Mark versus the Clouds

If I was to come up with a theme for Connie’s stellar (this pun will be so worth it at the end of this post) Christmas present buying for me it would probably be wish fulfilment. She got me a drumkit a few years back and this year she got me a telescope. For the people who want to know it is a 76/700 Newtonian Reflector Telescope with 4mm, 12.5mm and 20mm eyepieces and an AZ mount, which was all specifications that I didn’t know about until Connie gifted me the ‘scope (which is what the cool kids call them day to day). 

I have been a keen star gazer for years. Literally, maybe since I was a kid. I remember one of my favourite books I read all the time when I was a child was one about the Solar System. It grabbed in all the planets (all nine planets back then), the speculated tenth planet (which is now the hundreds of dwarf planets), the ISS which was a dream, the space telescope which was a white elephant, and the galaxy. It detailed all the galaxies biggest objects, and it detailed our probes, the ones sent to the planets and moons, and the stories behind them. A full double page on the moon postulated the large-object collision with the Earth that is now the accepted theory for the creation of our only satellite. I gazed up from my home at the stars and identified the plough, orion, and the other ones that are too hard to remember now, and I wished I could see them better.

And now I can. Or at least I could if the weather wasn’t being a naughty bissom. 

Anytime I have mentioned to someone that I got a scope they’ve said “Oh, you’re in a good place for that now then!” which is absolutely true. Only a few weeks ago I’d been out walking Frank and happened upon Mars, Venus, Jupiter and it’s moons, staring at me in a cold pre-6am morning. Since getting the scope I’ve had the chance to see maybe seven stars (I only managed to identify one) since setting it up post-Christmas, but don’t think that means I haven’t enjoyed it. 

There is something that I have realised upon getting “into” it and that is just how far “out of it” I am – if I was excited before (and a little daunted, to be honest) even the small pin-pricks of light I’ve seen have excited me. The best night, where I got a great look at Betelgeuse, I lost the view between changing eye pieces due to cloud cover. If anything, patience is the thing that seems to be key to the scope. At the moment, I am only inside the house, having a look out the window in the dark in our spare bedroom, but soon I will head out the back of the house. Thanks to the way the house is set up, I can look north, south east and west without having to be seen by anyone, unlike previous houses which would have meant I’d have been in the front garden, looking like a nerd.

I think that this will take time. A long time to get good at it, but my first tentative steps have been exciting and difficult. I also haven’t even looked at the moon yet, as it’s currently so low in the night’s sky it doesn’t rise until 5am or something. 

This is easily the first part in a long running series of posts, and I am excited to actually get to see some cool stuff.