Every year my family likes to take a big trip somewhere in the United States. Considering our two boys Nicoles (age 12) and Preston (age 10) love watching the Smithsonian Channel endlessly, we decided to go to Washington D.C. for Christmas. During our visit, we took a tour of the White House, the Capitol Mall, Library of Congress, and visited all the Smithsonian Museums. Of all of the Smithsonian Museums, it was the Air and Space Museum that influenced the family the most. On the east corner of the Air and Space Museum, there is an observatory. Since we did not have a telescope at home, this was a great treat. They had the two telescopes pointed at the sun and were able to see sunspots and solar prominences. The boys were in awe by what they saw and spent about two hours there while they looked at the sun and asked millions of questions.
As soon as we got back to El Paso, Texas, the boys wanted to learn more and see more of the night and day sky. Since we still did not have a telescope, I took them to the Gene Roddenberry Planetarium for an astronomy club meeting. I wanted to see if they were genuinely interested and if buying a telescope would be truly worth it. On the day of our first meeting, the boys were inquisitive and asked an abundance of questions. The president of the club and curator of the planetarium, Cory, was highly impressed and was kind enough to show the boys how to use Digistar and extra shows that he created. That was when I knew it was time to buy a telescope for the family.
Since then, I have purchased a Meade LS-6 and an Orion XT8 Dobsonian. The boys use the LS-6 every week and it is extremely user friendly. My sons love how they can turn on the switch and it will find its location and where it is in the night sky.
One of the most memorable moments was when we went to a local middle school for a star gazing event. We had about eight scopes out there with someone at each scope explaining what the telescope was looking at. Since the boys know almost more than I do about the night sky, I had each one of them on our two telescopes. It was such as success that the eighth graders and the school's principal could not say enough about how much they learned from Nicoles and Preston.
My wife and I are terribly proud of how much our boys have learned and how they are already teaching other kids and adults about our wonderful universe. If our entry won one of the gift cards the boys said they would like to purchase an astrophotography bundle so they can take pictures of the night sky and hang them in their rooms.