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How did we, and at what age, get into Astronomy


alan potts
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I started an interest in astronomy probably like many others.

I was 17 years old and I picked up a little book which my late Brother had bought, The Observers Book of Astronomy. I read it 3 times and started to check out the night skies with it. He then bought a very small 30mm refractor with a 10-30 zoom from Dixons, as soon a s I saw the crescent of Venus I was hooked. I then moved up to a 3 inch refractor.

How and when did you start.

Alan.

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I read Hawking's brief history of time when it was first published (I must have been 13 or 14) and got interested in astronomy and cosmology at that point - my grandfather knew Patrick Moore from the BBC and I went to chat with him a couple of times, although he told me to concentrate on Physics and Mathematics rather than bother with observing (!!). Suppose that's not bad advice for cosmology really, and I ended up with a PhD in it, although I remember him saying he thought that an engineering degree and working in spacecraft engineering would be more sensible, don't think he saw a lot of use in cosmology at that time.

I got into backyard astronomy via photography in the early 1990s, although I didn't have a 'scope at the time - just a Canon SLR, a few fixed lenses, and 35mm film (good old Kodak Tech Pan). It was a bit of a battle, but I must have been reasonably proficient by the time Hyakutake turned up (1996?) as I got some pretty good results for that. Didn't own a telescope until I got a Meade ETX sometime around 2001.

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A long time ago in a galaxy not far away......

I started noticing the moon and stars at a very early age. At about 7 or 8 years old I was given the ladybird book "light, mirrors and lenses".

That set me off on a journey that is still ongoing 40 odd years later.

My first usable scope was a 60mm refractor from Dixons about age 11.

Sent from my ZT ICS using Tapatalk HD

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Yes I recall watching the moon landings to. Then when aged 11 I achieved a book voucher from School and spent it on 'Observers Book of Astronomy' and 'Concise Guide In Colour Constellations', both of which I still have. Also receieved a small telescope from a local camera shop (I think it cost £11).

A gap of many years followed as I drifted into other interests, which were all outdoor related, so the night sky, whether I was fishing on a Scottish Loch or bivvying out in the Cairngorms was always there.

Became fully switched on when I learnt of Kielder, an area not so far from where I live, gained a profile for its dark sky status.

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Hi SGL Members, (New and Old).

Since i have nothing better to do on a sunday afternoon, i was thinking back to when i had my first scope. I had it in the sales after xmas.

It was only a 60mm refractor made by celestron. Previously, i had never owned a scope before. I didn't know what to look for, or how to see things in the night sky.

The scope came with a stellarium software.....so i installed it, became familiar with it, then used it to see if i could find Jupiter. Once I found Jupiter through the scope, ( albeit quite small ) I was hooked.

All these years looking up at the stars, and not realizing I could have been looking at another planet or a Galaxy millions of light years away!

2 months later i got myself a reflector. I wanted to see more.

What a frustrating, but wonderful hobby.

So if i get the question of WHAT STARTED IT ALL? I can honestly say viewing Jupiter.

I would be interested of how YOU became hooked on astronomy, where it be by chance,..through a friend..something you viewed....or, if you purposely set out to take up this Hobby of "Wonder and Intrigue" ?.

Gary

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Grew up in the 1960s with the Apollo moonshots going on. I guess I'm not going to be the only one to use that excuse. Spent most of the intervening years with nothing more than a pair of 7x50 binos, and do not regret that, but am glad to now finally have a half-way decent scope to see slightly larger views.

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Always been interested in anything like this, wondered about it a few years ago and never did anything. Then again couple years ago and still nothing. Then last year while in Turkey I looked through a guys telescope at a 'star' and was presented with Saturn and its rings, and it just blew my mind, Id seen it countless times in pictures and tv but to see it with my actual eye just was just amazing and it changed me and made me want to see what was going on out there.

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Sleeping outside in a hammock in the summertime under beautiful dark Suffolk skies aged about six , spent more time wondering about those little lights than sleeping . . . :p

Being dragged out of bed on 21st July 1969 to watch the first steps of Neil Armstrong . . . :shocked:

Seeing a picture of the "Horsehead Nebula" 40 years ago and thinking " I want to do that " . . . . and waited 40 years to do it . . . :rolleyes:

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Some great stories.

Since I can remember I have been interested in the Universe. My practical interest in astronomy began one afternoon procrastinating at work when I googled, "Can you see a galaxy through a home telescope" as I had no idea of their capability at the amateur end of the scale.

When I found out you could I researched and ordered a 200P. I've had such a great time with it all so far.

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-7 years old and not watching Neil Armstrong on the moon! :D

Don't know exactly what age but it was probably 12 or 13ish when my parents bought me a very cheap refracting telescope. Really poor quality scope, but good enough to be able to see the rings of Saturn and the north & south equatorial bands on Jupiter - if you REALLY screwed up your eyes, that is! :D It was enough to get me interested and I followed that through with a degree in astrophysics at Cardiff Uni. However, not once in my 3 years at Cardiff did I look through a telescope. After uni, I kinda left it all behind for about 8 or 9 years, then started following Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog and slowly got interested again. Last December I decided I was going to take it up again, and last week I bought my first proper telescope and joined up here! :D

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Some lovely stories here and thank you for sharing them.

My own story is not nearly so interesting. I've never seen the BBC's Sky at Night, never seen a Brian Cox show but the seed has always been there. I had read many of the books (Sagan, Hawking), knew a number of the constellations and had a little general knowledge, but this was just part and parcel of being interested in stuff and the same could be said if it was about other areas in the humanities, arts or sciences. Then about 18 months ago, for no particular reason, I woke up with this burning need to know and see for myself, saved a little and bought my first telescope. The flame still burns but now stronger than ever.

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I've always been aware of the stars and Moon, and from reading various science books and magazines (such as National Geographic) from a very early age I always wanted to know more. I made my own tiny refractor at about 7 from various lenses and magnifying glasses I had scrounged, but it was terrible in quality ;) At the age of about 10 I got myself a Tasco 60mm f/15 refractor on a relatively poor alt-az yoke mount with slo-mo in altitude, with an integrated finder that flipped a little mirror into the light cone.

At 13 I sold on the Tasco to a schoolmate and I sank every penny I had and two summers worth of working into a Solis Scientific 8.75" f/5.7 newt on an undriven GEM, which was put onto a pier in the lawn. No observatory - I had to lift in and out the GEM every time I wanted to use it. The eyepieces weren't so good with a pair of 25mm and 18mm Kellners. It was still good enough for my seeing Stephan's Quintet and the Schumacher-Levy bruises on Jupiter. I used that scope on and off for the the next few years until I went off to college, and the parents moved house so I lost the pier.

About the time I completed college and started work, I saw that Lidl had the 70mm ETX scope for sale for pretty cheap, so I got that and played around with it for a while. That scope got nicked along with my PC from the accommodation I was living in at the time :( and I didn't replace that scope for some time. As the parents moved house again the OTA from my newt was being thrown out so I rescued it and built a very basic dob mount for it, but with the eyepieces I had from the ETX it became pretty obvious that the primary had a turned down edge as well as some pretty major astigmatism, but it was nice to see the double-double again. Four years ago, I saw a 6" LXD75 for sale for a cheap price (broken battery holder) less than an hour's drive from where I was living. So I went and bought that, and it was a lot better than the 8" newt for seeing detail on Jupiter even though it was a little undercorrected. The goto was a revelation for me, but I could starhop anyway and I already knew my way fairly well around the sky, but the goto meant I could see more in a shorter space of time - very useful when working meant a lot of pressure on my time.

I wanted to get a travelscope as I was spending quite a lot of time away from home both for work and to visit my then GF in the next city over, and I saw a 1/10 wave mirror for sale on SGL from Linton Guise. When that arrived, it was still in the original well-used OTA :D I stuck that OTA on the LXD-75 and I got some beautiful views of some old friends with it. The travelscope idea has stalled, but I will revisit it if/when I get the 8.75" mirror refigured.

Since then I've invested far too much cash in an 80mm ED grab'n'go scope and AZ3; PST; 70mm ED airline portable on mini-porta mount; my various pairs of binoculars; I took advantage of the Meade EOL sales to get the SWA eyepieces, and then the UWAs.

So all I am doing at the moment is getting equipment for my other hobbies (kayak and mountainbike) up to being self-sufficient for those once again. And waiting for clear skies - the past few years have appeared to be pretty poor for any opportunities for me to go and get decent observing. I haven't had the 8" newt out since November :'(

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42 years ago with an old pair of bino's ... a table placed by the bedroom window so I could lie on my back for looking up at the zenith ... parents used to worry as it was always a problem getting up in the morning for school.

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