Hi, I’m Will and I’ve been interested in astronomy since childhood.
I was raised in a very small village on the Mendips Hills in Somerset. I had an amazing view of the night sky with no light pollution, in fact the nearest street light was about 2 miles away the next was the lights of Wells about 7 miles away. The stars seemed to blaze and I can remember many more clear nights than cloudy ones.
My parents recognized my interest in the night sky early on and bought me a second hand pair of Boots binoculars, 7 by 40’s if I remember right and a copy of The Ladybird Book of the Night Sky.
In fact the only television program I was allowed to stay up and watch was BBC’s The Sky At Night, hosted by the late Sir Patrick Moore. I used to receive his monthly news letters too, sadly they have all been lost as I grew up, moving house a few times, lastly to Glastonbury when I could no longer see so many stars (the sky was good but not as good as home) and as I grew up I sort of lost interest.
The interest in the night sky and astronomy took hold of me again years later when I picked up a copy of Astronomy Now magazine – one of those impulse buys in the newsagent. I was instantly taken by the amazing pictures throughout the publication, taken by amateurs across the world. The Andromeda Galaxy was no longer a small fuzzy spot as seen through my small binoculars but a proper galaxy with colour and M42 the Orion Nebula was breath taking with huge clouds of glowing dust and gas with vivid colour, not just the faint green tinge I can remember seeing.
As luck would have it, a few weeks later – I was walking past a Charity shop and in the window was a huge telescope for £70. It was a 6 inch Newtonian Reflector with a German Equatorial mount, counter weights, eyepieces, finder scope the lot. there was a large wooden crate to hold it all so I paid the money, packed it all in the crate and couldn’t lift the thing up. Now I’m no two stone weakling but this was nearly 100 lbs in weight and bulky, so I had to get the car and the lady in the shop – bless her, helped as best she could to assist me in getting the scope in the boot.
The make of the scope was TAL, a Russian company that seemed to use old tank guns for optical tubes – the build of the scope was impressive ( solid is an understatement ), I had to go to the library to get a few books on astronomy to help me set it up. Naturally my first view through this beast was at the moon and I was gob smacked by the craters and other features I could see. My next target was M13, a Globular Cluster in the constellation of Hercules – no longer a fuzzy spot but a swarm of bees against the dark.
It was then I knew that I wanted to image these fantastic sights, it’s been a long road getting there – and a longer road yet to come. I’m learning new techniques all the time, refining my equipment and setting new challenges for myself. Some think I’m mad staying up all night, I could spend more time down the pub, I like a tipple as much as the next man, but it’s my hobby, the joy I get when I look at the final result of an imaging session is the same as when I first read that old Ladybird book.