Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Value of a Good Book

That's the cover of my copy of The Picture History of Astronomy by (now Sir) Patrick Moore. My copy was given to me for Christmas in 1972 by my aunt and uncle. Yes, I still have it.

Photographs of Palomar Observatory and taken at Palomar Observatory are all over it (I counted about 40 of them). There is no question that this book had a positive influence on my 10-year old brain and it is very gratifying that it, and Sir Patrick Moore, helped me on my road to Palomar.

That is why I am pleased to help pass on this request to send astronomy books to Uganda.

Mimi Burbank, has been living in Kasese, Uganda and working the South Rwenzori Diocese of the Church of Uganda. Here's little of what she has to say:
We live in a part of the world where electricity is not in great demand, and therefore the night skies are absolutely beautiful! There is nothing (except for clouds during the rainy season) to prevent one from looking at the stars and planets, and with some software that I have on my computer, I am able to recognize the constellations that I see -- something I have never been able to do before in my life. We are too poor to have a telescope (sad about that) but teaching the children about the formation of the universe and our relationship with the rest of the galaxy is something that I wish I could do.

Science is so sadly 'under-taught' - largely because of lack of material and books, but I can assure you that the interest is there. Children are the same the world around - they all want to know more.

I would love to have books and teaching materials for astronomy - for ages 3 on up to adult. If I could get the adults interested in this, we could do more in the way of teaching. We just need resources!
If you have some old or even new astronomy books that you don't need, why not send them off to someone who wants them? It would be a good project to help celebrate the International Year of Astronomy.

Send them to:

Mimi Burbank
c/o South Rwenzori Diocese
PO Box 142
Kasese, Uganda
East Africa

Now, to finish up my story on The Picture History of Astronomy. Earlier this year I met Nick Howes when he was here on assignment for the UK's Astronomy Now magazine. As it turns out Nick knows Sir Patrick Moore. That's the two of them in front of the recent World Record image of the Moon:

I happened to mention my book to Nick and he happily took it back with him to the U.K. and arranged for Sir Patrick Moore to autograph it for me.

Thanks, Nick!

So you see a good book to a young, hungry mind can have a lasting, positive impression.


Anonymous said...

Scott, it was an honour and pleasure to meet you and help get your book signed (thanks also to Trevor Little on the LWR team, who got it to Patrick). 5 of the most inspiring days of my life were spent between Caltech and Palomar, days I will never forget, and hope to repeat soon.

Nick Howes

Anonymous said...

Palomar is a wonderful place!
More books by Sir Patrick Moore;
Best regards,