M, Astrodon E-Series filters
600 minutes Luminance, 240 minutes Red, 240 minutes Green, 240 minutes Blue and 900 minutes H-alpha (All unbinned)

NGC 4258 (M106)

Read the background article for a full description

In Praise of Amateurs

Physicians, lawyers. engineers and businesspeople. In short, folks you pass everyday on the street, at the office or inside a supermarket. What could they possibly have in common with each other? Well, for some, they yearn to be astronomers and they follow their dream with amateur zeal.

Amateurs are volunteers. They decide how their time is spent and chart a course guided by their fascinations. Typically, they follow their dreams without formal training or the expectation of compensation. If interest is suddenly lost, they move on and are replaced by someone else bursting with energy and fresh perspectives. The self-selection of amateurs ensures their engagement.

Conversely, regardless of your devotion to the place where you work, you will eventually be faced with a task that has to be done at the request of a your employer or due to market forces beyond your control. At that point, polished professional skills may become dulled by the absence of authentic interest. Amateurs, on the other hand, are not subject to assignments. They pre-select their projects and attack them vigorously.

This is a critical difference between professionals and amateurs- the latter may not be polished but they're driven by an intensity that can't be counterfeited.

So, next time you hear this or that about an amateur, overlook the casual fit and finish. Although the world relies on conscripts, it needs enlistees, too.

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