Star Camp Observatory - Landers, CA - GMARS
Growing up in rural Alabama, I was always fond of the stars. We weren't bothered by so much as a neighbor's porch light let alone the stray light that pollutes most of the world's night skies. Even before I knew what I was looking at, in those dark skies the heavens intrigued me.  The views were absolutely brilliant. I can remember laying in my grandmother's backyard with my cousins while we all tried to count the visible stars. It was fruitless, of course, but it's a memory that has never left me.
 
I don't remember how, but I got my hands on a TASCO telescope catalog when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. My mom referred to such catalogs as my "wish books" because I would read every page, over and over again, thinking I was looking at the world's coolest toys. Thankfully, I never found one of those department store telescopes under the Christmas tree. If I had, my interest in the visible universe would most certainly have suffered from unrealized expectations.
 
As time moved on, so did my interest in the stars. I figured out that astronomy was for nerds and that girls didn't like nerds. It seemed much more fitting to play sports, to try my best to be funny, and to get a part-time job so I could keep the gas tank full in my old POS '87 Firebird. I'm certainly not complaining -- those were some of the best years of
my life.
 
Fast forward further and I had left the nest and landed at Auburn Universtiy as an undergraduate in aerospace engineering. After a few bloody bouts with calculus, more fraternity parties than I can remember and some soul searching, I instead graduated with a building science degree. It's funny how things always find a way to work themselves out -- today I can't imagine having any other career.
 
It's also funny how something like a childhood interest in the night sky never leaves you. No matter how long you live, no matter how long you wait, the universe will always be exactly where you left it. Unchanged, patient and waiting for you. All the success in the world could never erase my earliest memories of the night sky. It's tattooed on me and I will never escape it.
After college I moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 2006 to start my career. There I made a new best friend, Jennifer, whom I married in 2010.
 
At the end of 2014 we had the opportunity to move to Los Angeles, California to follow Jennifer's career, which we jumped on. It was during this time that I built the observatory in the Mojave Desert.

In mid 2017 we moved back to Atlanta, GA to begin raising a family, with our first child due in October 2017. We also have our original two children, Riley (a snuggly Jack Russell Terrier) and Daphne (an irreverent house cat). 
 
I spend my days as a project manager for Evergreen Construction while my wife is an insurance broker for Marsh. Outside of astronomy, I enjoy woodworking, skiiing, and architectual & landscape photography.

Clear skies,
Dustin

smithdu@gmail.com