My Field Journals
In answer to the question, What made me want to become an astronomer anyway? Prof. Hammel says:
I think there's two things that I remember from when I was a kid that most interested me in astronomy ...I was not an amateur astronomer as a child. The two things: one is that I used to get car sick, and my parents used to take us on trips a lot in the car and so I had to lie on the back seat being sick, and the only thing I could do was look out the window and see the stars. And so I learned the constellations, I learned what the bright stars were, and so that's what kept me going on those long car trips.
And the second thing I remember, when I was a kid, is going to a planetarium, and they would do a star show about what the stars were looking like and what was "up" -- the planets -- and that was all kind of boring, but then at some point during the show a comet would streak across the sky with flames and a roar that was really loud, and you never knew when it was going to happen, and it was really exciting. And I would go back to the planetarium again and again and again just to wait for that comet to come. And I think I probably picked up a little astronomy along the way when I was doing that.
And then when I got into college I took an astronomy course that was just so much fun. I loved working with telescopes, I loved taking pictures of things, taking data, and I just stuck with it.