Damian Peach


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InfoMy Interest in Astronomy took flight at a young age while at primary school. The first books i ever read on Astronomy were the introductory "Man and Space" by Neil Ardley, and also "Astronomy" by Ian Nicolson and "Travellers in Space and Time" by Sir Patrick Moore all of which i still have. It was soon after that i got my first instrument - a pair of 8 x 30 binoculars with which i learnt my way around the sky. I recall vividly my first views of M31 and Jupiter using them. I also had a small 10 x 30 Russian spotting scope which i used during to watch the Jovian moons (which i still use today!.)

It wasn't until three years later, after hassling my parents constantly, did i finally get my first telescope - a 50mm white tube Tasco refractor (which i also still have.) By this time i knew the night sky very well so have taken the very "classic self education" in Astronomy. It gave excellent sharp images and allowed views of all manner of objects from double stars to the belts of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and phases of Venus. By this time i was an avid watcher of the BBC's "Sky a Night" hosted by the legendary Patrick Moore. His boundless enthusiasm (as with so many) further captivated my growing fascination with the night sky.

It wasn't until 1992 or so that my attention really turned toward the Planets (especially Jupiter.) In about 1992 i joined the Boston Astronomical Society of Lincolnshire headed by well known UK amateur astronomer, Paul Money. His captivating talks, and infectious enthusiasm really wore off on me, and i was able to use the societies 4.5" and 10" reflecting telescopes to observe with - finally i would really be able to see the kind of details that i had read so much about. I spent many nights during my early teens observing the Planets, with a special fascination for Jupiter.

Later in the mid-1990s i acquired my own "proper" telescopes. A 6" F/6 Newtonian, and 90mm F/11 refractor. The Newtonian was a poor instrument, and was little used, but the refractor gave wonderful views. I recall well the stunning views of Comets Hyakutake and Hale Bopp.

During 1997 i acquired a Meade 20cm SCT, and had relocated to the town of Kings Lynn, on the Norfolk coast. It was during the summer of 1997 that my astronomical life changed forever - July 23rd, 1997 to be precise. This night i had for me what was the most incredible view of Jupiter like nothing i had ever seen before. The log book which i still have today, is filled with exclamation marks on my comments at the eyepiece!. It was from that point i was totally hooked on observing the giant Planet.

During that year i also became captivated by images by Florida Planetary guru Don Parker showing amazingly detailed images of Jupiter, revealing the details i was seeing, and much more. With further superbly detailed views of the Planet during 1997, i began to seriously consider buying a CCD camera and trying to take images of my own. It was during this period i upgraded my telescope to a 30cm Meade SCT and finally bought an SBIG ST-7 camera, which shortly after i changed to an SBIG ST-5c camera.

My very first session on Jupiter at the beginning of the 1998 apparition was disappointing (after many practice sessions on Deep Sky objects with the new CCD camera.) I soon learned that capturing finely detailed images was FAR harder than it looked. However, on the second session a few nights later, the seeing conditions (of which i knew little about) must have been good, as there before me were detailed images showing everything and more that i could see.....from then on, my results rapidly improved,. and so began the journey that has lead me to the present day.

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Damian Peach - Personal Photography / Astronomy Website - Norfolk

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