Thursday, 20 October 2011

Astronomy from the 1950's, and my analogue laptop...

Digging around in a charity shop the other day I found an interesting book titled:

The Modern Children's Library of Knowledge 
Book Two 
The World we live in.

This book was published in 1957, and towards the end of the book was a chapter about astronomy. 

It contained a wealth of astronomy information and most interesting to me a large collection of 1950's era illustrations.

I love these old astronomy pictures. 

Why don't we have more illustrations like these in modern journals and magazines.
Today's astronomy  magazines just don't interest me.

Too many adverts for a start, not enough "amateur" articles, and way too "glossy"......

I personally like black and white illustrations, be they photos or drawings. 

Saying that some of the most interesting illustrations can sometimes be in full colour:

In my perfect astronomy magazine I would like nothing more than to see the typesetting done on an ageing  typewriter, and all the illustrations courtesy of the 1950's and 60's..... 

There's a lot of Luddite in me I'm afraid..  :0)

Just to prove the point, here's an old  picture of my workshed with typewriter at the ready, or "analogue laptop" as I like to call it....  :0)

 I realise I'm a bit of a hypocrite as I have computer, but give me a  typewriter, planisphere and a star map any day. 

Also the clock drive on my Tal1 Newtonian is high tech enough for me.

Long live low tech .....


  1. OMG Pembs you did it again! Your posting hit the nail on the head! I really enjoyed the low tech theme - it is a quality way of life.

    Please keep writing this stuff....analogue laptop, a planisphere, a star map, low tech, 50's astro books. I totally enjoy your musings!

    Be well!

  2. It's good to know I am not alone like you I approach my hobby on the simple but profound side!

  3. Ah! I can remember the Astronomy sections of my much thumbed set of Arthur Mee's Encyclopedia

  4. Hi SUG, thanks for the comments... :0)

    I really enjoy the low tech.

    I've had a go with the GOTO drives and computer software, plus dipped my toe into astro imaging, but for me it's star charts, drawings and setting circles everytime.

    If the setting circles are made of brass... all the better...!! :0)

    With regards the approach to my hobby, it's great to have a kindred spirit way over in the "The Silver State"

    Clear Skies SUG....

    Mark :0)

  5. Hi Geoff, now your talking, I well remember those Arthur Mee Encyclopedias, and the astronomy information they contained really inspired me as a youngster....

    One of my favourite books (which I don't have at the moment!!) has to be the Larousse Encyclopedia of Astronomy, from I think 1959.

    The illustrations in this book by Astronomer/Artist Lucien Rudaux are amazing..

    There's an idea for a future Pembs Astronomer post.."The astronomer/artist Lucien Rudaux"

    Hope all is well with you Geoff...

    Looking forward to the meeting on the 1st Nov.....hopefully see you there.....

    Clear Skies


  6. Hey Pembs - it's late evening here and I am doing a "low tech" observe of Jupiter with Europa in transit! Telescope, eyepiece, filter, observing chair, and hot tea that's it!

    OK I did use my son's laptop to check the Jupiter ephemeris on the Sky & Telescope website and NOAA weather report....

    Is that Ok?

  7. No it's not ok.... only naughty people use laptops .... LOL :0))

    Only joking!!!

    Hi SUG ..Hope you got some good observing of Jupiter, was it with the CR150?.... Through my CR150 the Jovian transits were the best I have ever seen through any scope..

    Believe me SUG if I had a laptop with ephemeris there would definitely be a place for it in the observatory....:0)

    I've just finished getting the observatory ready for observing Jupiter, I guess the time is right, what with the opposition at the weekend...

    Talk to you soon

    Mark ..... :0)

  8. OK Pembs I will not use my son's laptop a PC OK? I do not have a 3G/4G phone so no data link there. No magazine subscription either.......

    How is the Patio Universe Guy suppose to figure out what is going on in the universe? Moon phases, planet & solar, deep sky objects etc positions are easily known and understood via experience but this moon thing with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune requires some outside help!!!!! Comets come and go and I require help to hunt them down upon their arrivel in to our neck of the woods!

    Can I go on the computer just a little bit?

    Oh I really liked your bit on the setting circles - no doubt you have circles of brass....!!!!!!!!:)

    See ya.

  9. I don't live a totally digital life, but I'm hooked enough. My laptop goes just about everywhere with me, even the telescope deck at the club observatory.

    Still, planispheres and printed star charts will not go out of style on my watch. Laptops get fried. Planisphere or star chart, just wipe off the dew, and they're good as new. Well, maybe slightly worse for wear, but usable long after the newest computer or smart phone is obsolete by it's next generation...

  10. Hi Paulie, I totally agree with you on the planispheres and printed charts not going out of style....

    A laptop has some wonderful uses and I've had one here but it died on my a few months ago.

    I also had an iTouch this time last year, but I found it was making my eyesight bad what with staring at the small it had to go...even though it was really useful !!! ..

    I guess the iPad would be a better buy....

    I suppose I dip my toe into the digital world, but by choice I've got an analogue head. :0)

    Occasionally I still use candles instead of electric light...

    Can you image the wonderful night skies we would have if the whole world had to use candle light again...

    Clear Skies