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

alan potts

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I've probably posted this earlier in this thread but I was 9 years old when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and I strongly suspect that the coverage of the Apollo programme ignited my interest in space and astronomy. Actually I suspect it was the reports of the Apollo 8 mission in 1968 that grabbed my imagination first.

My secondary school had an astronomy club which I joined at age 11 or 12 and that built on the interest. I borrowed a small scope from a friend around that time and observed Jupiter over a couple of months with it.

The Viking missions to Mars in 1976 also made a big impact on the 16 year old me.

53 years later, I'm heavily committed to astronomy as a hobby. It won't go away I'm sure, even if I didn't own a scope :rolleyes2:


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4 hours ago, John said:

I've probably posted this earlier in this thread

I thought I had also ! but I cant find me !!!!
So --  I got into it about age8 +/- when I found a victorian looking book on optics in my g-ma's library, my dad left some lenses on a bench in his workshop -- and I found the Moon, Uranus and Neptune soon after :) - - 
Approx 2y later Patrick (later Sir) visited our new local astro soc. and a little later made Episode1 of S@N ! (April 1957), Sputnik 1 followed soon thereafter and the rest is history !
Gosh these sorts of topics make me I feel so old !  and usually the outside temperatures are a bit of a hazard, but so far this year has been quite clement :) in sw uk.


Edited by Malpi12
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I have always liked and been interested in space since I was a boy, 

watched all the documentaries on tv my whole life but never took the plunge to actually practising astronomy, 

Until one day……

Before I get in to this day in greater detail,

I need to explain to you a personal issue I have!

I buy things when I’m drunk, things at the time I have no use for but things that turn out to be very cool and useful 😂

Mid 2018, working in a office and religiously going the pub every Friday with the lads from the office as we got a early dart at 15:30. 

This was no normal Friday drink, it was George’s birthday….

I only need a excuse to let the tiger out of the cage! £150 down and a spinning head later I head home, I jump on the couch drunk as a sailor and out how the universe works on and fall asleep!

Recovering from my hang over my life continues as normal, I spend my weekend with the kids and go to work as normal…

Monday night comes, I feel violently sick. Seems I have caught a bug, I won’t be going in to work tomorrow I thought!

On waking Tuesday morning I call in sick, still feeling worse for wear. 

There’s a loud knock of the door, a bang even as I’m trying to rest on the couch.

Who the hell’s this I think? I jump up reluctantly, shuffle towards the door and reach for the handle and open it,

”will you sign for this mate?” DPD

believing it’s a neighbours parcel I sign and push the big box into the hallway, 

back to the couch I go for a hour feeling awful, 

I wonder who the package is for? My friend lives to the right and to the left of a very strange guy I am not too fond of.

I go to check… the parcel reads Nathan Ray????

I am so confused 😕 what is this big brown box?

I get a knife to slice the package 📦 open and discover my first love, my first views of the cosmos…. Celestron power seeker 130p.

I had only ordered this before falling asleep with a spinning head (at the time a item I could not afford) and forgot all about it as it was a drunken move!

There is a moral to this story…..

keep my access to money limited when drunk as I act on impulse and end up scraping by until payday😂😂😂.

Best thing I ever did!


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  • 2 weeks later...

I started getting into long exposure photography about 8 years ago through a Flickr group. Then I developed a healthy obsession with photographing the ISS and it sort of snowballed from there.

But - ironically perhaps - I’m almost purely into visual and just don’t enjoy astrophotography at all (except for a bit of planetary)!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was about 9 or 10 when I became interested. Started with binoculours, and then moved on to a 60mm refractor (possibly Trashco, memory fades but it was actually ok).

Then got older, discovered rock music, motorbikes, girls, all sorts of fun things, then astronomy took a back seat.

Parents wanted me to go to Uni but I'd had enough of eductation and joined the army.  Even worse, I enlisted instead of trying to get on an officers cadre. My Mum was mortified, but I think Dad was secretly pleased that I had grown a backbone.

Left the Army at 21 with no qualifications to my name and decided I needed to do something about that. I got quite a decent job working in a control room for a security company, and used the quiet time on shift to hit the books for an OU course.  Being interested in astronomy, geology, meteorology etc I signed on for an undergraduate course in Planetary Science, which is a suitably vague mix of all these disciplines and more.  I finished this in 3 1/2 years, almost as fast as full time study while holding down a full time job - to this day I am proud of that - and I achieved a 1st class parchment.  I took a year out while I changed jobs and got myself a profession, then signed on to do a Masters in Celestial Mechanics.  This was a bit of a mistake as it turned out to be almost pure maths which was a bit if a chore, but I finished that in 2 years and earned an MSc to go after my name.

I retired a few years ago and was beginning to chafe a bit with boredom, so at the suggestion of my daughter I have got back into it.  Observing on the good nights, lots of reading on the cloudy ones.  Keeps me quietly busy, holds my interest and keeps the grey matter well exercised.

I've idly thought about doing a Doctorate now I have both time and wherewithall, but I'm  too fugly and not nerdy enough to ever appear on The Sky at Night.

Edited by Roy Cropper
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I was into astronomy as soon as I could gaze up! Looking at all those pretty lights had me hooked, but no one around me was bothered, couldn’t even borrow a pair of binos, so was into girls, fighting, football, fighting, yeah I had the four biggest bullies in my class! But lying out on a huge metal pipe going across a nearby field, gazing up with hardly any light pollution.

I only got my first serious scope when I met up with Keiron McGrath and his wife Anne, as they had the first telescope shop in Wellington, looking through the shop window I could make out another astronomical figure…the price! The only way I could afford it, I was divorced and have two kids to pay for, was to become Keirons maintenance worker at his small holding, did that for fifteen years and amassed nearly his entire stock!

nowadays I’m suffering the cold, so don’t go out so much or for so long, solar gazing is more my interest at the moment plus other hobbies.

But I’ve just bought another scope….


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