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Mark at Beaufort

Sky at Night magazine April 2009

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I just bought this magazine and watched a vintage episode from May 1970 showing the personal observatory of Frank Acfield with his 10" Newt and 4" refractor. At the end of the episode I was left thinking is he still alive? Does the observatory still exist? Perhaps someone might remember him especially from his local area. Any info would be of interest.

Mark

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Funny that Mark as i watched it this morning as well , Roofing Felt and Chicken Wire :) !!!

Its funny how little things have changed in 40 odd years though.

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Hi - I'm new here!

I bought the magazine and watched Frank and Patrick from 1970 and was hooked on the episode. I have googled Frank and, unfortunately, the only thing I can find is a 'Frank Acfield' fund set up recently for 'Astronomy in Newcastle'. So it seems Frank is no longer with us. You couldn't help but like the guy - I often play back the episode just to hear Frank talk - and the way he said 'Patrick' in every sentence makes you feel so warm towards him.

A great bloke and great observatory.

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I watched it today as well.

Very modern equipment for it's day. Loved the way the astrophotography is done on slides.

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Just watched this. Fascinating stuff, but it didn't half reminded me how much amateur Astronomy was a Do It Yourself hobby back then.

I'll guess the guy has passed away by now. He looked in his late 60's and that was filmed 40 years ago.

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Wasn't it brilliant. I loved all his little home made gizmos, and the way he just chucked his eyepiece into his coat pocket. What was really infectious was his enthusiasm

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Wasn't it brilliant. I loved all his little home made gizmos, and the way he just chucked his eyepiece into his coat pocket. What was really infectious was his enthusiasm

I do that all the time. I hasten to add, I own Meade Plossls rather than Televue Ethos.

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Same here Dave, I pick the 3 or 4 eyepieces I think I'll want to use for a session and put one in each pocket.

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Maybe Frank passed away last year. A fund was set up in his name to promote astronomy in schools. Pretty cool!

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I do that all the time. I hasten to add, I own Meade Plossls rather than Televue Ethos.

Well I shove my Ethos in my pocket too - with the covers on - (big pocket :)).

I also enjoyed watching this programme. I loved the way that Patrick Moore - with all his expertise and received-pronunciation accent - was utterly respectful towards Frank Acfield. There's absolutely no side on him is there? What a nice man. No wonder so many people are fond of him.

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Just watched that episode myself.

I noted those coordinates that he had on the door of his observatory and put them into Google Earth.

Appears to be just a field now with new housing around it.

I wonder what became of his obsevatory and scopes.

Jeff

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I ran across this thread while doing a Google search, a bit of a nostalgia trip actually. We lived next door to Frank Acfield, in Great Lime Road, Forest Hall, from 1947 to 1953. He introduced my brother and me to the wonders of the universe and started our life-long interest in astronomy. I can remember looking through his telescope at the moon, and being shown a projection of the sun with lots of spots! (I was in junior school at the time, and can remember boring my class with a trip round the solar system, based on a "Smatterbook" with 100 facts on astronomy, stuff from the family encyclopaedia and Bonestell and Ley's marvellous book "The Conquest of Space". :) )

I checked on Google maps, the houses are still there (though with much new building around them), but there's no sign of the observatory. I was pleased to see that there is now a fund in his memory - certainly he was well known in the area, as he was for years the astronomy correspondent of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. If anyone is looking for more information about him, perhaps the Chronicle might have it (I haven't looked yet). I'd love to know where I can get the DVD with his "Sky at Night " appearance - we can't watch BBC TV progs. in Luxembourg for copyright reasons.

Coincidentally, when my brother first went to grammar school (not in Newcastle) one of his mates was a nephew of Patrick Moore.

I hope this information will interest someone, anyway.

Naomi

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Same here Dave, I pick the 3 or 4 eyepieces I think I'll want to use for a session and put one in each pocket.

Me too - but the overcoat I usually wear is a XL rain mac, as it's dust free in dem pocketz. :)

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Thanks for the information Naomi. It was a very interesting program. You may be able to get a back order from the magazine.

The address is

Sky at Night Magazine,

PO Box 279, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME9 8DF, UK

Also it might be worth sending a private message to Will Gater on this forum. He is a staff writer for the magazine.

Regards

Kevin

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:)Hi Naomi,

I have a copy of the April 2009 Coverdisc which has the Classic Episode from 1970 on it. I can't use the CDs with my computer and they are just sitting in a draw - you are very welcome to it. PM me your address and I'll happily post it to Luxembourg.

Liz

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Glad it was of interest. I also found that there are letters from Frank J. Acfield in the Milton Humason archive for 1950 - I wonder if it's the same person?

Being a newbie, I'm still working out how to find Will Gater's profile so I can PM him.

Thanks Liz/Gataki, I've left you a PM, hope it will work out.

Naomi

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Glad it was of interest. I also found that there are letters from Frank J. Acfield in the Milton Humason archive for 1950 - I wonder if it's the same person?

Being a newbie, I'm still working out how to find Will Gater's profile so I can PM him.

Thanks Liz/Gataki, I've left you a PM, hope it will work out.

Naomi

If you click on the link below it will open up a PM to him

http://stargazerslounge.com/private.php?do=newpm&u=14383

Regards

Kevin

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Hello Naomi it is really interesting to put a personal addition to the video that came with the magazine. I hope Will G gets in touch it would be nice to read a small update article in the mag.

Hope you enjoy the CD when you receive it - I am sure it will bring back memories.

Put an update on the forum when you have viewed it.

Mark

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Thanks, Mark, I'll do that (though it may be a few days yet).

Naomi

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Hi Naomi,

The CD was posted in very sunny Sussex this afternoon. :)

Hope it reaches you safely.

Liz

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Hi Naomi,

The CD was posted in very sunny Sussex this afternoon. :)

Hope it reaches you safely.

Liz

Thanks Liz, I'll let you know when it arrives - N

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Just to say, I got the CD this morning - thanks very much, Liz - and watched the prog. straight away. Brilliant! He was such a nice man, and the observatory was just how I remembered it - except smaller, of course, as I was only a shrimpy 10-year-old when we moved away :). I loved the wall-mounted darkroom too, I don't know if he'd already got that set up in the early years, I certainly don't remember it. Maybe I just didn't notice it, I wasn't much interested in cameras then, I just wanted to see things.

He and Patrick Moore made a good pair, and it was nice how Patrick made the transitions to direct information for the viewers without ever pushing Frank out of the picture. (it feels funny writing "Frank" - my parents were sticklers for proper behaviour and I only ever called him "Mr Acfield")

I can't believe how he's just slipped off the radar, he was obviously reasonably known in amateur astronomy circles 40 years ago (as well as publishing papers in "The Astronomer" magazine, corresponding with Milton Humason and writing a column for the local paper). I checked out the Fund, but couldn't find any details of who set it up.

Well, I'm of to south-west France next week, to a place with fantastic un-light-polluted skies. I shall think of old Frank Acfield as I train my bins on the moon, search for galaxies, watch satelites gliding over and lie on my back watching the Perseids streaking down. The glories of the universe indeed, and be damned to the midges!

All the best -- Naomi

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