The Solar System HD

Tom Pickett ‘From The Heart’

Hi everyone. I’d like to share something very personal and very special with you all, some of my innermost thoughts and feelings. I hope it gives you an insight into my life and my world as we all travel down this exciting pathway called ‘life.’ I have worked as a land surveyor for the last 32 years enjoying every minute of it, but my passion and my love has always been Astronomy. Like you I guess, I just get lost in the stars! Back in June 2008 (when the economy crashed here in America) I lost my job. Since then I’ve been working odd jobs, just barely getting by and trying to keep my head above water. One night in September 2011 I was out on the front porch with my 5 inch refractor, just sweeping the sky, looking at whatever I could find through my 20mm window on the Universe. I glanced sideways and noticed this huge full moon rising above the horizon. Fantastic! I rushed to get my digital camera and decided to try a few shots. I got carried away, I was mesmerised. Throughout the night I must have taken over 50 images through my telescope before heading downstairs to download them on my computer. Quickly scanning through my collection I found one that was just spectacular. I just looked and looked and stared at that image for hours! The next morning I got up, downed a hurried breakfast and turned on my computer to look at my image of the moon again. What!! I took this? I was chuffed, it was beautiful. The image took me back to when I was 7 years old, looking through my first telescope. It opened up a whole new world for me and set me on a path that’s taken me to where I am today, an adult, but still with that irrepressible ‘little kid’ sense of curiosity and wonderment. I was stoked at what I could see with such a small scope. I glimpsed the Universe, and I wanted more! A few days later I looked at the image of the moon again and a crazy thought crossed my mind…could I make a video of the solar system? Without hesitation I checked NASA’s website and started looking at all the images of planets, moons and asteroids. Then it hit me, I could actually do this if I again found the right attitude from the same little boy that once challenged the Universe to give up its secrets with his 4.5 inch reflector. Putting the video together was a challenge to say the least. I was considering everything, thinking of this and thinking of that. I wanted it to be perfect. Overnight, my mind raced like it always does when you’ve got big plans. The next day I turned my computer on to view the video again, and hated it! I was devastated! All those hours of work, all that effort… and for what? Then I saw the problem, it was too cluttered. Excessive captioning, naming the planets, their sizes and the distance from the Sun was just too much. All my focus was on the text and not the beauty of the planets. So I went back and literally spent hours removing all the text and captioning. On review it suddenly came alive! This was what I was striving for – but it needed a music bed.
More hours pouring over countless music tracks I’ve heard over the years produced the haunting “New Sight” from Star Trek Insurrection by Jerry Goldsmith. It was perfect, I loved it! After tweaking the video to fit the mood of the music, I began reviewing it. I played it over and over, for hours, before telling myself the young 7 year old boy in me could at last get some sleep.
Before retiring I posted it on YouTube in the hope someone else might enjoy it. The next morning I got up to get some coffee and turned on YouTube to take a look. Wow! Am I seeing right? My video had over 2,000 views on it …and over a hundred comments! Did I do this? I was in shock and overwhelmed, I just couldn’t believe it. A few days later a teacher from South Korea sent me a text asking if she could share it with her students. I thought of the number of children in that class who were going to see it. My video! Folks, I broke down and cried that day. My dream and my passion for astronomy as a 7 year old boy was now coming alive in others. Since that moment I’ve received thousands upon thousands of emails from teachers, planetariums and others around the world thanking me for making the video and sharing it with them. Most of you may not know this but I have not made a single penny from this video, not one cent! I didn’t want to, I just wanted to share it. Friends, I’ve gained so much joy and happiness knowing I have touched so many souls with my dream about science and astronomy, just like that 7 year old boy of so many years ago. It’s spurned me on to do more so I’ll be back for sure. I don’t think it’ll be too long to wait. Carl Sagan once said, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” I know there is and that’s what keeps me going. I hope my reach continues to exceed my grasp, and I hope too I can take you all along on my journey.
Have a good day and clear skies
Tom Pickett


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