About Cosmic Pursuits
This website is about star gazing, one of the oldest and most ennobling, as well as the most enjoyable and relaxing of all pastimes.
In these pages, you get access to free tips, advice, and suggestions to help you learn more about what to see in the night sky. Whether you’re a hands-on or an armchair stargazer, you’ll find something here to challenge your intellect and imagination and to help you gain perspective on your own life and place in this amazing universe.
My name is Brian Ventrudo, and I’m your ‘tour guide’ for these Cosmic Pursuits and a contributing editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.
Since I write and publish this site, you might wonder… what do I know about astronomy and stargazing?
I never know enough, that’s for sure, but I’ve been a stargazer a long time. I got my first telescope when I was 5 years old, completed my first university course in astronomy at the age of 12, and in time I received a master’s degree in the subject.
I decided a career as a professional astronomer seemed like a good way to ruin a great hobby. So I picked up a “practical” degree, a Ph.D. in laser spectroscopy, and helped measure the spectral fingerprints of simple molecules found in interstellar space and planetary atmospheres. Then I worked as a research scientist in the field of lasers and fiber optics for 15 years. I helped build a few of the many bits and pieces that now make up the fiber-optic backbone of the internet. I hold a dozen patents and I’ve published many research papers related to laser technology.
In 2006, after a 20-year break from stargazing, during which I got married, had kids, and generally settled down to tackle the daily concerns of everyday life, two things propelled me back into stargazing.
First, I happened across a copy of Seeing in the Dark by Timothy Ferris, arguably the most elegant and literate book about stargazing ever written.
And, completely by chance, at an optics tradeshow I met Al Nagler, founder of Tele Vue Optics, who showed me what was possible with a good telescope and eyepiece.
Sure enough, I was hooked again and I’ve been a serious stargazer ever since.
The best way to learn a subject, or to re-learn it, is to write about it and teach it. So I began writing the articles that would become my first educational website called One-Minute Astronomer, which launched in 2008. Cosmic Pursuits is a more modern incarnation of this first website.
I hope Cosmic Pursuits helps you enjoy the night sky and share it with those around you. And as the philosopher Marcus Aurelius once wrote, “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
You can subscribe to Cosmic Pursuits here to get regular updates and new articles.
And if you have more questions, you can always contact me here.