LtE in CMO #268

From Samuel Ray WHITBY

. . . . . . . . I now have a new email address. It is 


Best wishes,

(13 January 2003 email)


. . . . . . . .Dear Masatsugu,


When I last wrote to you, I had in mind writing again, in order to tell you a little bit about my start as a planet observer. The whole story is too long and boring to go into now, if ever, but part of it may be of some interest. The small town where I lived as a boy did not have a large library, so, assisted my kindly Aunt Evelyn Black, I used the library at a town about ten miles away.


One day, as I was leaving the library, an elderly gentleman named Robert Buford noticed that I was checking out some astronomy books. He pointed out that he was returning some astronomy books, and he suggested that perhaps I might like to read the books he was returning. I said that I had already read those books. Amused rather than offended, he said that he was pleased to meet someone else with an interest in astronomy, and he invited me to visit him sometime to talk about the sky. I arranged to visit him, and we had a good talk about astronomical things.


I did not know it at the time, but Mr. Buford was dying. After his death, his wife gave me his books and his collection of Sky and Telescope magazines. Among those books was a volume by Patrick Moore. Although not exactly a profound work, the book was one more piece of kindling that would eventually come to flame. It fired my imagination with the belief that amateurs could do valuable science. Whatever one may say or think of Mr. Moore - and I have never met or corresponded with him - his book did one rather isolated country boy a little good and no lasting harm. Among the good influences there was a warming of my feelings toward the Brits. I had studied history texts that portrayed the British - the American experience of them -as only slightly less venial than Northerners, and it was good to see another side of things. In late adult life, I have found Rogers, McKim, Graham, and others to be unfailingly friendly and generous.

Perhaps you would be interested to read about the first time I used a telescope, but that will be a story for another time.


We have snow on the ground. I will forward to you a photo that I took yesterday of Tyler playing in the snow.

(18 January 2003 email)


. . . . . . . .I am emailing a photo of our first flower of the year, a snow drop, with Tyler's hand and real snow as a background.

(19 January 2003 email)


. . . . . . . .Dear Masatsugu,


Attached is a photo of a solar pillar, taken this morning from Hopewell.


You asked when I met Mr. Buford. My best guess is that our acquaintance was made in about 1959. The library was much smaller then than now. There was a statue of a Confederate soldier on the front lawn.


My first use of a telescope was in roughly the same era. An elderly lady, Mrs. Fluornoy, who owned a telescope invited me to come to see her and look at the stars with her telescope. I accompanied my aunt to a church function held at Mrs. Fluornoy's home, and I reminded her of her invitation. Mrs. Fluornoy, the hostess, stopped her dinner preparation long enough to set up her telescope for me to use. She left me to use her 2.4" Unitron refractor for the rest of the evening. It seems, from the vantage point of 43 or so years, that everyone else had a good meal and some sort of religious activity. I had Jupiter, Saturn, a first quarter Moon, and some double stars. Wow! What a night!


I hope you like the photo of the showy sunrise.

Best wishes,

(23 January 2003 email)


Sam WHITBY (Hopewell, VA, USA)

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