I've been fascinated by all things astronomical since before
I can remember.
I was blessed with two wonderful parents who had both intelligence and perception and would always do their best to nurture our natural interests without trying to force us along lines they had predetermined.
The house was always full of factual books about almost everything, and plenty of good adventure stories too!
We lived at what was then the very edge of Nottingham, this
was the 1960's and so the sky was pretty dark, especially if we walked up the
lane for 10 minutes.
When I was 8 or 9, Dad used to take me out and show me the planets and stars and bought me the 'Observers book of astronomy' by Patrick Moore.
I still have that book, very beaten up now, but still great.
About that time, Dad started to bring home lenses and I started making my own simple refractors, glueing the lenses onto the end of cardboard tubes. I still remember very clearly the night when I first saw the rings of Saturn through a 2 inch telescope I'd made myself.
I lost interest a bit during my teens as by that time I'd decided
I wanted to become a rock star and spent most of my time making horrible noises
on various electric guitars.
Fortunately for the world, I never did make it as a rock star :)
I do however work with them!
I owned a Charles Frank 6 inch F8 reflector for a long while, but unfortunately it was rarely used as I was living in London and central Nottingham, and the skies were orange with light pollution!
Time moved on, and in 2002, my wife Amanda and I moved to Dorset.
I immediately noticed how much darker the skies were!
I bought myself a Helios Startravel 120 refractor and started using it more and more, occasionally going a few miles into totally dark sites, and as I did, my interest rekindled.
When we moved house again, we ended up with a big back garden with only the sea to the east, so very dark skies.
In 2005, my Dad passed away, and I decided that as he'd got
me interested in astronomy all those years ago, I'd get a scope to remember
I'm sure he approved!
For some strange reason, the scopes I looked at kept getting
bigger and I ended up with a secondhand 14"Meade LX200GPS.
Amanda and I lugged it out a couple of times but it was pretty obvious that it'd need and observatory so, for a year, it went into storage and I picked up a 10" LX200 classic to tide me over.
One day I was browsing on ebay and saw a DSI Pro for sale.....I bought it, imaged M57 (badly)and was smitten by the bug!
I should have done it years ago!
Greetings to all of you fellow dark sky lovers!