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Meet Luke Huxley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Luke Huxley.

Luke, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I graduated from CU in 2016 with a major in physics and a minor in astrophysics and geophysics. I completed an independent study in quasar research and a senior project using magnetism to launch payloads into space. Astronomy research is great; you study things that are out of this world and learn new things about the universe, but (just like any other job these days), it’s all done on a computer. Long have gone the days of actually looking into a telescope to make a new discovery with your own eyes. All the big research telescopes are actually made, so only cameras and instruments can use them; there’s no way to put in an eyepiece and see through them for yourself.

I didn’t want to get stuck in a computer job right away, so I found the opportunity to get a one-year work visa in Australia. My idea here was to do odd jobs here and there just to get enough money to get to the next place and see the country. However, I ended up finding my favorite job ever working for a man who goes by the name ‘Space Gandalf’! Space Gandalf is an Australian public television personality he has a few shows on the ABC and the BBC showing people what to look for in the night sky. He also runs Astro Tours Broome, where he takes people out to the bush and shows them the universe in huge telescopes! I helped him with Astro Tours Broome and I absolutely loved it! It was my favorite job ever (I ended up spending most of my time in Australia working for Space Gandalf in Broome), it had everything I wanted; actually looking through telescopes, sharing my passion with others, and seeing people light up when they see these wonders with their own eyes!

Once my visa expired and I had to return to America, I looked all over to see if I could get a job doing anything similar in America and quickly realized that nothing similar exists in Colorado so I decided to make a go of it my self and start Elevated Astronomy Tours! I’ve now been operating for over two years and it’s been going great, I’m always excited to go to “work” and share the wonders of the night sky with others.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I mean listing out my life story, it seems so obvious now but it was a struggle finding direction. I changed majors five times in college, and I took years off to travel/try odd jobs. I remember feeling lost and trapped during some of these years, but looking back, I wouldn’t trade any of the detours. I studied forestry and worked as a wildland firefighter and while I learned that biology didn’t spark my interest, I also learned I loved being outside and got to visit remote places, camping under some of the darkest skies. I was a tuna fisherman and a pearl farmer and while I was getting seasick, I was also learning about the tide and the moon’s effect on the earth. I still sometimes feel similar now of not knowing the best direction to take my business in, but I’m excited to see where it takes me and what else it will teach me.

I feel like the biggest struggles for me right now have been on the business back end of running my Astro Tours. I feel like I studied astrophysics and the concepts I had to learn there were far less abstract than US tax code. Luckily Colorado has some amazing resources for small business startups that have helped guide me through the paperwork. The paperwork was actually piling up so much at one point I higher my mother Karen to help me out with it. I was complaining about being buried in emails/paperwork and she was semiretired complaining about not having enough to do. It worked out well that I was able to put her in charge of the back office stuff and focus more on the tours and what I love more!

The other struggle I face is just the weather. Colorado, having over 300 clear days means this isn’t usually a problem, but defiantly in March, we are watching the weather closely. Unfortunately, forecasts are notoriously wrong here in Colorado so we try to give everyone as much warning as possible but a late change in predictions can leave us scrambling. If anyone knows of a reliable 48hr forecast in Boulder, I would love to know!

Please tell us more about your work. What do you guys do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from competition?
AstroTours.org offers hands-on guided night tours of the sky using telescopes, lasers, and binoculars. We also offer many other astronomy and education-related services for private events and school groups. We specialize in our weekly tours that are offered the most clear nights. We are known for our expertise sharing knowledge, passion, and personal perspective in a way that is fun and accessible to everyone.

Tours are conducted in the Rocky Mountains throughout the week starting around Sunset and lasting two hours. It consists of looking through telescopes, learning how to find objects in the sky using a telescope, a talk about the cosmos and a Q & A session. Guests are free to stay as long as they like after the show to continue looking at the stars and ask questions as I take down my equipment.

We take pride in our excellent reviews and do everything we can to make sure everyone is comfortable and delighted by the tour. Guests are provided with a red flashlight, comfy camp seating, bug spray, snacks, hot water, tea, instant coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies. We offer worry-free booking so if you wish to rebook or refund your tour at any time, that is 100% fine. We also guarantee satisfaction with the tour so if we are clouded out or for any reason, someone is not satisfied, just let me know and I’ll be happy to issue a full refund.

What sets us apart is there’s nothing else like this tour in America the only thing that comes close is the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, which is one of the best planetariums in the world. They say you can take a small pair of binoculars into Fiske and still not see pixels and that’s incredible but still doesn’t beat the actual night sky where you can look at it with the biggest telescopes and never see a pixel. Nothing quite compares to seeing planets, constellations, satellites, nebula, clusters, galaxies, maybe some shooting stars, and our universe with your own eyes.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
One of my father’s favorite stories from my infancy that I have a vague memory of is when he took me outside on a full moon night and I pointed up at the moon and said “ball”. My father got real tickled by this and said, “Very good, Luke! That is a ball, we call that ball the Moon!” to which I said “MOOOOOOOOOON!”. Sometime later, I hadn’t seen the moon in a while, so I came to my father’s distressed saying “MOOOON gone gone” and doing a gesture that usually meant I was out of food. My father laughed and showed me the moon again later that day. I remember him taking me out to see the Comet Hale–Bopp and still have the image of it in the sky in my mind. I feel like most people as kids have an interest in astronomy, it is hard for anyone not to be amazed by the night sky, I guess I just came back to that interest as an adult.

Pricing:

  • I ask 40$ per adult and 20$ for children for a tour.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
astrotours.org

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