My Astronomy Background

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I am just an average working class guy with an interest in Astronomy

I love to observe and share the majestic universe with others. I have no degree in astrophysics, I am not a walking hard drive full of statistics and formulas, and I can’t look up in the sky and recognize all of the constellations by name(I try however). I do own a large telescope, a book full of star charts, and I have the patience sometimes required to find an object I have never actually seen before.

I have created this website to share this hobby of mine with like-minded people. I have been an amateur astronomer for 26 years now! My love for astronomy started when I was in Grade 6 (1992 – Age 12) in my primary school’s library when I discovered some Science and Astronomy books that contained photos of planets, nebulae, clusters and galaxies. I was extremely curious about my discovery and immediately wanted to know more about the beautiful photos that I saw. Where did they come from? What was their purpose? Where could one find and view these astronomical objects? Just there I started looking up into the Night Sky. Exploring the majestic Universe with my eyes, wanting to know more and more about all these objects I read about in the library books. When I was still in school, I would sometime just lie in my bed at night, with the curtains pulled open and stare at the stars and the moon until I eventually fell asleep.

Well since then, I have come a long way as an Amateur Astronomer. I have been involved in many astronomical activities and have learned a lot. One of these activities being at the Boyden Observatory situated at Maselspoort just outside Bloemfontein. At the time I was involved in assisting with public open evenings, for both the local ASSA centre and the Friends of Boyden up until 2001. I dont live in Bloemfontein anymore, but from time to time I still make use of the 13″ Alvin Clark Refractor telescope at Boyden Observatory for astrophotography purposes and research.

More recently I have been involved in an International collaboration between South Africa and Italy in measuring the distance of the Moon and The Planet Mars to Earth via the Parallax method. This contribution earned me a ASSA merit award. The article was published in both the European Journal of Physics and the June 09 MNASSA. Read More >

Currently I am a member of The Garden Route Astronomical Society centre, and the centres Observing Officer and custodian of the club telescopes. I am also a member of ASSA national. If you get the MNASSA, be sure to check out some of my astrophotography images in there from time to time. Alternatively, visit the ASSA website to download the latest MNASSA issue. Link – MNASSA Download Page >

The best things I enjoy as an amateur astronomer is taking photos of celestial bodies, and showing the beauty of the night sky to people thru my telescope. Astrophotography has found a special place in my heart. There is nothing more relaxing to me than a good observing or astrophotograpy session after a hard days work. Weather allowing of course. Some of my best astro photos are published in local astronomy club newsletters around South Africa and in MNASSA as already mentioned. Some of them can also be seen on websites thru out the Internet.

My best advice to all amateur astronomers out there starting out in Astronomy or Astrophotograpy as a hobby is to read, read and read! It doesn’t matter if it is in books or on the internet. I still learn new things every day. It is also important to become practically & actively involved in astronomy. Theory is important, but just so is the observation of celestial objects. To become involve in astronomy and enjoy it one doesn’t need to have a big telescope and or any telescope for that matter at all. Many amateur astronomers are eye bound observers and or make use of simple binoculars. If you don’t owe a telescope yourself and are curious about looking thru one and or you want to know more about the Universe, visit your nearest Astronomy club, Planetarium or Observatory today.

A thought…Many people think that astronomy only happens at night when the sun has set. But, it actually happens thru out the day as well! After all, the Sun is our nearest star. Not to mention that The Moon, Venus, Jupiter and if you are lucky the brightest star in the night sky Sirius is also visible during the day. Permitted the object is visible from your location and off course you knew were to look for it.

Well today, I still draw the curtains away from my bedroom window at Night. Lying there, gazing at the night sky with all its might. In the starry night I have found a tranquillity and peace that surpasses all of mankind. The best of this is yet to come, as when I die one day, I will be laid down under its beauty by night and by day. My Soul, back to God who gave it. Creater and Lord of the Universe as we know it.

Clear Skies

Me @ Boyden (Kloppers)

A younger me (2001) giving a demonstration and exhibition of the different types of telescopes available to the Amateur Astronomer – Boyden Observatory.

My First Telescopes

My First Telescopes_small

Me in 1998 – Grade 12

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