I think my real interest in astronomy started in the 5th grade. We had a segment on it and were required to go out at night, look for constellations as such, and keep a log.
I remember staying out and waiting for 30 minutes just so that I could log a meteor or some space junk in addition to constellations, and enjoying every minute of it.
However, after that segment I slowly found myself spending less time looking for new constellations and expanding my knowledge. I forgot all constellations except for Orion
(not just the belt), Cassiopeia, and the big and little dippers (I could never see the whole of the bears with all the light pollution), but I always looked up when the sky was
clear to see what there was to be seen and not forget what I still had in memory.
Somewhere around elementry school my dad bought a nice Celestron telescope (I'll have to get the model later when I remember). I just found out at the end of 2013 that he
bought it for the purpose of viewing a high visibility comet at the time. It still is a nice scope, and we've taken it out numerous times, but it never really clicked to get me
serious about astronomy.
I remember a time in high school when I was a TA in one of the computer labs and the astronomy class came in to do some computer research. Some of the kids were clearly not interested
in being there, but I would have loved to have the free credits to take their class. I never found/made time for doing additional astronomy in highschool.
In college I started to pick it up again around my sophomore/junior years. I even drove out to the edge of the Florida everglades to do a little stargazing a few times. I felt a
little wierd parking a car on the edge of a dark field alone, and always though a cop or someone would pull up to interrogate me. That never happened at least.
I still really wanted to take an Astronomy class then, and I remember being doubly interested since someone I was interested had an interest in Astronomy as well. However, being an
engineering student and being in the marching and basketball bands didn't leave much time for fun classes, and none of that happened.
In spring 2013, I picked up a few past years of Sky & Telescope magazines from Freecycle and my interest was somewhat piqued again. Then, in July 2013, I attended my second NAUCC.
At NAUCC, I was fortunate enough to share a cabin with several awesome people, and during a week with several good nights for viewing.
One of my cabin-mates, Steve, brought his telescope with him, and he changed things for me. For some reason, I had always thought of basic amature astronomy as being
limited to planet observations, the moon, and constellations. Steve showed me messier objects and double stars in person for the first time and how easy they can be to find,
even with basic equipment. I had never before had a telescope out for multiple days and was able to see how the moons around Jupiter changed in position over the course of a day.
Once again, I became really inspired. I didn't get around to doing much until Winter 2013 when I finally received my FY2012 bonus money and thought about getting some binoculars.
Binoculars, binos for short, don't take up much space, can be taken and carried at a moments notice and with ease, and are motorcycle camping trip friendly. Ideal for me.
With Steve's advise I decided to splurge on some Canon 10x42 image stabilizing binos (which I'm currently waiting for a good deal on ebay to win). IN the meantime, I picked up a pair
of Eschenbach Arena-S binos cheap from Goodwill. I took these with me to the mountains during Christmas and was able to find and observe objects as faint as magnitude 6 and had a blast
standing out in the freezing cold doing it. I've since joined the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC).
So, as of now, astronomy is back near the top of my hobby list; right up there with motorcycling, unicycling, and skiing. I'll be shocked if you actually read all of that, because I
sure didn't after writing it.