We are James and Alex, amateur astronomers living in the wonderful light-polluted inner city suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. Both of us have been interested in astronomy for many years. James got his first telescope – a 4.5″ Meade reflector – at about 16, and took a number of astronomy subjects at uni. Alex never got the telescope she wanted as a teenager, but nevertheless continued to take a keen interest in all things astronomical. She finally got a telescope from James for her 30th birthday: a 90mm Takahashi. Then our permanent collection grew to include a 16″ SDM-made Dobsonian, because sharing can be difficult. We’ve also had a Coronado PST (for solar viewing), which has permanently given way to a Lunt; and a 128mm Takahashi too, which has given way to a slightly more manageable 120mm Tak (the 90mm has also been superseded by this beauty). (The Meade suffered a tragic end at the hands of some tiles.)
This website aims to collect our thoughts and ideas about being an amateur astronomer, with the idea of helping everyone from the absolute beginner through to those who are more expert than us – with a particular focus on objects observable only from southern latitudes.
“Considered as a collector of rare and precious things, the amateur astronomer has a great advantage over amateurs in other fields … the amateur astronomer has access at all times to the original objects of his study; the masterworks of the heavens belong to him as much as to the great observatories of the world. And there is no privilege like that of being allowed to stand in the presence of the original.” – Robert Burnham Jr, Burnham’s Celestial Handbook