Memories of “The World’s Greatest Non-Professional Astronomer” By Guest Host, James Mullaney

Memories of “The worlds greatest non-professional astronomer”  

That’s how Harvard Observatory director Harlow Shapley in 1934 described the famed variable star observer and comet discoverer Leslie Peltier.  His wonderful and inspiring classic, Starlight Nights, is without a doubt the greatest and most significant (at least to amateur astronomy) book that I’ve ever read.  I reviewed the original hardcover edition for the February, 1966, issue of Sky & Telescope, and shortly afterward had the privilege of visiting him and his two observatories. 

I held his famed “strawberry spyglass” in my hands while we talked in his living room and then adjourned to the dining room where his wife Dottie had prepared a gastronomic Sunday dinner feast.  Afterward we went to his observatories, where he offered to let me sit in the chair of his famed rotating observatory.

His book takes you back to a simpler and saner time in life, now sadly long gone.  I re-read it several times a year to help keep my sanity amid the chaos of this troubled world.  There are many profound quotes throughout the book, but this one seems especially appropriate to what we are doing to our beautiful Mother Earth today:  “So much that man touches he destroys.”

Having personally known him, I’m quite sure that Leslie would so approve of the amazing contribution to the subject and amateur astronomy in general, as the “Observer’s Challenge” series.  Want to know more about the Observer’s Challenge?   Click on the following link….

https://rogerivester.com/category/observers-challenge-reports-complete-all-reports-from-2009/

Jim Mullaney

PS: Leslie was also the inspiration for my own life’s work culminating in my book Celebrating the Universe!   (HayHouse.com)

 

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