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.
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… >