It was little more than a toy, but the telescope on a wobbly stand in the backyard was my first window to the universe. The view thru the eyepiece into the light polluted city sky still showed stars and planets and a bright Moon. But my first view was almost scary, as the image seemed to shimmer and move. The object was supposedly a bright star, and it was round and ghostly, and the shaky stand had no chance of providing a steady image. So this boy wondered what he had seen. The image was a large transparent disk. Could this little scope truly show a star as something so large? Had I chanced upon some alien cosmic artifact?

Months later I would realize the little telescope was simply out of focus, but this first brush with the stars begat my curiosity of all things above and beyond the Earth.