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


alan potts
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Looking up the night sky on the few clear nights and wishing I could make sense of the night sky. I think I was about 8 or 9.

Then when Doctor Who returned in 2005 I became interested in Science Fiction which eventually led on to an interest in astronomy. I watched loads of documentaries on space and just last year I bought my first telescope. a Sky-Watcher Mercury 707.

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always had a mild interest in science although never enough to actually do anything about it. Then in 2011 a combination of circumstances put me in a position that i could get a scope and i realised i didn't need an observatory type scope to see things so I took the plunge. My biggest regret is not the fact that I was 50 yrs old when I started but that I missed the aussie skies I had growing up with. I was lucky enough (in a round about sort of way) to spend 4/5 mths back there last yr though :)

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I have always been a sci-fi fan and have always been interested in the heavens. I have often thought about investing in a scope but always had other priorities.

I then worked with a certain Mark Thompson (the peoples astronomer) for a year and we would occasionally talk scopes and observatories in the pub, but at that time my daughter was on her way and again scopes were put on the back burner.

Finally at 45 I decided it was time to buy a scope, which my wife then bought for me. I was so excited about it coming that I camped outside the courier depot in Epsom waiting for the van to return as we weren't in when they tried to deliver it. The office stayed open for me as I had told them it was a present for my son!!!

A little over a year on - I have 3 scopes, one of which (the ZS66) has been to South Africa and to Spain...

My wife now thinks I spend too much time looking for scopes on eBay and ABS, and not enough tme outside looking through them...

I am enjoying this hobby!

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I guess I've always had a general interest in science since school and college and I've always read various popular science books and watched tv documentaries. But I think what really triggered my specific interest in astronomy was down to an evolutionary biologist of all things.

I discovered Richard Dawkins about eight years ago and even though I'd studied biology at GCSE and A-level I didn't actually know or begin to understand evolution until I started reading RD. It was then a natural progression backwards in time from learning about the origins of life to learning about the origins of the cosmos.

My twin sister studied astrophysics at uni and one christmas about five or six years ago I remember suggesting taking a drive up to the beacons NP to have a look at the night sky. Even though it was clear there was almost a full moon so we didn't stay very long. But another opportunity arose and we tried again and this time we had an amazing sky. She pointed out a few constellations to me (cepheus, pegasus, taurus and the seven sisters cluster), it was all naked eye stuff because we didn't even have a pair of bins but needless to say the astronomy bug was planted at that point :-) The following april we decided to merge our birthday presents and get a scope. We drove to Cross Hands and had a good deal on a second hand C6-N and CG5 from Telescope Planet (sadly now ceased trading) and the rest is history.

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It was when I borrowed Leslie Peltier's Guideposts to the Stars back in about 1978 from the library. I remember going outside that night and yep....there were the Pleiades. He wrote in such an evocative way, I was hooked.

I still have the book...it's about 35 years overdue. The fine's going to be huge.

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I was given a plastic kit telescope when I was somewhere around eight years old and was probably hooked at that point. The telescope wasn't up to much as I recall, but it came with a poster of the Moon about two feet square. I had that on my wall for years.

James

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The two thread which have now been joined were started almost at the same time by pure accident, sorry for the doubling up whoever got there first. Some nice answers and a good few as a result of the Moon landings, I like the reply from Davo, Interested pretty much all my life aged 15. The small red plastic Refractor if it is with it's box and in good condition is the sort of thing that I could see showing up on the Antiques Road Show in 40 years time, with people wanting to pay good money for it. I also see Dixon got in on the act for a few older members, like myself. There were not so many places to get things from in those days, I remember Fullerscopes was there but they were for the well heeled. I know one thing the UK skies were darker then. Alan.

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Sitting with my best mate at the bottom of my parents farms fields having a sneaky ciggy (NOT recommended) listening to War of the Worlds on a ghetto blaster & gazing up.........That started it all for me.

Edited by nephilim
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I know cheap scopes get a bad press, as they can put people off, but in our case, a £35 scope from Jessops was to blame. Just an impulse buy while checking out camera lenses. One view of the moon was all it took! The mount was wobbly, but it goes down as one of the best things I ever got for under £100.

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Couldn't put an exact time to it. I remember when I was 7 or so looking having a very old encyclopedia and being fascinated with the astronomy section. I mainly just looked at the amazing illustrations of nebula etc.

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When i was about 7 yrs old i was out in the gartden with my dad looking at the moon with my eyes and i noticed 3 stars in a line in the sky. I asked my dad what they were and he had no idea. The next day he went out and bought me a pair of 2nd hand 10x50 bins and a planisphere. Ive never looked back, only up. Having a childhood crush on Heather Couper didnt help either,LOL.

I still have those bins............but man are they heavy.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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The Brian Cox effect is what made me become mad keen on all things astronomy. I was 41 years old when the first BBC Stargazing Live show aired and that was the tipping point from having just a passing interest to being a full on stargazer. I had also watched the 'Wonders' series & pretty much anything else astro related although I rarely watched The Sky at Night back then.

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Might still be useful as a guidescope Lee. Nice and light. :grin: :grin: .

Ron.

Lol, I think it would perform admirably :rolleyes: next to no weight increase on the set up. Medium focal length and if the sky is cloudy I can just pop a slide in and guide on that.......

That's a nice bit of kit, Lee......Wonder how it would look on an eq3 mount? :laugh:

Gary

The colour scheme might clash so you would have to pimp out the eq3 in a nice Matt red finish and gold decals :grin:

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The two thread which have now been joined were started almost at the same time by pure accident, sorry for the doubling up whoever got there first. Some nice answers and a good few as a result of the Moon landings, I like the reply from Davo, Interested pretty much all my life aged 15. The small red plastic Refractor if it is with it's box and in good condition is the sort of thing that I could see showing up on the Antiques Road Show in 40 years time, with people wanting to pay good money for it. I also see Dixon got in on the act for a few older members, like myself. There were not so many places to get things from in those days, I remember Fullerscopes was there but they were for the well heeled. I know one thing the UK skies were darker then. Alan.

Yes, the two threads arrived almost simultaneously Alan, and were noticed by Steve Ward very early on, who suggested they be merged.

It made perfect sense to merge them, so I did.

Both were good subjects on the same theme, so they have not lost any value through merging them.

I'm sure it will draw many posts of great interest to all, I hope so, and every contributer enjoys the memories stirred by this very interesting topic.

Ron.

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To be honest, I didn't notice the other thread until I posted mine. I'm sure the answers will keep coming from young and old. Makes interesting reading. Thank you Ron for merging them.

Gary

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To be honest, I didn't notice the other thread until I posted mine. I'm sure the answers will keep coming from young and old. Makes interesting reading. Thank you Ron for merging them.

Gary

Cheers Gary, moderating does include helping things along and oiling the wheels of the forum :grin: .

Ron.

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I remember distinctly being very young, about 7 or 8. Someone must have told me how far away the stars are, and how long light takes to reach us.

I stood under the dark clear skies of my back garden shining my torch back at the stars, so that my own light could make the journey too.

Have always had a profound understanding of our irrelevance in our own galaxy, never mind the universe.

Have always wanted a telescope. Now i have one. Probably won't ever be without one from here onwards.

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Street lamps were few, and far between when I was younger. Also.... power cuts became the norm most nights, I remember my mum always sending me to the local shop for candles...HA. Wish I owned the telescope I got now....THEN!

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started way back in the early 1960's .

with this starbook.jpg

some of this charlesfranks.jpg and a liberal helping of a grandfather who could point out most of the northern constellations.

later excitement at the moon landings then dissapointment at not seeing Neil Armstrong when he visited langholm in 72 all shaped my interest. like most i drifted away for a few years.

Got my first "telescope" a Tasco of all things , when i stopped smoking in the 1980's. Hunted for and found comet halley after weeks of trying with an old pair of 10X50 binos - still one of the most exciting experiences ive had stargazing. lost interest again then got back into it again in the last couple of years.

ive said it before but its true, the thrill never leaves you with this hobby.

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Well I have never seen the books before so that new for me. I think Trazor makes a good point, Dark Skies, I think there is a greater chance of wanting to see what's there if live in a rural area with dark skies when we are young. It is a long time since I have been to London but I guess many nights there the sky shows little more than 2nd-3rd magnitude stars. I was rather surprised watching the Sky at Night last year that there is a society in one of the major parks, that must be terrible with the sky glow, I take my hat off to them, I bet a power cut comes high on their wish list. Alan

Edited by alan potts
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