One guess is a rare ability to teach, patiently and unpedantically. Another guess is a constant attentiveness to the elements and dynamics of the natural world around us, driven by an insatiable curiosity of the universal laws and forces governing these dynamics, whether lofty as a blinking star in a faraway galaxy or mundane as a stone in the mud. Or it could be years of living without plumbing and electricity (no TV). These are my best guesses as to why, in the long line of educators in my storied academic career from the Miss Thistlebottoms of grammar school, to the pedagogues of higher education it is Bruce who has most influenced my passion for the beauty and elegance of nature.
Some of what has inspired me over the years is now becoming available to all, now that Bruce has finally become webified and has begun to post on his new web page (but his wife Alice's computer!) his latest articles on astronomy. Many of the articles tell stories that rekindle much of the forgotten and discarded skylore the ancients had so carefully probed and recorded for tens of centuries, presenting us with simple, yet profound curiosities of the Cosmos that most of us in modern times have so carelessly recklessly tossed in the ash heap of the outmoded and the outdated. Most striking about Bruce's writings is they offer inspiration to both the uninitiated sky gazer and the professional astronomer alike. Written with stylistic simplicity and shorn of jargon and techno-speak, they speak to amateur sky gazers equipped with, at most, a pair of binoculars. But even for the most seasoned theoretical astronomers, their notebooks scrawled with complex equations, their telescopes aimed at the farthest reaches of space, there is always an edifying nugget to be found in Bruce's articles.
Bruce didn't come by all his skylore knowledge just from reading books. He walked the walk. When I say "walk," I mean walk. I once joked with him that all the terrain he's covered treking across our great spinning planet the entire stretch of the Appalachian Trail, the Rocky Mountain high peaks, Denali National Park, Lake Titicaca, and countless other destinations of high adventure ought not to be measured in miles, but in parsecs. Of course Bruce is far too modest to accept my accolades, and this month on his web page he even gives me some raving ones! You and I know whose work is to be envied and emulated, but just between you and me, let's keep it our secret.
Oh, did I mention? . . . Bruce makes some kickass homebrew.
Now, to Bruce McClure's Astronomy Page!