Someone You Should Know: Teacher Uses Space Photography To Inspire Students

Someone You Should Know

When you’re young, it’s helpful to get a sense of perspective.

For fifth graders at Perkett Elementary School, perspective comes courtesy of Mr. James Owens, whose love for all things astronomical is no secret — in fact, it’s all over his classroom.

“I think space is something we take for granted every day,” Owens says. “It’s always out there, and we don’t really know what we’re looking at.”

But Mr. Owens isn’t content to let the textbook do the talking; just like Galileo, this fifth grade teacher would rather see it for himself.

“I’m an astrophotographer,” he explains. “I go out at night and I stand there for hours and take pictures of space.”

Owens got his first telescope in high school — and his gaze has been starward ever since. He can quickly capture images of our nearby cosmic neighbors, using just a cell phone camera.

But with his high-end motorized telescope (and a lot of patience), he can reach deep into the stars and reveal some of the most grand tapestries the universe has to offer.

“I’ve been published in a couple of astrophotography magazines,” Owens says. “And I’m on the shortlist of being published in National Geographic.”

But those photos have another use beyond the pages of space magazines — arguably an even more important use.

“I thought, being super into astronomy and telescopes, that I could take that and put it in my classroom and show kids how that works,” he says.

Owens puts his passion for space on display for his students in hopes of inspiring them to see the world in new ways.

“He takes pictures of like, the galaxy and stuff,” says Jeffrey McCalister, a fifth grader at Perkett Elementary. “It’s really cool, and we get to see it.”

“He’s like, really funny and goofy,” says Helena Lium, another student of Owens’s, with a smile.

Because everyone — not just fifth graders — could benefit from a new perspective every now and then.

A teacher, and an astrophotographer, James Owens is Someone You Should Know.

By the way, a note on that National Geographic shortlist: Owens says the magazine’s editors deemed his photos worthy of being published.

They’re being held onto until National Geographic puts out an issue that his photos would fit well with.

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