Friday, 27 May 2011

Binoculars, Peltier and Lawn Astronomy....

“Were I to write out one prescription designed to alleviate at least some of the self-made miseries of mankind, it would read like this: “One gentle dose of starlight to be taken each clear night just before retiring.” ..Leslie C Peltier

It's been really quiet here of late in Simpson Cross, not much observing as the weather has been really bad. The night skies that have appeared were not really that good for astronomical observations, I've spent the time available just observing with binoculars.

Newcomers to the hobby of astronomy invariably look for a telescope as their first instrument. This is false economy I feel.

I would suggest the humble binoculars everytime.
They're light, inexpensive and very portable..and there's loads to see in the night sky with them.

My favourite pair of 8x30's only cost £5. I used to have a very useful pair of 10X50's that only cost £1.50...they looked really rough , but the optics were fine.

If it's cloudy with no stars to view , read a book....that's what I do.....
As the weather has been playing up I have spent some of that lost observing time reading a brilliant book by a famous amateur astronomer, it's called The Starlight Nights  by Leslie C. Peltier .

I have to say this book captures my feelings about amateur astronomy perfectly.
The chapters I'm reading at the moment are based in the 1920's  and 30's.

It shows the reader a world were the pace of life was much slower.
A bygone age where our modern nightly orange glow of so called progress hadn't yet touched.

It seems to me with all our technological haste we are missing out on the simpler slower things of life.

The darkened night skies are one of these simplicities.
Leslie C Peltier's Starlight Nights reminds us to slow down.

I can't praise this book enough...

Famed comet hunter David H Levy gives a wonderfully succinct view of this book:
Many books explain how to observe the sky; Starlight Nights explains why.” 

Looking forward to warm summer nights
 Lawn astronomy
Hopefully the month of June will bring better night viewing than May. 
Summer is close, the nights are getting warmer and my annual " Lawn astronomy" season is close.... 
Let me explain:
Because most of the year seems to be cold, wet, windy...I guess you know what I mean....!!! , it's really nice to find a few weeks of the year when the ground is dry and the night time is hopefully warm & balmy. On these rare occasions I like to spend my nightly observing session simply lying in the back garden looking up at the stars overhead....
Often I wear headphones that are playing Jean Michell Jarre's  "Equinox" album.... 
This particular music and the beauty of the stars above, coupled with the warm evening,,, really is  therapeutic .......

Here's to a good summer ....
Clear skies   hopefully

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