I won't say Astronomy has always been my interest because that would mean I don't do much about what I like. But it has been a branch of science that I have looked at with awe. To a mere mortal like me, it's been something that is intangible.
Professor Jim Kaler is a well-known professor at UIUC.
A friend of mine introduced me to Professor Kaler's lectures on Astronomy.
And ever since that has happened, this seemingly unfathomable subject of Astronomy in general and these lectures in particular, have started having immense impact on my life. It has started reflecting on everything I do. At times, the reflections are so immense that I even think of futility of things I do for a living. The Astronomical scale of the things out there is so grand and mind-boggling that I am often speechless after I hear these lectures. On one side we have subatomic particles and nuclear physics and on the other side we have got these mystic celestial (!) bodies moving for ages and in between we have got the beautiful Life! Oh My, only if my words were capable enough to express excited state of my mind, Alas.
Lot has been said about Astronomy by various capable authors. The distinguishing characteristics of these lectures are effective and gripping delivery, clear thought process that permeates the monologue and most importantly, the drama that Professor Kaler creates throughout. It will be evident from statements like:
"From Copernicus to Tyco, to Kepler, to Galileo, to Nootn and finally onto Einstein ..."
"... All this set the stage for Issac Nootn ..."
"Sort of a final act when we bring in Einstein ..."
"Everyone who has an advanced technological device, is going to skim the cream! Galileo had the Hubble Telescope of the time!"
"It struck him almost in greeeeen, he said, 'The orbits are ellipses' ..."
"Knowing how it works, only enhances the beauty ..."
These lectures are a treasure to me. Through the chapters like "Romance of the Moon", "Earth, Sky and the Planets", "Putting in all together" what Kaler has been able to achieve is beyond words. You've got to listen to them ...
(Forgive my being emotional, and pardon my excitement).