A be­gin­ner’s guide to ex­plor­ing the won­ders of the night sky (warn­ing: it’s ad­dic­tive!)

There are many good rea­sons for liv­ing in the plat­te­land, and a clear view of the night sky ranks near the top. Alan Duggan puts his eye to a tele­scope and be­gins a jour­ney that takes him bil­lions of years from home.

go! Platteland - - CONTENTS -

Look up. If you’re lucky enough to live in a small town or on a farm, and turn off all the lights on a clear evening, you’ll be greeted by a spectacular view of the Milky Way, a spi­ral galaxy 100 000 light years across (in com­mon par­lance, about 946 073 047 258 080 000km) and home to our own rather mod­est so­lar sys­tem.

If you’re a well-ad­justed adult – that is, suf­fer­ing no delu­sions of grandeur or anti-Coper­ni­can lean­ings – this should be a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence. Ac­knowl­edg­ing that our blue and slightly trou­bled planet is not the cen­tre of the Uni­verse, let alone an ob­ject of cos­mic sig­nif­i­cance, is the first step to­wards your de­but as an au­then­tic plat­te­land as­tronomer.

Ex­cited yet? Here’s the thing: ex­plor­ing the mys­ter­ies and won­ders of the cos­mos doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, you can kick off your am­a­teur astronomy ac­tiv­ity by the sim­ple act of go­ing out­side and look­ing up. Which re­turns us rather neatly to where we started… >

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