... to free myself from the chains of the merely personal, from an existence dominated by wishes, hopes and primitive feelings. Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking. The contemplation of this world beckoned as a liberation and I soon noticed that many a man whom I had learned to esteem and to admire had found inner freedom and security in its pursuit.

- Albert Einstein

Visual Astronomy

Stargazing - La Montagne, France (2013)

Amateur astronomy has many faces. Anyone with an interest in theoretical astronomy, anyone observing or practicing astrophotography, anyone devouring astronomy books can rightfully consider him or herself an astronomer.

My interest is primarily visual astronomy. In practice, the number and variety of objects observable is endlessly greater than it is photographically. I prefer astronomy over astrophotography - the view in an eyepiece over a mesmerizing deep sky portrait. I am thrilled by the science and philosophy behind it. There is an endless "wow-factor" to this hobby. A continuous sense of scientific exploration or, as put so adequately in Timothy Ferris' Seeing in the Dark:

There's so many stars in the sky that professional astronomers can't look at them all. So chances are when I'm looking at a star, I'm the only one on earth looking at that star at that moment in time. Knowing it's my data in my star in a sort of a possessive feeling of being in the right place at the right time, and being the only person on earth paying attention, right now, to that star.
It's pretty dang cool.

While I do not pursue any goals when observing, nor observe only along the beaten path of well known list, I do strive to always target objects I did not observe before. This dedicated, constellation sweeping approach was a major factor in the creation of CSOG.

Observing Career

Like so many, my first telescope was a small plastic refractor. Magnified images of the Moon sparked my interest. An interest that was to slumber for another ten years. It was not until the year 2000 when, with my curiosity renewed, I purchased a decent telescope. After independently discovering the planet Saturn, I was hooked.

One by one the sky revealed its treasures. It seemed as if an entire hemisphere was waiting to be explored. I spent a great many nights under dark skies near Tucson, Arizona. Observing a few objects, only to find out there were many more. The sky was mine to conquer.

Fifteen years later, my astronomy endeavours have taken me from France to South-Africa. Over 9000 Observations logged for more than 7000 different objects since the year 2007. Still, I feel like only having scratched the surface.