Ken Hewitt-White (Hitchhiking Down The Cosmic Highway) is a free-lance astronomy writer and lecturer, who has been observing the night sky since the mid-1960s. He was the director of the H.R. MacMillan Planetarium in Vancouver from 1988 to 1992 and was the head writer and co-host of Discovery Channel's TV series "Cosmic Highway" from 1996 - 1999. Ken continues to write about the constellations and amateur astronomy in SkyNews magazine.
Astronomy has come a long way in the past couple of generations, both at the amateur and professional levels. What have been the breakthroughs in the past forty years, and how have they affected the growth of backyard astronomy?
Instead of intimidating backyard skywatchers, the news from giant observatories, interplanetary probes, and orbiting telescopes has been wildly inspirational. The resources now available - telescopes & accessories, books & charts, software, the Internet - all provide a new generation of recreational astronomers with more to get them started and more to keep them going. Yet, at the bottom of the ever-growing pile of hi-tech observing toys, our hobby consists primarily of people having a love for the stars and a passion for scanning the night sky - just for the fun of it.
Ken employs video clips of astronomers who appeared on the television series Cosmic Highway, recent imagery from NASA missions, and his own 35mm SLR camera shots of dark country skies to forge a link between professional discovery and the curiosity that compels ordinary people to peer through telescopes.
"Hitchhiking Down the Cosmic Highway" explores the starry lanes travelled by skybuffs everywhere. What makes the journey so satisfying is amateur astronomy's fundamental altruism: our desire to share a love of the night with others.