We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

Beneath the Keeler Memorial Reflecting Telescope at the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, are entombed the remains of John Brashear and his beloved wife Phoebe. Perhaps no single individual ever did more to bring the science and wonder of astronomy to his fellow travlers on "this old, round world" than did John Brashear. His legacy and his charge to make the stars accessible to every man, woman, and child lives on today in the charter of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh. On the plaque which marks the Brashear's crypt within the pier at Allegheny Observatory, are words slightly paraphrased from a poem by Sarah Williams. These thirteen words have become the motto of the AAAP and more than any others, capture the spirit of the astronomer within us and our motivation to protect and share the wonders of the nighttime sky.

You can read more about John Brashear in Pete Zapadka's web pages devoted to "Uncle John". Below is the original Sarah Williams poem from which the quote is taken.

The Old Astronomer to His Pupil

Tycho Brahe

Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, 'tis original and true,
And the obliquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men's fellowship and smiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.

You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant's fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

Sarah Williams
"Best Loved Poems of the American People", Hazel Felleman, ed. Garden City Publishing Co., Garden City NY: 1936, pp. 613-614


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