First steps in the sky

Right. So the first equipment is there. We put everything together the same evening. More difficult than expected. But you can manage it. After all, we successfully looked at the moon on the first evening. But polarising, calibration, pah. Not me! And the tracking? Always turning the cranks. I got tired of that after 24 hours, so I got a Goto tracking system. Teleskop Service (Mr Murner) helped me with the conversion by phone, as unfortunately no German instructions were enclosed. Thanks again for your patience, Andreas.

After a little time and a lot of reading and advice I got to grips with it, although there is still a lot to learn! I discovered the moon with all its wonderful views, Jupiter said goodbye and Saturn took its place. The ring, moons... but galaxies? Not a thing. It's enough to make you go mad!

Our local interest group around Dr Christoph Claude was very helpful. He himself gave me valuable tips, and Uwe Sadlowski was and is my great mentor and advisor. Christoph gave me tips on worthwhile objects, I borrowed a breathtaking 5mm eyepiece and Uwe gave me the tip about the webcam for planetary photography and autoguiding, i.e. the automatic tracking of the telescope for long exposures. Thanks guys!

My location is anything but perfect. The proximity to the airport, a streetlight that illuminates the courtyard and not the street, and the constant passing of cars make it difficult for my daughter and me to relax and watch the sky at night.

 But at least I got to know a hedgehog, a hungry bat, all the neighbourhood cats, a villager who walks her dog at half past two without a word and without returning any greeting. Bizarre! My dear neighbours Agnes, Resi, Vroni and Matthias are also enthusiastic about the night sky. Well, Agnes pretends to be nice :). And so they have often made their beautiful dark courtyard available to me, not without taking care of the physical well-being, but that's another story *cough*.

At a joint observation evening of the Erding Sidewalk Astronomers, where about 10 telescopes were present, there was a big "aaaaah" and "ooooooh" because they all saw a galaxy called M51. I saw - nothing. Zero, nada. But at least I saw satellites rushing through the eyepiece, they did not. With the best will in the world, there was no galaxy. So in the course of time I had to learn to relax my eyes, to do a dark adaptation (getting the eyes used to darkness), not to light cigarettes with the bright lighter, to practise looking into the void (like in the morning after a night of drinking) when looking through, and then there was a dark grey nothing. So there it was, the galaxy. Well, yes. Unimpressive, almost invisible, but I knew that.

So there had to be another way to make it visible, and thanks to Uwe I had the idea of buying a digital clamp so that I could connect my digital camera to the telescope, and so the first step into astrophotography was taken. But it was only the beginning of a journey in which I once again entered the rabbit hole.

And in contrast to the already demanding optical observation, this should still prove to be easy compared to astrophotography...