Sam Bruesch
2001 NCRAL AWARD

NOMINATION LETTER FOR THE NCRAL AWARD

SAM BRUESCH
Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.
Rockford, Illinois

I have known Sam Bruesch for at least nine years. Our friendship has been an intriguing experience because Sam is a fascinating individual. Sam has never shown any interest in climbing the political ladder to greatness. He has never sought public recognition and seems genuinely embarrassed when he is praised. But, in spite of his avoidance of publicity, Sam is a well-recognized presence in Rockfordís astronomy community. Even before I met Sam, I knew of him. Friends at work, church, and social events would ask me about the "Man on the Bike Path".

In Rockford we have many bicycle paths. The paths are lighted for night use. This sounds bad for astronomy because of light pollution. But, even though the lights are only moderately good lights, they are low intensity and do not add much to overall sky glow.

For Sam, the nighttime use of the bike paths became a pathway to the stars. One of these paths runs along the Rock River through Sinnissippi Park. This is Samís favorite site. On clear nights, for more than 10 years, Sam has regularly set up his home built six inch Newtonian at the side of the bikepath. Anyone who passes by is invited to look at the object Sam has chosen to showcase. Samís wide knowledge of the celestial objects he shows allows him to thoroughly explain them to his guests. Be it a planet, star cluster, nebula, or double star, Samís guests leave with much more knowledge than they ever expected to have. Further, they gain an appreciation for the universe that so few people in our modern world have. Many have become regular visitors to Samís observing site and stop for a look at the sky anytime Sam is there. Some of Samís regular guests became more outraged than Sam when a resident across the river from Samís favorite site put up a security light. The light definitely affected the viewing. One guest, a lawyer, offered to find a legal way to make the offender remove the light.

I have encountered members of Samís fan club at a variety of gatherings. As soon as they learn that I am an amateur astronomer, they ask if I know ďthe Man on the Bike Path.Ē Of course I do now because Sam is a very active member of the Rockford Amateur Astronomers. Since joining the RAA, he has worked many of our regularly scheduled public viewing sessions as well as most special events. Sam served for a year as the Lockwood Park Observatory Director when we could find no one to accept the task. Please remember that Sam is not interested in political office and this was a sacrifice Sam made for the benefit of the RAA. He has made himself available to school groups either at schools or at the observatory. His service to astronomy in Rockford has certainly gone beyond the call of duty.

I feel that Sam Bruesch has done, in his own quiet way, a great and wonderful service to astronomy. All of it, I might add, after retirement. I feel that this contribution to astronomy is certainly worthy of recognition by the Astronomical League. ďThe Man on the Bike PathĒ is Rockfordís gateway to the Universe.

Respectfully Submitted,

Barry B. Beaman, ALCOR
Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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