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Astronomy selects 2010 Youth Essay Contest winner

Eleven-year-old Adam Atanas of Houston wins a trip to the Northeast Astronomy Forum and Telescope Show (NEAF) with his entry for Astronomy's 2010 Youth Essay Contest. Youths ages 9 to 17 submitted essays detailing what they love best about astronomy.
Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) logo
Astronomy magazine selected 11-year-old Adam Atanas from Houston as the winner of Astronomy's 2010 Youth Essay Contest. For his essay on what he loves best about astronomy, Adam will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for him and a parent to the Northeast Astronomy Forum & Telescope Show (NEAF), one of the world's premier astronomy expos.

Adam grabbed the Astronomy staff's attention with a thoughtful and well-organized essay where he showed his passion for both the hobby and the science, as well as an impressive understanding of the different phenomenon in the universe. "Knowing the technical aspects of astronomical objects makes the observation even more incredible," Adam writes. "For instance, when I see the star Betelgeuse, I don't see a boring red star. I see a rapidly pulsating star about to go supernova and turn night into day."

Adam first became interested in astronomy when he was 6 by reading a book on black holes. By age 8, he had saved up money for his first telescope, a 6-inch Dobsonian reflector. By studying theoretical works and star atlases, he can now find a variety of objects in the sky and explain the scientific mechanisms behind him. He has also joined two astronomy clubs in the Houston area in order to get involved with other astronomy enthusiasts. "Sharing my passion with others makes astronomy even more exciting," Adam says.

His family is just as excited for Adam to have the chance to attend NEAF April 17 and 18. "No kid will appreciate this more than Adam," his mom, Katya Atanas, says. She's thrilled that while at NEAF, Adam will get to meet Alex Filippenko, an astronomy professor at the University of California at Berkeley and one of the speakers at this year's show. In his essay, Adam explains that he has watched Filippenko's entire 96-lecture series, Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy.

And Filippenko won't be the only scientist Adam will get to meet at NEAF. Amy Mainzer of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Astronomy Contributing Editor Mike Reynolds will be among the A-list speakers at the event hosted at Rockland Community College in Suffren, New York. NEAF will also feature more than 100 vendors and hundreds of telescopes and accessories on display, as well as a variety of activities, from astroimaging workshops and daily solar observing to STARLAB planetarium shows. Because this year NEAF is emphasizing astronomy for kids, Adam will have plenty to see and do.

"NEAF is putting a focus on developing the future of the hobby this year, and I think Adam is just the young person who will truly appreciate all this event has to offer," says Astronomy Editor David J. Eicher. "Astronomy is excited to help him further his interest in the science and hobby."
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