Today I’m welcoming Mary Pax to my blog. As well as being a writer, she has a passion for astronomy and I’m green as grass that she has actually had the chance to use a big telescope in an observatory. Here’s her story.
Thanks to Greta for graciously inviting me on her blog today. It’s a pleasure to meet all of you. I have a passion that competes with writing.
Every Memorial Day weekend, I dig out my winter gear, and head thirty miles east to Pine Mountain. The observatory sits at 6200 feet. The summit is 6400 feet, and it’s almost always cold. I drive out there most every Friday and Saturday night to give star tours and peer through telescopes.
It’s something I never imagined I’d be able to do. I don’t have a science degree. I never owned a telescope before volunteering there. I never even looked through one before. I knew almost squat about the sky — the Big Dipper, Orion, and how to find the North Star. That was it.
Pretty sad for a science fiction writer, and astrophysicists to bounce story ideas off of are hard to come by. So when we moved to Central Oregon four and a half years ago and I stumbled across a help-wanted ad for the observatory, no experience needed, I felt destiny grabbed me by the throat. How could I pass up an opportunity like that?
I couldn’t. I sure was nervous when I started. I’d followed the Cassini mission for years, so knew a lot about Saturn. The rest I learned that first summer. I would ask questions and listen to my fellow volunteers. Some nights they’d make me operate the 10” dobsonian telescope outside. My job was to point it at Jupiter and the Moon. Both are hard to miss, so I could handle that. I’d break out into a cold sweat whenever anyone asked to see anything else though.
Last night of the first season, a troop of boy scouts came up. The troop leader was very knowledgeable and had star charts. They stood around, picking out objects they wanted to see, and cheering, “You can do it, Mary.”
That thrill of discovery, even if I’ve seen that object a few hundred times, is addictive. It keeps me going back. The beauty of what lies above us still fills me with wonder.
I just started my fifth summer at the observatory. I love the thrills I give the visitors. I love teaching them. I love sparking wonder in the children. I love when they all go home and I get to try to find new objects or just roam around the skies. I love the quiet under the glitter filled cosmos, the meteors jetting across in splendor, the noisy screech owls, and standing on top of the world. It refuels my creative pools, and is the most awesome job there is next to writing. I love every awesome second of it.
What fuels your writing?
The Backworlds After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.
For other outlets such as iTunes and Kobo, see M. Pax’s Backworlds Page
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About the author:
M. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spends her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, www.mpaxauthor.com and at Wistful Nebuae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.