The Forsyth Astronomical Society, and the community at large, lost a friend in December when Don Ehren died suddenly from an undiagnosed health condition at the age of 64.
Ehren had been an active member of FAS for many years, serving as treasurer, secretary, observatory director, and president. “Don was an unusually active person in public astronomy,” said David Morgan, FAS president, explaining that Ehren set up his telescopes for impromptu observations in public settings to share his hobby with anyone interested.
“Always welcoming novices to the eyepiece, his manner was friendly and open, never condescending,” commented Terry Shore, a long-time FAS member, noting that Ehren enjoyed teaching and guiding others in his passion for stargazing.
Ehren also specialized in a subset of astronomy that allowed for daytime viewing. “He was an expert at solar observations and was well known to attendees at our Pilot Mountain events as he was always there early with his solar prominence telescope,” said Morgan.
The first in the club to own a compact telescope designed to view solar prominences, Ehren quickly became known as an expert on the topic. “He knew everything there was to know about solar stuff, and could spit out details like crazy,” said Morgan, adding “it was a remarkable talent.”
Ehren combined his two interests, public education and solar observations, to hold daytime viewings. “It was a great outreach,” said Morgan, explaining that Ehren reached more of the public than was possible during night time observations. With daylight on his side, Ehren was able to give presentations at local schools, scout troops and church groups, and was especially great with kids, according to Morgan.
Club member Joe Haberthier recalled first meeting Ehren at a public viewing several years before joining the group. “Years later, probably a thousand people later, in the dark in both places, he remembered me,” Haberthier shared, adding, “I will miss him.”
The group shared a feeling of shock and grief at the news of Ehren’s death. Ehren had attended an observation two days before his dearh with no signs of any problem. A eulogy to Don and his impact on the FAS and its activities was given by Steve Childers, previous president of FAS, replacing the December meeting.
“Don was well loved by his fellow astronomers, and he will be sorely missed. Many kids in the Triad will also miss him because he was so good at sharing his passion for astronomy with kids of all ages,” shared Childers.
Diane Blakemore may be reached at 336-368-2222 or on twitter @PilotReporter.