True to his desire, on the day of his sixty-fifth birthday Sims retired. He has always loved working with his hands, and retirement allotted him more time to partner his skills in glassmaking with his passion for astronomy.
According to Data USA, 96.8 percent of astronomers and physicists in the American work force are white or Asian. There are only 92 working astronomers and physicists over the age of 80 in the United States. Sims was never a paid or commissioned astronomer and is completely self taught. He finished his formal education in the eleventh grade in a one room school where his teachers did not know how to use a typewriter.
Sims invited Dr. Loris Magnani, a professor of astronomy at the University of Georgia, to visit his observatory. Sims made an impression on Magnani that he has remembered in the ten years since that visit.
“For an amateur astronomer, he is about as good as it gets,” Magnani said. “He could get an A in my class without breaking a sweat.”
In comparison to the telescopes at the UGA Physics department, Magnani said that Sims’ are “little gems in relation to our functional behemoths.” Though they are smaller in size, Magnani says that Sims’ telescopes are perfect to suit Sims’ personal interests.
“We are asking different questions overall. Sims is interested in what he sees and how to improve in seeing it, whereas I am more on the theoretical side of things,” Magnani said.