I've always been a bit obsessed with space. I think all true geeks are. It was probably Star Wars that set off my star lust.
For the last few years, I've been pondering getting a telescope. Like many of my plans, it sat in the back of my head waiting for me to get off my lazy arse and do something about it. I halfheartedly researched telescopes online, glanced at them occaisionally in the shops, and thought "soon".
Then, while stocking up on catering sized tins of beans at Costco, I spotted this beauty.
The Celestron NexStar 102 GT Computerized Telescope. The price was good according to Google Shopper, the reviews seemed reasonable, and - more importantly - the box had a QR code on it!
I lugged it to the checkout, drove home as fast as I could, and tore through the packaging pausing only to briefly consult the instruction manual.
Assembled in all its glory - I couldn't wait to take it out and let myself wander the skies.
The British weather, on the other hand, had made plans which were clearly designed to vex me.
Arse. So, I moped about for a few days, glancing up at the clouds every evening and blowing as hard as I could to make them shift.
Last night, however, the weather seemed perfect. A few clouds - but not too many - the street lamps far enough away not to cause too much light pollution. I set the 'scope up outside, levelled it off, aligned it, plugged in our longitude and latitude to the little onboard computer, and watched it whir into action.
I peaked through the eyepiece, twiddled the knobs, and - suddenly - there was the moon. The half moon filling up my eye. I could see craters! Suck beautiful clarify. I was breathless.
Of course, the only way modern man can experience anything these days, is via an electronic screen. I flipped out my camera phone and held it against the lens. After several shaky and blurred photos, I managed to grab this stunner. (Click for bigger)
It may not be the best photo of the Moon - but it's mine. What's remarkable is that I didn't fiddle with any of the myriad image settings on my Android - I just snapped. I'm going to get an accessory which will let me hook the phone up and take better, more stable photos. Long exposure photos of galaxies. Photos of far off planets.
But, for now, there's something so raw and primitive about sticking my eye in a lens. The photons explode from the Sun, collide with the Moon, scream their way to Earth, where they are gathered up by some glass and mirrors, then focused to impact on my retina.