I have always been fascinated by Cosmology, the origin and nature of the Universe. To me these are the most significant questions in science (please to pardon me, my fellow Parasitologists!). Every time I looked at the night sky and saw the multitudes of stars and even our Milky Way galaxy, if I was lucky and could get out of Los Angeles for a while, I was awe struck. And then when I realized that what I was looking at was a panorama of ancient history of the Universe where the light from each star began its journey from a few years to millions of years ago, my level of awe got even higher. This fascination led directly to Amateur Astronomy. However, being a professional scientist in another field I realize that it is really presumptuous of me to try to do Astronomy at this time in my life in the absence of any formal training, but I have never led not being presumptuous run my life. And it is only money, so I bought a 10 inch Meade telescope with all the goodies - CCD camera, rotator, adaptive optics, etc. And I dug a hole in my back yard and embedded a concrete pier to hold the scope and then built a shed with a sliding roof to hold the scope et al. And finally after several years of learning my way around the sky and learning to use the software for imaging and processing the images, I finally was able to create a plan and tell the scope to automatically find the star, galaxy or nebula and image it, and then to close the roof and park the scope.
Then came the Cobe and WMap satellite experiments and arose my existential angst. I learned that most of the Universe is a mysterious anti-gravity stuff called dark energy and that a large chunk is also a still mysterious dark matter, and finally only around 5% is what I like to look at and image. I almost went into a deep depression realizing that what I do is a total waste of time and energy. And then I read some current cosmology books (written for parasitologists of course) and learned that there may be a multitude of other Universes out there in addition to our Universe. Wow!!! and double wow!!! I actually stopped imaging for a while until I could think of a rationale to do it at all. The angst was truly existential.
Finally I retired this year from UCLA and stopped doing research and teaching, and I decided that even though it was meaningless and climate change was certainly more important and meaningful, I enjoyed it , so I would once again take up imaging the heavens for a few years. So here I am back in my back yard with my new dome and the old telescope imaging my old friends. Life is like that sometimes.