Hi there and welcome to OneDarkSky.com. I'm Robb, the founder and creator of ODS. This site evolved out of passion, love, admiration, and appreciation for our night skies. It is dedicated to you and other night sky enthusiasts who wish to preserve, protect and promote the beauty of our largest and oldest natural resource.
I am not a scientist or a professional astronomer. I would be reluctant to even call myself an amateur astronomer. I am an enthusiast, stargazer, celestial observer, night sky nerd, dark site dweeb, telescope twerp, sky app junkie, and all-around gadget geek. But most of all, I'm a loving dad to two young, bright-eyed little girls. And they are the reason behind my passion for astronomy and the night sky. I'm also a loving and devoted husband (I know, sorry ladies!), but she's more of the reason for why I still have a daytime job and have not yet gone totally off the deep end with my astronomy OCD. She helps keep me in line, or at least tries to (love you, honey)!
So, how do two little girls spark a passion for the night sky? Well, it's kind of a long story, as you can easily see by scrolling down a bit. When I was a kid growing up in a small farm town a couple hours west of Chicago, I had easy access to some relatively dark skies at night. We were far from the light-polluted skies of the Chicago metro area. I remember during the summer months throwing a blanket out in my yard and laying there for hours just staring at the sky mesmorized by the stars, planets and faint fuzzies. My mom bought me my first book on astronomy, "Galaxies" by Timothy Ferris. I read that book from cover to cover countless times and marveled at the sheer immensity of our universe.
Unfortunately, time moved on and I grew up. I left home and joined the Army. After the Army, I moved back to Illinois and into the Chicago suburbs. I worked two full-time jobs in plastics factories until I met my future wife who encouraged me to go to college. I attended Northern Illinois University (Go Huskies!), received my Bachelors degree in Finance, and married my lovely bride (sorry again, ladies). After that, it was nothing but work, work, work as every good, productive citizen is supposed to do, right?!
Over the years, I had totally forgotten about my love of the night sky. This was compounded by the fact that I now lived in the Chicago suburbs with its ubiquitous, eery, orange sky glow. Stepping out into my back yard, I am lucky to see a couple handfuls of the brightest stars on a clear night. Every now and again, my wife and I would travel to a vacation destination with darker skies. Seeing the stars at night on those short getaways would bring back moments of the passion I had once felt for the night sky. These days, I do not miss the small-town life of my childhood, but my god do I miss those night skies something awful. To my chagrin, the sentiment was mostly lost on my wife who had grown up her whole life under the pale, washed-out skies of the Chicago suburbs. She had no idea how much she was really missing!
Back in 2006, my wife and I had our first child, Maddie. She is a bright, smart, inquisitive, and hysterically funny child. At the age of four, she started asking questions and talking about the stars, planets, and our universe. She started showing a genuine interest in all things related to science including weather, the ocean, nature and wildlife, and, of course, astronomy! Suddenly, there was a tiny spark somewhere deep inside of me. The more my daughter wanted to learn about the night skies, the more my long-lost passion was rekindled. Eventually, I decided I had to do everything I could to foster, teach, and mold this young mind. My wife may have grown up without a strong appreciation for the night sky, but I sure as heck wasn't going to let that happen with Maddie!
I went out and bought my first telescope off Craigs List. It was a cheap, used scope, but it got me started. Then my mom gave me her Newtonian Reflector on an EQ mount that she just could never figure out how to use. In search of some celestial compadres, I started following along online with the outreach endeavors of The Chicago Astronomer. After lurking and posting for a couple months, I finally made my debut at my first official "star party" with the CA crew. After many months of use and pushing the Newtonian Reflector to its limits, I finally scored a great deal on Craigs List on a well-maintained Celestron C8 with a Go-To mount. In fall of 2010, a business trip to Las Vegas led me to a true dark-sky star party hosted at Cathedral Gorge State Park by the Las Vegas Astronomical Society. After that trip, I was totally hooked on dark skies and wanted to do more to promote dark skies back home.
In the late summer of 2011, I decided to go all in and make an all-out effort to preserve, protect, and promote the wonder of our night skies. And this is where OneDarkSky.com comes in. This is my effort to promote enthusiasm for the night sky, to spread the joy of amateur astronomy, to reach out to the public and increase awareness about the blight of light pollution, and to inform people about the benefits of preserving our night sky for future generations. With the arrival of our second child, Emma, at the beginning of Summer 2012, I am doubly committed to preserving the night sky for mine and all other children. I hope my efforts pan out. I hope you enjoy the site and everything we will try to bring to you. I hope it inspires you to go outside at night and... Just. Look. Up!