Professor Blair will be giving a presentation on April 10 in the Digital Library. The presentation is entitled “Astronomical Time” and is part of the Discovery Lecture series. (Steven Smith | Staff Videographer)
EDITH NORIEGA | STAFF WRITER
Professor Scott Blair has been wandering the Milky Way galaxy for the past 21 years at Riverside City College.
“I’m just grateful to have been able to do what I love for so many years,” said Blair. “What a joy it has been to talk about the universe.”
As a kid growing up, Blair was always fascinated with astronomy. He experienced watching the Apollo 11 project on TV at a very young age, which made him interested with the idea of man landing on the moon for the first time.
“Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong: those were names that were very important in my life, they were my childhood heroes,” said Blair.
Later in life, he was able to meet Buzz Aldrin when he once spoke in Riverside. Blair got to shake his hand and take a couple photographs. “The discipline that I have committed myself to is that of a childhood hero of mine,” said Blair. “That was nice.”
Blair first came to RCC in the late 1980s. He was fresh out of high school and initially had only completed a few classes. He took a break from school and after several years working a multitude of jobs including an auto mechanic, construction and even in automotive sales, he decided to come back as a re-entry student.
“It was at that time I got serious about being a student and I finished a degree here and figured out it was going to be something to do with physics and astronomy,” said Blair.
Blair went on to complete his bachelor’s degree in physics at the University of California Riverside in 1993 and then a master’s degree in physics with emphasis in astrophysics in 1994.
Blair began teaching night classes at RCC while completing his graduate degree. With the help of his mentors and astronomy professors Cliff Holmes, Terry O’Neill and Robert Dixon, he learned how to operate the Robert Dixon Planetarium at RCC.
Outside of lecture hours, Blair also takes students out on expeditions far away from the city lights.
“The biggest thing I do is organize and show my students the sky – the real sky, what the actual light from the object looks like,” said Blair. “Everybody always tells me it is so much different to see Jupiter than to see a picture of Jupiter, to see the moon than to see a picture of the moon, and to me that is worth all of it right there, to see their reaction keeps you motivated.”
The Robert Dixon planetarium is also open to those that are not enrolled in any astronomy course every Thursday from 12:50-1:50 p.m. Blair enjoys promoting the interest of astronomy through presentations, planetarium shows and other activities.