Hello again, everyone. It's been a week or two.
I apologize for not writing for the last several weeks; moving takes a lot out of you. Consequently, I wasn't able to see Comet C/2020 F3, aka NEOWISE. Hey, you win some, you lose some.
Either way, I appreciate you all hanging in there with me.
For those of you new to me or my column, I thought it would be appropriate for a bit of a reset. I just want to give everyone an impression of who I am and why I write.
My name is Joe, I'm 34, and I've worked at the Enid News & Eagle since June 2009. No, I am not originally from Enid, and while that makes me an outsider, I appreciate this city and its people, young and old, of all opinions.
I was raised in both Florida in Nebraska. In the former state, I lived so close to Cape Canaveral that I could literally watch space shuttle launches from my driveway. That was what launched (pardon the pun) my initial interest in astronomy. From then on, I read every piece of astronomy literature I could get my hands on. This continued through my teen years, when I became more interested in the UFOs/extraterrestrial life/other solar systems part of astronomy. And I would say that remains my main interest to this day.
Valparaiso University is my alma mater. That's where I got my bachelor's degree in journalism, along with a minor in physics. Between 2004 and 2008, I spent two summers conducting astronomy research at both Valparaiso University and Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. I studied protoplanetary nebulae, which is a sort of stage stars go through at the end of their lives.
In addition to all that, I've always been an avid amateur astronomer. I've never had the resources for a big telescope with fancy astrophotography abilities, and yet my curiosity and passion were nonstop as I scanned the night sky for every single star with my eyepiece.
And that's mainly what this column is about. You don't need a fancy telescope or any other special equipment to enjoy the night sky. In fact, sometimes the best tool is still the naked eye under dark skies. The sky shows us many things: objects both familiar and exotic; stellar birth and death, the life cycle of the universe from beginning to eventual end.
I have not gone anywhere; I will continue to share with all of you one of my most intense passions, the study of astronomy.
Coming from someone who thoroughly knows and has studied the field, trust me, there is always something to learn.
Joe Malan is presentation editor and astronomy writer for the Enid News & Eagle. He can be reached at email@example.com.