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It is always fun when you realize that you have actually accomplished something…I don’t mean the obvious stuff that you notice right away like scoring in a sporting event, or completing a work project early and under budget…no, I mean the types of accomplishments that you are not even immediately aware of until some time after the fact. Usually these types of accomplishments come at the end of a long learning process and it is not until you take the time to stop along that road and look back at the spot you came from that realize you have come some distance.

When I graduated college, I came out thinking that I had not really learned anything. I felt the same as I did when I went in. It was not until some time later, when a friend's mother asked what I did for a living that I realized I had actually 'done' something. As I explained to her the in's and out's of alloantibody identification and testing in the realm of immunohematology I slowly became aware of the fact that she had no idea what I was saying and I finally said, "I make sure the blood products we give patients don't kill them." She was satisfied with that, and I realized I actually DID learn something in college besides how to use a beer bong.

These images illustrate such an accomplishment for me. The equipment used in each is virtually identical, but they were taken a year apart. In that year I struggled in a vacuum to learn about this fascinating hobby. I posted my less than impressive images on multiple sites asking for tips and pointers from others whose work impressed me. Most were helpful, but the format of many of the websites made communication with these people very tedious and frustrating.

This past December, Charlie, a friend that I had met on one of those websites, came up with the idea to create a "facebook for astrophotography", and Astrogab was born. We went from three people and a handful of mediocre pics to over 200 members and thousands of their images ranging from beginner to professional grade work. And best of all, everyone that I have come in contact with on the site has been more than happy to share their knowledge and experience and the format of this site allows for a an easy exchange of information between members. I have learned more about astrophotography in these past few months than I had in the last couple of years. As I look at these two images, I can tell exactly what I did different from the first to the second, and can even probably name the person responsible for each nugget of knowledge or inspiration that has gotten me from point "A" to point "B".

I am not delusional; I know my point "B" is hardly a great image…I don't have to look much further than Crisp's recent M8 to realize that. But it is much better than where I was a year ago. So as I look back and see where I came from, I am pretty happy with where I find myself today, and excited about where I will find myself tomorrow. Thanks for the image guys!


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Comment by Trevor Woodrow on May 24, 2011 at 7:49pm
Thanks Mark. Tru dat!

I tell you something else that makes you feel pretty good, when you help some one it through providing your knowledge and experience, or even just a little encouragement or inspration...and they produce something that they are proud of, that is pretty cool too.

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