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Old 17-01-2019, 11:29 AM
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towards 2000 posts-slowly

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What sparked your passion for Astronomy?

Found this little gem.

A simple book & tv programme can spark a life long passion, as both The Observers Guide and Sky at Night did for me.
A few familiar faces in here.

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Old 17-01-2019, 04:08 PM
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Merlin66 (Ken)
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Yeah, PM's got a lot to answer for...
For me staying up late in the early 60's to watch Sky at Night.....
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Old 17-01-2019, 04:42 PM
DJT (David)
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An unplanned trip to the dish in Parkes where I also encountered the Mailns winners images in the visitor center.

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Old 17-01-2019, 05:50 PM
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For me, it was watching Quantum on ABC, in particular, the specials when Voyager 2 would encounter it's next target through the 80's.
2 years ago, my good neighbour had a cleanout, and kindly gave me his old 5" newt stuck in a box. That was it for me...
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Old 17-01-2019, 08:45 PM
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JeniSkunk (Jenifur)
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For me, I've always had an interest in science and technology in general. But I've never had the intense drive to specialize in any particular field.

Places like Greenwich, Mt Palomar, Parkes, and Mt Stromlo were familiar names to me by the time I was 7, because of their association with science and astronomy. I understood how reflector telescopes worked by age 8, and dreamed of going to those places, and maybe, getting to view the night skies through them. The images of space in encyclopaedias were as familiar to me as the ones of computers, and the control room at Cape Canaveral.

Like Andy, in the 1980s, I'd avidly watch for any updates reported about Voyager, usually watching them on Towards 2000 on ABC, and later Beyond 2000 on channel 7.

It wasn't till March last year, with a sale display of telescopes at Australian Geographic, that my interest was piqued, hard. A lot of cool looking telescopes, at prices I could afford. I could have easily impulse bought, but decided to learn first about these telescopes, before shelling out a single cent. Learning what was the best capability for price, and best fit for where I'd be able to set it up, made the final choice easy, only one real contender.

Once I got to look through it at the night sky, it was great to finally be doing something I'd dreamed of, and never really thought I'd have the chance to.
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Old 17-01-2019, 09:51 PM
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Staying awake at night as a 7 y.o trying to fathom the concept of infiniti.

A birthday present of Ridpath & Tirion's "Universe Guide to Stars and Planets" sealed it for me.
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Old 17-01-2019, 10:15 PM
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bigjoe (Joe)
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Mine as a kid In Double Bay in Sydney near the famous Messengers Wharf..a friend had a small 60mm Trashco..looked at the moon through it.. and that was it ; hooked!
Parents purchased the Larousse Encyclopedia of Astronomy for me ..a big book, with a spectacular image of Messier 31 on the cover added to that...
Yes my own 60mm Trashco came soon after ..loved it!

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Old 17-01-2019, 10:37 PM
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Ukastronomer (Jeremy)
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Watching the Sky at Night as a youngster, later Patrick Moore became a friend of mine

Here he is at hertmonseaux where I took him with his stand, a small business he started with my son Patrick Moore Sales my son still has items for sale from Patricks only authorised site

He also wanted a couple of images for his book i took for him whilst at farthings
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Old 17-01-2019, 11:22 PM
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38degsouth (Dean)
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Simply growing up under dark skies in northern Victoria (Numurkah). Very fond memories of laying on the front lawn in summer watching Orion slowly appear, then counting satellites. Very late school nights being allowed to watching Cosmos.. Dean
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Old 17-01-2019, 11:25 PM
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Stonius (Markus)
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I think it was Halley's comet, and by the time sn1987a happened, I was well and truly hooked.

That and that 'Astronomy Now' book by Jay M Paschoff...

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Old 18-01-2019, 10:16 AM
Wavytone (Nick)

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At the ripe age of 4 I was given a big hardback copy of the Time-Life book “Universe”. Didn’t understand a word at first but learnt to read from that... this was at the time of JFK and the space race...

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Old 18-01-2019, 11:13 AM
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multiweb (Marc)
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First 65mm refactor for Halley comet. Prior to that just looking up the summer milkyway in the mountains.
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Old 18-01-2019, 12:46 PM
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I got a copy of Skywatching By David Levy in the mid 90's. I always had an interest from then as a 9-10yr old
Still have the book.

Then a trip 3 years ago to NZ we went to the observatory at Lake Tekapo.
Saw 47 Tuc as my first object through a telescope. This then started the dishing out of money for kit at a rapid rate.

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Old 18-01-2019, 05:22 PM
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doppler (Rick)
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My interest in astronomy started when I was 8 years old. My father woke me early one frosty winter morning to see this bright glowing greenish blue streak of light, Comet Ikeya–Seki c/1965. I would have stayed up till dawn looking at it but it was really cold and my mother made me go back inside the house. It was clouded out the rest of the time it would have been visible so I only saw it the one time. Never had any money as a kid so had to wait till I got my first real job to get a telescope some 20 years later, an 8" f6 cave newt on a motorized portable pier mount, still have it in my collection.
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Old 18-01-2019, 07:21 PM
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I think the coming of Halley's Comet did it for me as well
I even built a very crude 8inch reflector, and it did work of sorts but then we only had film to deal with.

But it was fantastic, i still have my very first image of that, 3rd of March 1986

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Old 18-01-2019, 08:48 PM
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The_bluester (Paul)
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Originally Posted by 38degsouth View Post
Simply growing up under dark skies in northern Victoria (Numurkah). Very fond memories of laying on the front lawn in summer watching Orion slowly appear, then counting satellites. Very late school nights being allowed to watching Cosmos.. Dean

I was sort of similar and gre up not too far from Numurkah. Watching Cosmos as a pre teen probably gave me the first spark but having dark, dark skies at Strathallan and being allowed to take home the telescope that belonged to my school (Echuca Tech and as far as I know the only kid who ever took it home) gave it a kick along.

Badly set up and randomly pointing, I "Discovered" Saturn with that 4.5" Meade and that as they say was that. The time I have been able to observe has ebbed and flowed over the years, but the interest has always remained. I am now getting in to imaging but there is still nothing like a great view of M42, and every time Saturn is in view I have to see it all over again.

Seeing the Cassini division for the first time only a couple of years ago was nearly as much of a buzz as seeing Saturn for the first time.
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Old 18-01-2019, 09:09 PM
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Exactly the same as you Peter. I suspect a lot of people in the UK would say the same!
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Old 19-01-2019, 12:21 PM
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I'd like to say the Apollo Moon landings but while they were a massive influence, I think it goes further back into the misty childhood memories.

Two things stand out - one was standing out in the backyard with the family watching the faint spots of sundry Sputniks crawl across the sky, informed by local newspapers as to the timings. Imagine, we were actually looking at man-made objects in SPACE!!

The other was standing out in our suburban street one night and seeing a bright light streak across the sky, leaving a greenish-white trail behind. That really fired my imagination and sent me off to the local library to find out all I could about meteors! Don't know why I didn't just Google it!

Cheers -
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Old 19-01-2019, 05:58 PM
pdthomas23 (Peter)
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I had a passing interest as a kid; I remember trying to identify planets in the sky during the "Great Line Up" in 1982, squinting through a monocular at Comet Halley from Mt Buller while in HSC, spending lunchtimes at Uni watching episodes of Cosmos in the AV room, and following the occasional bit of "space stuff" through the news.

Things got a bit more serious during a 2-year post-doc in the USA. We travelled with friends up to Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. One of the Ranger programs was an observing session led by a lecturer from the Northern Michigan School of Mines. He had a telescope (8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain as I recall) and a basket of binoculars. He gave us a presentation indoors showing some of the main constellations and asterisms we'd see (The Northern Summer Triangle for example) and then out we went. He showed us the Double-Double in Lyra through his telescope and I spent some time observing with the binoculars. After everyone had gone in for the night, I went back out with my film SLR and tripod and fired off some long-exposure shots pointed towards Polaris. Probably about 2 weeks passed before we got back, sent the photos off for developing and printing and got them back.

After that my wife bought me Robin Kerrod's book "The Star Guide: Learn How to Read the Night Sky Star by Star" and I did some naked-eye observing. A few years after we came back to Australia I joined the Astronomical Society of Victoria, got my hands on an 8-inch Dobsonian loan telescope and then bought my 8-inch equatorial Newtonian second-hand from another ASV member. Maintained an active interest ever since. Still have the same 8-inch Newt (13+ years now) and still enjoy a star party out at Heathcote, a public viewing session in Melbourne's suburbs, or a solo session at my in-law's farm near Bamawm in north-central Victoria.

Peter Thomas
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Old 21-01-2019, 06:37 AM
Baza (Barry)
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Halley's Comet followed by a long incubation period.
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