Port Arthur News
Astronomy is more than just a hobby for Kelly Taylor.
It is a lifestyle.
Searching the vast reaches of the universe with the aid of a telescope and sharing the knowledge he gleans is common for the Groves man. On a recent afternoon Taylor brings out a large tube assembly 8-inch refractor telescope much to the excitement of his young neighbors.
Joshua Gunner, 24, a longtime neighbor and some of Gunner’s friends took turns looking at the Moon through the instrument.
“When we first moved here I learned this was one of the most amazing things I’d ever seen,” Gunner said adding that Taylor showed him the planet Jupiter and it “blew my mind.” “I was always interested, went on trips to planetariums. You look through the telescope and it changes the way you look at everything. I catch myself going out to look at the stars and me and my wife try to find the constellations.”
Taylor, who is in his 50s and retired, got his first telescope from his father when he was 8-years-old.
“Me and my brother shared it and saw Saturn,” Taylor said of that first telescope. “Astronomy is one of the few hobbies that you can do and make a contribution.”
Taylor is also a ham radio operator and uses his knowledge to keep tabs on solar activity. Band frequency allows the operators to talk to other radio operators across the globe but during peak solar activity time comes complications, he said.
Looking directly at the sun is hazardous as Taylor points out but can be done safely with the use of a Herschel wedge which is an optical prism use in solar observation and refracts most of the light out of the optical path.
“We grew up in the space age. I was born in 1960. Sputnik, the Moon landing, Pioneer Missions,” he said.
Taylor often sounds more like an astronomy professor than an enthusiast as he describes how the telescope is in sync with global positioning systems “right down to the second.” His equipment is polar aligned and pointed at the North Pole.
“It takes nine minutes for the light from the Sun to reach us,” he said. “And we’ve seen changes in Sun spots, saw them grow.”
Taylor moves to nearby computer where he shows images of Jupiter as the different moons move around and cast shadows on the planet. Other images show a globular cluster or big knot of stars in the Milky way arm and photos so clear it seems one could reach out and touch the Moon.
Humans have looked to the skies for eons.
“It is deeply embedded in our history. In ancient Egypt Orion was considered the soul of Oriris and the three pyramids of Giza are said to mirror Orion. In the Bible, Job (38.31) said “can thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?,” he said. “It gives you a sense of how unimportant we are. We are all the same. There’s no reason to rush, cut in front of each other. It (looking at the skies) gives a sense of humbleness to me. The Heavens declare the glory of God. How can you look at that and not think of God.”