Ross has always shown an interest in the universe, but this was a passion that was ignited when his wife, Frankie, brought him a small table-top telescope
for his birthday. Ross went out into his garden in light polluted Milton Keynes not expecting to see much and saw Jupiter and its four moons. He was completely amazed
that with just a small telescope - made up of just mirrors, lenses and a tube - he was able to see a planet and it's moons. That was it, He was hooked!
A few talks later at a local pavilion, he now teaches schools, community groups and businesses all about the wonders of the skies above. With a host of equipment and
a mobile observatory there is now no one that he can’t bring the skies to.
Frankie is the only member of the crew who doesn’t really know anything about the skies. But as an essential and indispensable member of the team, she is the one behind the
scenes designing banners, ordering equipment, fundraising and is the administrative brains behind the running of the organisation. Her real passion lies
in helping, supporting, talking with and connecting communities together with our common interest of the universe.
Frankie also loves pigs. She even managed to get a UK Astronomy event at a pig sanctuary. She bought her husband, Ross, a little telescope, which ignited his passion
in the skies - and that was the spark that started UK Astronomy.
My dad bought me this telecope for Xmas about 10 years ago now. My dad and I used to fart around together stargazing and doing a bit of astrophotography.
We were never great at it and didn't really know what we were doing but it was something we used to do together and it was pretty special.
Three years ago he was killed in a car accident. I was 7 months pregnant with my second son at the time and we named him Orion after my dad's favourite
constellation, it was the one we always started with when we were stargazing. I couldn't bring myself to use the scope again on my own after his death
as it bought back too many painful memories so I lent it to my cousin who has had it for the last couple of years.
Earlier this year I met Ross through his lovely wife, Frankie. He has bought the love of the skies back to me by giving me someone to share it with
and I'm so honoured to be part of the UK Astronomy Facebook group as well. All of the people who have posted in it have given me, piece by piece, the
strength to come back to it. The irony is, I have now bought Ross in to the very special place where my dad and I used to spend most of our time,
camping, star gazing and sailing at Great Moor Sailing Club which has now become UK Astronomy's dark sky site.
Like most boys, I went through the stage of "wow, aren't dinosaurs cool!", then grew out of it, into the next stage "wow, stars and planets are cool!" -
Then I never grew out of it! My parents bought me and Argos bog standard cheapo telescope when I was about 7 and I could just about spot the moon with
it, but I was hooked!
Inspired by that, I devoured anything I could get my hands on, dog eared library books were a particular favourite! I once badgered my parents to buy a
copy of the Sunday Times, so I could sticker the free moon poster given away that week, with the landing sites of every single lunar mission from the
early Soviet probes of the 50s, through to Apollo and up to date (circa 1999). Certifiable statto nerd!
After hitting University and my beloved (almost useless) telescope getting lost in one of many house moves, and nearly growing out of the "phase", my
wife convinced me I should buy a new, more modern telescope. The proud owner of a beautiful, if somewhat creaky Newtonian telescope, I still find myself
looking up at the moon from time to time. But now I'm able to show my kids the rings of Saturn, giant storms on Jupiter, the phases of Venus, nebulae
that would swallow our entire solar system and, I hope instill that awe and wonder I once had as a young boy, myself. Maybe they won't grow out of this
phase either. Now I share my passion with others as part of the UK Astronomy crew.
I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida watching shuttle launches and staring at the stars. My first visit to Kennedy Space Center happened before I was
two, and that's when the space bug bit. I have been a lover of space exploration and astronomy ever since.
I now teach secondary science and am a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. I found a flyer about UK Astronomy in the library when I first moved to England,
and I connected with Ross and Frankie soon after. I enjoy being a part of UK Astronomy and helping to explain science and astronomy concepts and
sharing what NASA is up to, especially to students.
As a child I was amazed that my dad could point out and name stars and planets. Then at the age of 8 watching Neil step on the moon on the school TV
(not live!!) my passion grew.
Aware of this passion my wife bought me a travel scope and so it started again. I now have a Celesteron 8" HD. When looking online for more
information I came across UK Astronomy and found they met in a pub local to me. I went along and was hooked on their vision of bringing astronomy
to others. Now I am apart of the team and regularly volunteer at events and enjoy bring my experience and passion to others.
It was the return of Halley’s Comet in 1986 that triggered my interest in the night sky. Aged 15 at the time, I still recall with fondness standing in the
garden with my Dad, looking up at a faint fuzzy object in the sky, amazed that I was looking at an icy rock that had been travelling the Solar System for
thousands, if not millions, of years.
Since then, my job as an Air Traffic Controller in the Royal Navy has kept me busy, but it has also provided me with some amazing opportunities – in
particular, I will never forget seeing the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) for the first time from the fjords of Norway or the opportunity to gaze
up at the Milky Way from the middle of the Indian Ocean, away from any trace of light pollution.
It was when my children started developing an interest in space, thanks in part to Professor Brian Cox, that I decided the time was right to invest
in my first telescope – a Sky-Watcher Skymax-127. It was a great starter scope and I spent many nights in the back garden with my family looking at the
craters of the Moon, the rings of Saturn and more distant wonders, such as the Great Orion Nebula. However, when my son Tom and I began to experiment
with astrophotography, both the mount and telescope went through a series of upgrades, culminating in my current setup – an Altair Wave 115ED refractor
mounted on a computer controlled NEQ6 equatorial mount. I have also invested in a Lunt Hydrogen Alpha telescope for solar imaging and a Sky-Watcher
Skymax-180 for planetary imaging. Since then I have been lucky enough to have had some of my images printed in the Sky at Night and All About Space
magazines and have gone on to present talks on astrophotography with my friend Ross, as part of the UK Astronomy crew.
From the age of 7 I remember being fascinated by the Moon. My parents got me a telescope and I never actually worked out how to use it and none of my
cousins who I spent time with were interested in helping me. Nevertheless watching the sky at night kept my passion for astronomy going and I simply
absolutely love it and love seeing the reactions of people who look at Saturn or The Moon through a telescope for the first time.
I run an observatory in Northumberland and I help run stargazing events for Northumberland National Park. I first discovered UK Astronomy from a
Facebook search and joined the group. I quickly found that Ross and Frankie were great people and genuinely wanting to help others, so I always held
the group in high regard.
As a moderator of a few large groups on Facebook, I was aware that the UK Astronomy group was accelerating in size and that the team might required
some help managing the group. So I contacted Ross, asking if he would appreciate me coming on board - to which he greeted me with open arms. I am a
proud member of the team and really looking forward to helping support the entire team once lockdown is over.
Aston Smith is a keen aspiring astronomer with a fascination of space, time, everything in the observable universe and beyond. He first showed interest in the stars at
the age of 2. His obsession in all things space grew so much, that at the age of 8 years old he decided to create and publish a book containing facts about our solar system.
Living with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), Aston found researching and creating his factual book about
the space objects in our solar system both extremely challenging and satisfying. His fascination with space and the expanding universe captures his interest and
provides him with focus and a welcome calm to his chaotic frame of mind.
Aston received a Celestron NextStar SE8 for christmas in 2020 and is blown away by the features and level of detail he is able to see compared to the bird watching
telescope given to him by his Grandpa several years ago. He is also in awe at the generosity of the UK Astronomy community, who not only bought his book, but many who
gifted him equipment and accessories for his telescope. Aston now waits in anticipation for the end of lockdown, where he can meet up with other keen astronomers and stargaze in
a field in the middle of nowherere - a long way from the light polluted skies where he lives.
Aston was delighted when he was made an TGP NOMINAL Honorary Crew Member
after featuring in
their Christmas podcast in December 2020. He is also both delighted and very proud to be invited to be a member of the UK Astronomy team and looks to continue supporting the charity.