I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how infectious this hobby can be, and how we often fail to realize how we all impact others in this hobby.
Just this evening, I received an email from a gentleman who was a childhood mentor of mine, and who came along at just the right place and time to have an impact in my passion for astrophotography. I was 14 years old at the time, and highly influential and eager to learn, and he was someone I have always looked up to for his experitise in the area. To hear from him really made my day, and likewise as he stated.
Yet if I look back at all the people I have influenced, I can see a long line as well. At age 13, when I received my first "real" telescope, I would set it up down on the road in front of my house. I grew up with a fellow by the name of Brad, and him and I would use this to look at the moon and planets. I know he got a real kick out of this and he later went on to become a chemistry professor at the local college, and also joined the club where he is still a member to this day.
And then I look at other friends, just guys I used to hang around with like Roger, Joe and Mark, a small circle of guys. All three of them would go on to join the club and become esteemed amateurs in their own right. Joe spent many years as the President of the organization and maintained an active interest in doing astronomy, and has completed the Messier catalog using nothing more than a telrad and a sky atlas. Roger worked in media and information technology and has created a huge electronic library of astronomy resources. Mark has likely read every single book on astronomy that can be purchased and is extremely knowledgeable in most anything one wants to know.
The bottom line here is that this is not about me. This is about how we affect those around us with our infectious love of this hobby, and how we, through our own enthusiasm pass this along to the next one in line. This is an interactive hobby, and a very human experience to share the wonders of space with new blood. None of us are so far up that we cannot remember the beginning, and the thrill of learning something new, no matter how small, or how trivial because we are building a foundation on which to build and grow into this hobby. We never stop growing because we began with something we knew we could never be larger than. It is my hope that we always remember that.