Meg Stewart: A Guidestar Interview

Original article appears in GuideStar July, 2012.
Interview by Clayton Jeter

Clayton JeterI first met Meg Stewart and her parents at a star party in La-Grange about two years ago. She was about 10 years old at the time and I must admit, she had more knowledge and desire for observing the night sky than I did when I was 10.

She also owns her own Newtonian telescope… an astronomical tool that I would have drooled over to have owned back in the hey-day. When I was 10 years old back in 58’ (giving my age away), I only had a used, crude, and optically poor ‘Sears and Roebuck’ 7x35mm binocular.

I’ve heard it spoken that many years ago, the ama-teur astronomer had inky-black dark skies while using their small aperture tele-scopes. Today, we have the opposite. The sky is washed-out with light pollution, but we now use superior large aperture equipment. Go figure.

Let’s read about Meg’s ideas here and get her perspective on how the younger genera-tion and she are pursuing their interest in astronomy. Here’s Meg Stewart…

The Meg Stewart bio…

I am 12 years old. I live in Carmine, Texas near Highway 290. I go to Round Top-Carmine Elementary in Round Top about 8 miles away. I only have 12 people in my 6th grade class. At lunch, we can all fit at one table. It is fun being a student in a small class be-cause we have a lot of attention from the teachers even though we talk so loudly that we sound like a class of 30.

My hobbies are riding my bike, reading, playing outside, and nam-ing stars and constellations. I have fun arguing and discussing with my parents about what star is which and trying to name constella-tions or planets we think we see.

I first joined the stargazing group, Colorado Valley Dark-Sky Explor-ers, about 2 years ago. We (my mom and I) went to the La Grange High School in a field overlooking a row of trees on the edge of the Colorado River. (It was too dark to tell ex-actly where I was.) We learned about con-stellations and stars that I hadn’t really paid much attention to before. I had a blast!

The Meg Stewart interview…

Clayton: Hi Meg. It’s great to have you here for some questions and answers about your astronomy. How did you first be-come interested in astronomy?

Meg: My mom saw an ad in the newspaper about a star party. We both thought it would be fun, so we went.

Meg Stewart

Clayton: Do you think that by becoming in-volved in astronomy, it has somehow rubbed off on your friends at school?

Meg: Yes. Some of my friends ask me about astronomy or if I can fix their telescope.

Clayton: Tell us about your telescope? What all do you observe with it? Have you got a favorite object?

Meg: I have an 8 inch Orion Dob. I love look-ing at M1, M16, M27 & M42 (my favorite).

Clayton: How well do you know your way around all those constellations? What star atlas do you use?

Meg: I don’t use an atlas; I use the moon or Orion as a reference. If it’s in is the summer, I use Scorpio.

Clayton: Do you have an astronomy mentor?

Meg: Yes, Chris Westall (the president of the LaGrange club)

Clayton: Are any of your family or neighbors interested in your hobby? Do they observe too? Where exactly do you observe with your telescope?

Meg: Yes, both of my parents do. I use it sometimes during the star parties at different locations in central Texas.

Clayton: How would you like to travel to the ISS (International Space Station)? Better yet, observe from the ISS?

Meg: I think it would be fun, but severely dangerous.

Clayton: Do you think you’ll still be interested in this science in the next 5 to 10 years? What will keep you interested?

Meg: I’m not sure about that one. I think so. My science class in school might keep me interested.

Clayton: Ever dream about a larger telescope with more light gathering capability? Or is that just too much to haul around?

Meg: It is too much. I would like to look through someone else’s.

Clayton: It seems in recent years that the younger people are not that interested in amateur astronomy. Is your school striving in any way to teach astronomy… or any of the other sciences?

Meg: Not really. It is sad because I think they should. Though science is one of our longest classes.

Clayton: Do you have any helpful advice to pass on to observers in your age group who are just starting to get the bug?

Meg: I would say to just start asking questions.

Clayton: Is there an email address that you have that a Houston Astronomical Society member could contact you for an additional question or two?

Meg: (See the PDF newsletter)

Clayton: Thanks Meg for taking the time to share your interest and thoughts within our HAS newsletter, the GuideStar. We wish you luck with all of your astronomy interests. Please come visit our society when in the Houston area, we’d love to see you.

Meg: I will try to visit sometime. I am in Hous-ton often visiting family.

Clayton: Clear skies always,

Meg: Thanks Clayton!

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