David’s Astronomy Pages
Hello. Welcome to my amateur astronomy web site. I am an amateur astronomer based
in Manchester, England. I have been observing from my garden since 1999, and am now
just about finding my way around the night sky!
Astronomy is about the only area of science in which the amateur can still make a real contribution. Amateur astronomers have, for many centuries, made significant contributions to our understanding and knowledge of our own solar system, galaxy and universe. Just look to the likes of William Herschel, who on the 13 March 1781 discovered the planet Uranus from his back garden in New King Street, Bath. Was he a tutored scientist? Perhaps a Professor at a University? No, he was a musician, but he was also a very dedicated amateur astronomer who discovered the first new planet in the solar system since ancient times. Herschels lifetime of observations, more than ably assisted by his sister Caroline, produced his famous ‘review of the heavens’ and contributed substantially to late 18th and early 19th century astronomy. More recently in the 20th and 21st centuries, the dedicated (and successful) super nova hunter, Tom Boles, the world famous astrophotographer Damian Peach, comet hunter George Alcock, Thomas Bopp (discovered Comet Hale-Bopp in 1995 with Alan Hale), Sir Patrick Moore and many others all have one thing in common. They are amateur astronomers, who have day jobs that are nothing to do with astronomy but who have made serious and significant contributions to astronomy and our understanding of the cosmos. The point is, if they can do it, so can you and I.
Of course, amateur astronomy doesn’t have to be about serious science and making discoveries. The main reason a lot of amateur astronomers are drawn to this hobby is simply to enjoy the breathtaking majesty of the night sky, and it doesn’t require huge expensive telescopes either. A small pair of binoculars will provide glorious wide field views of the moon, constellations, clusters and even the odd galaxy. That said, decent quality telescopes are now widely available with prices to match all budgets, and a telescope will really open up the night sky. The rings around Saturn, the cloud bands and other features on Jupiter, the marking on Mars, galaxies, nebulae, more detailed views of the moon, clusters and so on become readily apparent with a telescope. Then there is the peace and tranquility that simply being under a star studded sky brings, and of course the awe of that first view of Saturn! Naked eye, binoculars or telescope, it doesn’t matter, just get out there, have a look and enjoy what has to be one of the most magnificent vistas in Nature. Soon you too might be telling family, friends and work colleagues, ‘Yes, my hobby is astronomy, and it’s great’.
Happy observing – and clear skies !
Do you need to know the magnification of a given lens when used with your telescope? Don’t know the focal ratio for your ‘scope? To find out what they are, simply click here and try out my handy lens calculator. (Requires Microsoft Excel to be installed your computer)
Please note: Many of the small pictures in this web site can be clicked on to take you to larger, easier to view versions. If you place your mouse pointer on a picture and the pointer changes into a hand shape then that picture links to a larger version. All photographs on this website are the property and copyright of David Mottershead, and cannot be copied, reproduced, or otherwise used or downloaded. All rights reserved