I've always enjoyed astronomy and its related fields, but for a long time it was a passive pursuit - I paid attention to space shuttle missions, monitored the progress of Mars rovers, pored over books on the solar system, and spent countless hours following one Wikipedia link after another. After moving to northern New Mexico and its dark skies, I started taking a more active approach to astronomy. This started by just sitting in my back yard looking at the stars, expanded into some attempts at astrophotography with a simple barndoor device, and culminated in my first telescope purchase in early 2013.

This first telescope was an Orion XT8, an 8 inch reflector on a Dobsonian mount. I got a couple of inexpensive lenses to go with it (a 25mm Plössl and a 6mm Plössl) and a mylar solar filter, giving me plenty of accessories to keep me busy for a while. The first object I looked at was the Moon, of course, but after that I started darting around between planets, stars, nebulae, and anything else that would sit still for me.

Since I have an analytical mind and tend to look at everything I do as a chance to collect data, I decided from the start to keep a telescope logbook. I whipped up some LaTeX commands to make it easy to maintain, and as a bonus it creates its own index. That way I can easily count up how many objects I've found.