The "WOW Factor"
Astronomers share the "Wow Factor" with aspiring astronauts at the Young Astronauts Gathering hosted by the San Antonio Astronomical Association (Photo Credit: Bryan Tobias)

What motivates an amateur astronomer to haul their telescope out to a public street corner or elementary school and donate their time to show others the wonders of the night sky? Some call it the "Wow Factor"; that moment of realization when a first-time observer opens their mouth wide at the amazing view that meets their eye, their mouth drops open and they gasp, then they exhale the word "WOW!" The astronomer attending cannot help but smile and be reminded of their own first look through a telescope.

Here are some of the "Wow!" experiences shared by Night Sky Network:

"Not only were the children saying 'WOW' to everything, including a starry sky, but so were all of the adults."
Douglas Snyder of the Huachuca Astronomy Club of Southeastern Arizona

"The star party was a big success, people were everywhere and all that was heard was "oh wow!-Come Look at This!" or "I've never seen something so beautiful!" and our favorite "I can see Saturn's rings!" Overall it was a huge success, extremely productive night, and most gratifying."
Monica Hrouda of the North Eugene High School Astronomy Club

"Some memorable things the kids said: "Wow, this is so coooool!" "What do you do? What kind of job [showing things to kids with a telescope] is this?", I answered "The best job ever!", she replied "I want to do this when I grow up. This is so fun!"
Esther Li of the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC)

Nothing can compare to showing someone the rings of Saturn or moons of Jupiter for the first time and so thousands of astronomers go out into the world, sharing their love of the night sky with others.

Would you like to experience the "Wow Factor"? Contact an astronomy club near you by visiting our Club Directory.