The six-inch Quantum Maksutov



Astronomy Picture of the Day:




Democritus - 400 B.C.

"By convention there is colour, by convention sweetness, by convention bitterness, but in reality there are atoms and space."

Plato - "The Republic", Book VII, 529 - 400 B.C.

"For every one, as I think, must see that astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world into another. "

Plato - Laws, Book XII, 967 - 400 B.C.

"......he who has not contemplated the mind of nature which is said to exist in the stars, and gone through the previous training, and seen the connection of music with these things, and harmonized them all with laws and institutions, is not able to give a reason of such things as have a reason."

Aristotle - Protrepticus - 300 B.C. (approx)


" ... when somebody asked Anaxagoras for wat reason anyone might choose to come to be and be alive, he replied to the question by saying, 'To observe the heavans and the stars in it, as well as the moon and sun,' because everything else at any rate is worht nothing."


Dante Alighieri - "Divine Comedy. Inferno", Canto XXXIV, 1310

"And thence we issued out, again to see the stars."

William Shakespeare - "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Act II, Sc. I, 1600

"And certain stars shot madly from their spheres"

John Milton - "Paradise Lost" - Book IV, 1665

" glow'd the firmament

With living sapphires; Hesperus, that led

The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon,

Rising in clouded majesty, at length

Apparent queen, unveil'd her peerless light,

And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw."

Henry David Thoreau - "Walden - or Life in the Woods", 1854

"The stars are the apexes of what wonderful triangles! What distant and different beings in the various mansions of the universe are contemplating the same one at the same moment! "

Oliver Wendell Holmes - "The Secret of the Stars", 1850-56

"And Science lifts her still unanswered cry:

'Are all these worlds, that speed their circling flight,

Dumb, vacant, soulless - baubles of the night?


Or rolls a sphere in each expanding zone

Crowned with a life as varied as our own?' "

Sarah Williams - "The Old Astronomer to his Pupil", ~1860

"I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night"

The Hon. Mrs. Ward - Preface to "The Telescope", 1870, with a dedication to William Parsons, the Earl of Rosse (1800-1867).

"Stars - each, perhaps a sun! Far, far away from the earth and its troubles is the mind carried by such thoughts and remembrances."

Vincent Willem van Gogh - "Collected Correspondence", 1853-90

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream…."

Robert Frost - "Steeple Bush" - "On making Certain Anything Has Happened" - 1947

I could be worse employed

Than as a watcher of the void,

Whose part should be to tell

What star if any fell.

Suppose some seed-pearl sun

Should be the only one;

Yet still I must report

Some cluster one star short.

I should justly hesitate

To frighten church or state

By announcing a star down

From, say, the Cross or Crown.

To make sure what star I missed

I should have to check on my list

Every star in sight.

It might take me all night.

P. Clay Sherrod - "A Complete Manual of Amateur Astronomy", 1981

"Astronomy is a unique science in that as we learn more and more, the universe becomes even less known and more mysterious. In the theoretical end of things, astronomy allows the average person to think as far away as the mind will allow."

"Above us, the sparkling stars of the night skies stretch out like thousands of diamonds suspended on the curtain of space. Unfolding through the beauty and the mysteries of this seemingly endless expanse are patterns and answers familiar to those willing to study them..."

"There is an affinity for the eternity of space experienced by all mankind, a kind of motherhood in the stars to those who study space."

David H. Levy - "The Joy of Gazing", 1982, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Montreal Centre

"..observing is an activity that can rapidly become your outlet to relax, your means to commune with the universe, and a vital key to knowing yourself."

"...a voyage on a magic carpet that takes you to other places and other times. Even a casual look at the stars gives you a share in the company of timelessness that they represent."

"Look through your telescope thoughtfully...., for it is more than starlight that the mirror will reflect. Through the vastness of space and time will return also a part of yourself."

Terence Dickinson - "Nightwatch" - 1983

"...the lure of backyard exploration of the universe: the chilling realization that Earth is but a mote of dust adrift in the ocean of space. The fact that Earth harbours creatures who are able to contemplate their place in the cosmic scheme must make our dust speck a little special. But wondering who else is out there only deepens the almost mystical enchantment of those remote celestial orbs."

"For me it is communing with nature on a grand scale."

"The experience is both humbling and exhilarating."

Hans Vehrenberg - Preface to "Atlas of Deep Sky Splendors" - 1983

"It is a fundamental human instinct to collect, whether berries and roots in the past or knowledge of the universe today. For several decades, my favourite pastime has been to collect celestial objects on photographs. I will never forget the many thousands of hours I have spent with my instruments, working peacefully in my telescope shelter as I listened to good music and dreamed about the infinity of the universe."

Roger N Clark - "Visual Astronomy of the Deep Sky" - 1990

"To stand beneath a dark crystal-clear moonless country sky is an awe-inspiring experience. Those thousands of stars, many larger than our own Sun, can make us feel small indeed. It seems possible to see to infinity, though we cannot reach beyond arm's length. The beauty of the universe defies description."

"....yet the heavens are subtle. Imagine that the fuzzy patch at the threshold of visibility is really a trillion suns - a galaxy larger than our own, in which our Sun is but a tiny speck. Incomprehensible; yet somehow we try. Seeing that galaxy first-hand, even through a small telescope, is much more inspiring than the large, beautiful photograph in the astronomy book back indoors. Nothing can compare to viewing the universe directly."

James Mullaney, Sky&Tel March 1990

"Metaphysical aspects of star gazing - its potential as a vehicle for therapeutic relaxation, meditation, and spiritual contact with the awesome creative power manifests in all of nature but is pinnacled in the stars."

"The telescope is not just another gadget or material possession, but a magical gift to humankind - a window on creation, a time machine, a spaceship of the mind that enables us to roam the universe in a way that is surely the next best thing to being out there."

James Mullaney, Sky&Tel March 1990 (cont.)

"The light we see coming from celestial objects brings us into direct personal contact with remote parts of the universe as the photons end their long journeys across space and time on our retina."

"....the almost "out of body" experiences by those deeply immersed in the majesty of the night sky."

He quotes others:

Paul Couteau, French double star astronomer.

"Astronomy is typically a monastic activity: it provides food for meditation and strengthens spirituality."

Terence Dickinson.

"To me, telescope viewing is primarily an aesthetic experience - a private journey in time and space."

Tom Lorenzin, North Carolina amateur and author.

"The pleasures of amateur astronomy are deeply personal. The feeling of being alone in the universe on a starlit night, cruising on the wings of polished glass, flitting in seconds from a point millions of kilometers away to one millions of parsecs euphoric."

Edward Everett, at the dedication of the Dudley Observatory in Albany, N.Y.

"The great object of all knowledge is to enlarge and purify the soul, to fill the mind with noble contemplations, and to furnish a refined pleasure."

David H. Levy - "The Sky: a User's Guide", 1991

"Our fondness for the stars has touched our souls. We all share the feeling of discovery, whether the object we have found is new to all or new only to us. The thrill penetrates our being, as we try to describe .... how we have been changed by the universe sharing a secret with us."

Walt Whitman's 'When I heard the learn'd Astronomer' takes to task the lecturer who recited `the facts and figures' leaving the listener `tired and sick' - he left the room and

"In the mystical moist night air, Looked up in perfect silence at the stars"

Ralph Hodgson, `Song of Honour', 1913

"I stood and stared, the sky was lit,

The sky was stars all over it,

I stood, I knew not why,

Without a wish, without a will,

I stood upon that silent hill

And stared into the sky until

My eyes were blind with stars and still

I stared into the sky."

Otto Rushe Piechowski - Sky&Tel, Feb. 1993

"For most of us stargazing remains a soothing balm and intellectual uplift - even if it isn't cutting edge science. It satisfies human needs. Sometimes out of embarrassment, we might shroud these deeper yearnings with scientific talk. But we shouldn't need such `covers'. If our romantic encounters with stars reach some psychological, emotional, or spiritual level, so be it."

John Percy - RASC talk April 16, 1993

"A sense of shared exploration and discovery."

"How small our body - how large our mind", 'an older quotation adapted by removing a reference to gender.'

Christopher Dornan - Carleton University - Book review in Globe & Mail May 15, 1993

"... it's the exploratory power of science that gives it its wonder. The stars, for example, become infinitely more breathtaking, not less so, once one learns what they are."

Richard Dawkins – “River Out of Eden”, Harper Collins, 1995

“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.  As that unhappy poet E. E. Housman put it

            For nature, heartless, witless nature,

                        Will neither care nor know

            What stranger’s feet may find the meadow

                        And trespass there and go,

            Nor ask amid the dews of morning

                        If they are mine or no.                        

Ursula Goodenough, "Sacred Depths of Nature", Oxford University Press, 1998

"…I lie on my back under the stars and the unseen galaxies and let their enormity wash over me. I assimilate the vastness of the distances, the impermanence, the fact of it all. I go all the way out, and then I go all the way down, to the fact of photons without mass and gauge bosons that become massless at high temperatures. I take in the abstractions about forces and symmetries and they caress me like Gregorian chants because the words are so haunting.

Mystery generates wonder, and wonder generates awe. The gasp can terrify or the gasp can emancipate."



Within our solar system:

The Sun

9 Planets and their satellites (34 of them), or moons of planets.

Thousands of Asteroids

Thousands of Comets

Billions of Meteorites or shooting stars.


Within our galaxy:

Stars - brightness, size, colour, spectral class, temperature, age, distance.

Periodic variables:


Dust clouds.

Diffuse Nebulae or glowing gas clouds.

Planetary nebulae.

Novae remanents.

Black holes


Outside our galaxy:

Other galaxies.




Clusters of galaxies.


Gravitational waves


Where we are:

The sense of distance - AU, light year, parsec.

The sense of time - billions of years

The sense of how it all came together - Cosmology.