Astronomy is a solitary hobby to some extent. Observers often spend much of their time under the sky on their own, a peaceful and relaxing experience, an opportunity to set aside the hectic pace, frustrations, and challenges of daily life. Despite the pleasures of solitary observing, the opportunity to share astronomy with friends is an important part of the hobby. Local astronomy clubs are a great option, hosting star parties and holding monthly meetings. Another great option is online communities, and to me the best of these is

I joined Cloudy Nights in 2004, and was an active participant for a number of years, but then had a hiatus. (Not an unusual thing in amateur astronomy.) I returned to active participation in December 2020 after my born-again binocular astronomy experience. My primary hangout, naturally, is the Binocular forum (with occasional visits to the Double Star forum).

Cloudy Nights friendships through the Binocular forum, with people across the United States and around the world, are an essential part of binocular astronomy for me. It is such a wonderful community. The opportunity to share observing reports and information about binoculars, not to mention the camaraderie and fun, enriches my astronomy experience immeasurably. There is no substitute for it.

If you haven’t visited Cloudy Nights, and are involved with amateur astronomy (of any kind — there are many, many forums), do yourself a favor and try the Cloudy Nights experience.