I started observing the night sky as a child when the astronauts onboard Apollo 8 took a picture of Earth from space. A neighbour would invite me to join him and observe planets and double stars with a 3″ refractor telescope. We also went to talks at the Birmingham Astronomical Society. Shortly after, I had my own cheap 2″ refractor and I was able to do my own observing. I still have my copy of Norton’s Star Atlas which has been my companion along with Patrick Moore and the Sky at Night since 1969. I learnt the names of the constellations and was able to identify planets and the first magnitude stars.
Totally coincidentally, my brother in law’s uncle is George E Alcock. I had the pleasure of meeting “Uncle Eric” before he died in 2000. We spent the best part of a day in the Fens talking about our mutual interests – astronomy, radio and our shared teaching career. An honour and a pleasure.
Between 1971 and 2020, I have continued to look up at night with my eyes and a pair of binoculars. A treat for me in recent years has been to travel to southern skies, where I was able to marvel at familiar yet upside down constellations. Seeing Canis Major above my head in Cape Town was very strange but the symmetrical Orion looked fine… But wasn’t Rigel where Betelgeuse should have been? Other highlights were looking at the milky way and Magellanic clouds in Uluru, Austrailia, visting the Palomar telescope in California and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
In 2020, I finally bought my second telescope, a 8″ Dobsonian and so the journey continues…