I will release several updates for this post over time. The thing I would like to start with is budget. No matter what you already know and what you desire, you cannot do anything without a telescope. So question is, how much can you afford?
Very high quality telescopes are very expensive, huge and can be rather complicated. They’re amazing at what they do and they can show you things you cannot see with a cheap telescope. But the thing is that when you’re just starting out you don’t know better anyway. Discovering things with cheaper telescope while you’re still an amateur will be just as exciting with higher priced one. Perhaps you won’t be able to see distant nebulas and all sorts of things but discovering exactly how the moon looks like, learning about Jupiter and stars of milky way is what you can do, and in my opinion the most fun thing to do. Now when I say an amateur telescope I don’t mean from children department.
First of all your telescope must have a solid, steady, and smooth working mount. The second is high-quality, “diffraction-limited” optics. The one that I would recommend is Orion’s XT8, an 8″ Dobsonian reflector. Its 8″ diameter reflector optics lets you view the Moon and planets in close up detail, and has enough light grasp to pull in pleasing views of faint nebulas, galaxies and star clusters. Its of great quality, very stable and if you ever need an upgrade you just buy a quality Eyepiece. But more about that in the next update.
My interest in stargazing came to me at a very young age, I suppose mainly because of the fact my mother is an theoretical astrophysicist. Plus living on the perfect spot helps as well.
When I was 8 year old my parents divorced and it was a very difficult time. But something changed and perhaps for the better, my mother started spending a lot of time with me and eventually me my very first telescope and slowly started to teach me about constellations and all kind of interesting facts for which I had no idea if they were true at the time. I became insanely interested in watching the night sky and wanted to know everything there is about space. I loved watching the stars so much that for every essay we were allowed to choose what we want to write about, I wrote about stars. I wanted to have my mothers job when I grew up, who wouldn’t want to work on something they love after all? I still have a pretty long way to reach that dream but I have learned a lot over the years. Plus with my mother backing me up with her experiences is pretty much like cheating my way into the profession 😀
Back then things were very different, you could say stargazing was very private. Today with all the new technology we not only get to share our thoughts and opinions but we can share what we see through our telescopes with people all over the world. And that’s where this site comes in.
Welcome to my humble home, my Astro Place.
So this post is a result of a stuff-up. Not just by one person, but two.
I’ve been down in Sydney, Australia for the last couple of weeks on a sort of holiday. I’ve been staying with a good friend of mine, Robert, who moved here a couple of years ago.
We decided to go out on the town and got back to his place late at night. As we were walking to the front door, I see him padding down his pockets.
He had lost his keys.
He asked if I had bought the spare pair he had given me whilst I was staying with him. Nope.
So there we were locked out at 3 am in the morning. After calling a locksmith we had some time to kill as we waited for them to come and save the day.
The great thing about Robert’s house is he lives out of town, so you don’t get much light pollution. Which means you have a clear view of the stars.
As I lay on the grass waiting for the locksmith, the first thing I realised is how different the stars look in the southern hemisphere compared to the north.
I could see some constellations I was familiar with, but they weren’t in the right place, and others weren’t there at all. There is a reason for this.
You may notice in photos of the night sky (like above) that the stars move in a circular motion around the sky. This is due to the rotation of the earth. The stars nearest the point the stars rotate around (known as the celestial pole) tend to make smaller circles and don’t go below the horizon. These stars that are always above the horizon are known as circumpolar stars.
On the other side of things, there are stars that are always below the horizon. They are called never-rise stars.
An interesting fact is that circumpolar stars for the northern hemisphere are never-rise stars for the southern hemisphere.
As I lay there on the grass out the front of Roberts house, I was seeing stars I hadn’t seen before. It was exhilarating. I wish I had my equipment with me.
As I looked up at the sky, I immediately noticed that I couldn’t see the Big Dipper. The Big Dipper is one of the main constellations in the northern hemisphere. I couldn’t see any sign of it! After some research, I found out that if you want to see the Big Dipper in the Southern Hemisphere you need to go north of latitude 25 degrees south to see it in its entirety. Apparently if you are in the northern part of Australia, you can only just see an upside down Dipper on the horizon just after sunset. Crazy!
For Australians, it is the same for their beloved Southern Cross. The Southern Cross can be seen year round in their night sky. It is even on their flag!
Despite its name, you can see it above the equator, but unlike in the Southern Hemisphere you won’t see it all year round in the North. Eventually, the curvature of the Earth gets in the way.
Eventually, the locksmith came and I was happy to be in bed. But I was also grateful for the small moments looking up at the sky.
Ok, things have been hectic. I’ve been running around getting my life sorted. I finally got over that ‘talking to women’ and ‘rejection’ thing and I met a cute girl.
We’ve been seeing each other for a little while now and things are good.
Even better than that, my Mum’s taken me overseas with her! I’m writing this from our hotel room in the beautiful land of China!
The food here is I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E. Seriously. It’s nothing like the Chinese food we got at home. Turns out that Chow Mein is not really that Chinese at all.
(Funny story that – I learnt that the hard way the first day we were in China. I ordered it at this restaurant we were in and almost got laughed out… Apparently only Americans ask for it and it doesn’t even exist in China. WHO KNEW??)
My favourite is still the fried rice. I mean, come on… Who doesn’t love fried rice?
Here’s a weird fact you probably don’t know: friend rice is actually a breakfast food. Seriously. They don’t eat it with other dishes, it’s just what they get to eat in the morning. They make it by frying up everything that was left over from the night before into one big meal for everyone.
I mean, it sounds clever and very obvious when you think about it, it’s just that I’d never thought about it before.
So, anyway, back to non food-related matters. Whilst it might seem like a trip to China is amazing, there is one issue: I’m going to miss the SuperBowl.
I’m going to miss hanging out with my mates, eating buffalo wings, and throwing chips at the TV screen. That sucks!
And even though NBC is streaming it live online, I STILL can’t get it because the Chinese don’t like the American websites that much. So much so that I can’t access it from here.
Well, that’s what I thought until I did a bit of Googling
It turns out you CAN watch the Superbowl outside the US as long as you use a funny piece of software called a Virtual Private Network or VPN.
All you have to do is sign up, download it, run it, and it allows you to bypass all the internet filtering blocks that would normally stop you from accessing content in China.
I love it! $15 and whilst I miss out on hanging out with my mates, I still get to watch the game.
Now, if only I could work out those international time zones…
The stars are beautiful and I love them, but sometimes stargazing can be lonely. Of course I have my mom, but there comes a time in every man’s life when a mom just isn’t the same.
I want a woman. I want a woman who will spend countless hours under the stars with me. I need to find a woman who loves the same things I do.
The problem is that I’m extremely shy, especially when it comes to talking to women. I have a hard enough time talking to other men, but for me talking to a woman is especially difficult. They are just so lovely and beautiful; they cause me to completely lose my words.
I decided to do some internet research on this topic (as if I wasn’t nerdy enough already). I found a guide on how to talk to women, by the Attraction Institute.
The author, Leigh, suggests that the real problem isn’t that I can’t talk to women. This is true; I have no problem talking to my mom or the cashiers at the grocery store. He says that my real problem is getting women to like me.
Leigh says that men need to stop worrying about if a woman is attracted to you or not. I need to just be myself and be open with who I am and eventually that will lead to a healthy relationship because a woman will find me attractive based on who I actually am.
Whenever I approach a woman who I find attractive I always freeze up. The rejection scares me so much that I don’t even bother talking to women anymore, but I think I’m just going to start talking to people and not base my fear on potential rejection, and even if I do get rejected I can’t let that stop me.
This is going to be hard for me. I think the worst thing that could happen (besides rejection) would be that I make a couple of friends.
I’m going to try this technique today. There is a super sweet secretary at my mom’s office that I always go to great lengths to avoid. She’s just too pretty to talk to, and even more important than being pretty she is so kind.
I think that she’ll be an ideal person to try this out on; because if she rejects me I know that she’ll at least be nice about it. My mom always suggests that I ask her out and, in the past, that extra pressure has made me avoid her even more.
Okay, the plan is, I’m going to go visit my mom for lunch today. I have to pass Lauren’s desk first. I’m going to try and strike up a conversation about something mundane and see where that leads. I’m going to not have anything planned and just fly by the seat of my pants. She’ll either be terrified of me or super charmed by me, but like I said, even if she is terrified at least she’ll be nice about it.
One of the brightest stars in the sky (besides the sun of course) is a star called Vega. On September 4th, Vega will be reaching the zenith point, which is the point in the sky directly overhead. I found a great online guide that shows people exactly what is happening in the sky every night. This sort of guide is great for beginner astronomers; it gives them a certain feature to focus on and points out changes every night.
Mom and I went to the local general store the other day. I love this store, if you go on Fridays you can see all the people that are coming to the area to camp and stargaze during the weekends. I’ve noticed that the hobby has really picked up, and it makes me so happy to see more and more people be excited about the universe. The general store tries to stock products that are trendy and yet rugged. I noticed some beard oil from beardbrand and mustache wax. I don’t have a beard or a mustache but I thought they were rather interesting products.
All these new products in the store have got me thinking about growing a beard of my own. I feel like beards are a sign of masculinity, and at the same time whenever I see a man with a beard I think, “That man likes the outdoors.” I like the outdoors and I’d like to feel more masculine, so I think I will be attempting to grow a beard.
It will be interesting to see how some facial hair changes people’s opinions of me. Will they think I’m more attractive? Will they think that I’m more masculine? Will I be more relatable to people who enjoy gazing at stars as much as I do?
I guess I’ll find out the answers to all these questions in a couple of weeks, or months. I don’t actually know how long it will take me to grow a beard, I’ve never tried before.
My mom approached me with an awesome idea. She wants to build a few rugged cabins on our land and rent them out to beginning astronomers and we can run workshops on the weekends. There is something that is so fulfilling about sharing your passion with others. We’ve been trying to think of different ways to make it work. We’re thinking that we’ll have people arrive Friday’s during the day. That first night we’ll make a great meal for everyone over the campfire and we’ll spend the rest of the night looking out the observatory telescope. On Saturdays well have a community breakfast and after breakfast we’ll have a workshop about how to expertly operate telescopes and how to use star maps and all that. At night we will focus on different astronomical features. Sunday we’ll have a farewell lunch and hopefully people will have had a great time and learn a lot about stargazing.
We will probably start with about two prefabricated cabins and probably create four or five different campsites in the wooded area of our land. I have a friend who is really into foraging for food and I’m thinking that might be a fun workshop. Maybe one weekend every few months or so, we’ll have foraging by day and stargazing at night workshops. I know I’m thinking too far ahead, but I’m just so excited about this “Astronomy Bed and Breakfast.”
We’ve been trying to think of different names for our business, but we haven’t come up with anything clever or catchy enough. If I have a good idea my mom shoots it down, and if she has a good idea I shoot it down. We’re not trying to be argumentative; we just want to have the best idea ever.
Sometimes, when I’m in the general store on Fridays, I approach people that are coming to the area to stargaze and ask them if they would like an idea like this. I have received nothing but positive responses from everyone I’ve talked to. They may just be being polite, but they seem genuinely interested in the idea. I wonder if they will be even more receptive to me once I’ve grown my beard.
I don’t have much news today, but I just sold an old blog of mine with a website broker. I’m not gonna say how much I sold for, but it was a pretty good amount of money… enough for me to buy some new equipment!
A lot of people asked me how the whole website broker thing works, so I’m gonna share with you guys. That way, if you have a blog you wanna sell, you can do it the right way, and not get ripped off. A buddy of mine works at Digital Exits which is basically a website brokerage firm. You get your website appraised, and they connect your site with potential buyers. If someone’s interested, then they negotiate the price and get back to you when they’ve secured a deal.
They get paid on commission so it’s really cool to know that they’re trying to sell your website at the BEST possible price. This is as opposed to more common marketplaces like Flippa, where everyone’s lowballing because they want to get the best deal. There are tonnes of people literally making their living flipping websites, and they live on places like Flippa, but it will never be the same as nurturing a site for years and building up consistent income streams, A strong community and an even stronger list.
You see, buyers love data, and it takes time to really build up a valid list of subscribers (at least in the few thousand). The fact that I had all 3 of those, meant my site was good enough for a website brokerage. Their clients are no joke. They want the real thing, and they are willing to pay for it.
Anyway, enough about that, I just wanted to also let you guys know that my mom has almost finished the observatory, so I’m gonna use the money I made from selling my old site, to deck the room out and get some new equipment including my Meade RCX400 20.0”/508mm Telescope. I’m not 100% sure what else I’m gonna get yet, but I’ll definitely let you guys know what I decide to do.
Til next time!
One month ago my mother told me to prepare my nerves and that I am going to experience how it is to drive in a plane in two weeks. I was kind of terrified by the idea of flying in a giant pile of metal, but I suppose things that are new to us can be quite scary.
She didn’t want to answer where we are going, it was a surprise. To be honest she have the best surprises you can imagine so I was really looking forward towards whatever she was planing this time.
Two weeks passed fast and as we arrived to the airport I realized we are going to Hawaii! That was amazing, a surprise vacation. I told her how I can hardly wait to start swimming, but her response was that we might not have time for that. So why the hell would we go to Hawaii if not to enjoy ourselves in the ocean?
As we arrived to Hawaii in that shaky and rather scary airplane (my hands were dead tired from clenching when we arrived) we went straight to rent a car and drove towards a huge mountain. She said it was an inactive volcano named Mauna Kea and that we will be going straight to the summit which is 14,000 feet higher than the water level. The little gears in my head started turning and I remembered.. Mauna Kea… world’s largest astronomical observatory. Suffice to say I couldn’t control myself and was even more excited then before.
We stayed for their nightly stargazing program at The Visitor Information Station which was amazing and their staff was very knowledgeable. I think even my mother learned couple of things.
After a good night sleep we went for the summit, which introduced me to altitude sickness. The sudden change in oxygen levels and climate were rather shocking. The trip was a fantastic experience.
We have started a “little” project of expanding our house. My mother hired a designer who finished recently and now we are looking for a contractor. We are building a mini stargazing observatory as part of our home!
I am so excited about this that I just had to write about it. Can you imagine having your own observatory? Actually forget the observatory, you know what will be IN the observatory? Meade RCX400 20.0”/508mm Telescope. I cannot wait to get my hands on that beast.
But naturally first the house, so it will take a little while. We expanded our house once before when I was very young now that I think about it, actually the place where I am sitting right now was a garden once upon a time.
So the work has finally begun and there’s noise from machines all day long. It would be unbearable if I didn’t realize what will come out of all that hard work the guys are doing. There was a little accident and they damaged a wall and broke a window two days ago, but they will take care of the damages so all is well. I’ll make sure to add some pictures in the next update!
While I had a very humble gear when I’ve began stargazing over the years as my knowledge and desires grew I needed a better equipment. So here’s what I have today.
My telescope actually just got a huge upgrade couple of months ago, when I received a very big package for my birthday. I wondering what the hell could be inside, could it be a prank, a huge TV perhaps? I was stumped when I realized it was a Orion SkyQuest XT8i IntelliScope Dobsian Telescope. Holy ****¨! Best birthday ever.
Till then I had Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope which seemed amazing to me. I could see all the little crates on the moon with it, the detail of Jupiter was incredible. I could even see a few distant galaxies from the comfort of my little room. After having a first look through SkyQuest I was simply stunned. You could say I stargazmed.
The Dobson mount is very smooth, and oh my god the IntelliScope Computerized Object Locator.. fantastic! Its very accurate and includes over 14 000 objects in its database. Amazing piece of technology.
This couldn’t get any better right? Well as it turns out it can! Recently I have purchased TeleVue eyepiece and the improvement is staggering.
This telescope and eyepiece is everything an amateur stargazer could wish for. I don’t think there will be much improvement over next couple of years.
And, the final piece that any good star-gazer needs – an unlocked phone. Travelling the world, waking up in different countries, trying to contact friends and other star-gazers whilst being locked to your home network and having to pay international roaming fees SUCKS. You HAVE to unlock your iPhone if you’re going to have any money to spend on new equipment.
So what kind of equipment are you guys using? Comment below.