When he’s not chucking planet shaped balls into the air, world indoor shot put champion Ryan Whiting is star-gazing. He tells SPIKES about taking his telescope to track and field meets, and shows us some of his pictures.
How did you get into astronomy?
"When I used to live in Arizona I had a strong pair of binoculars and then I moved on to Pennsylvania it was a little darker, so I decided to buy a telescope and I really got into it. I know every constellation in the northern hemisphere and I really like looking at the planets."
Have you ever taken your telescope with you to competitions?
"Yes, I’ve taken my telescope with me to a few meets. Once in Bydgoszcz, Poland, and once to the US Olympic Trials because I knew I was out there for 10 or 11 days. Reese Hoffa [2007 world champion and Whiting’s good friend] was really interested and wanted to find out more."
Why do you like astronomy so much?
“It is really relaxing watching the planets move across the sky and out of the field of vision. It is just so peaceful. I’m always trying to learn more. I subscribe to Sky and Telescope and Astronomy magazines. I like to take pics too and last year took one of Venus when it was in transit with the sun.”
The moon through Ryan Whiting’s telescope
Do you have a favourite constellation?
"My favourite is Cassiopeia and Perseus: where through the telescope you can see thousands of stars."
And finally, which planets would you match your shot put rivals?
Tomasz Majewski? ”Jupiter because he is so big!”
Christian Cantwell? ”He would be Mars, because he’d like to be the God of War.”
Reese Hoffa? ”He would be Saturn, because he is a bit eccentric.”
David Storl? ”He’s very technical and has that German sense of seriousness. I’d say Venus because it is an inhospitable place.”
What Whiting saw: the shot putter’s photograph of the Transit of Venus
And which planet would Ryan Whiting be? “I feel like I’m an average sized shot putter, so I’ll pick The Earth. I feel like I’m adaptable, and Earth is one of the better places to live.”
You can read more about Ryan Whiting and his bid for World Championship glory in Moscow, here.