This week, we would like to highlight one of AAA's long time members, Bruce Kamiat!
Name: Bruce Kamiat
Hometown: New York, NY
How did you get involved in AAA? I sort of discovered astronomy in 1989 as a result of browsing in a bookstore and finding a couple of beautiful books that really captured me (“Cycles of Fire,” by William K. Hartmann and Ron Miller; and “Galaxies,” by Timothy Ferris). I told the people at work about this new interest, and one of them knew about the AAA and suggested to me that I check out the observing sessions at Carl Schurz Park. I started attending the sessions, and I was recruited to operate a scope. Things progressed from there.
When was the first time you looked through a telescope and what did you observe? Oh, I can’t recall what I saw the first time I looked through a scope. It was at Carl Schurz Park with the AAA, though. It was probably Jupiter, I would guess.
What is your favorite observable object from NYC? Your favorite observable object outside of NYC? That’s tough. There are so many. From NYC, I guess maybe the Moon. The Double Cluster is another though. Outside of NYC, probably the Pleiades. You can see them easily from NYC, but the views just don’t compare. There are so many other glorious star clusters and galaxies that it’s tough to pick one favorite. I can spend a long time looking at the Veil and tracing its filaments. M81 and M82 are great. The naked-eye Milky Way is profound.
Do you have any equipment, and if so, what kind? I mostly use an 8″ SCT that’s on loan from the AAA. I also use binoculars a lot.
If you could have any equipment in the world, what would it be? The 200-inch at Mt. Palomar. Silly question!
What astronomical experience/event sticks out in your head the most? Seeing comets Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp were definitely peak experiences! I viewed them both many times, through telescopes, binoculars, and with the naked eye.
Are there any astronomy-related pieces of media that you’d like to recommend? There are so many. I suggest just browsing a bookstore such as the ones at the Rose Center of the AMNH, the one inside the Planetarium entrance on 81st St., or the one on the second floor, and seeing what captures you.
Any other hobbies you’d like to share? I used to build plastic models of aircraft, ships, and other things. I was very involved in that during the 1970s and ’80s. I worked in a hobby shop for nine years. I went to conventions of the International Plastic Modelers Society. I even won a couple of awards. Astronomy displaced all of that once it took hold of me.