My grandparents lived on the border of Cheshire, not far away from the Lovell radio telescope at the Jodrell Bank Observatory. I was taken there as a kid for a day out, as I recall it had a planetarium. The dish was often pointed out to me from the car whenever we passed nearby.
Despite the purpose of the dish being explained to me I wasn’t ever really sure what it achieved, but it did strike me as being pretty cool. Perhaps that day out prompted me to develop a casual interest in astronomy, but it has been my ongoing love of science-fiction that has continued to fuel my interest in the wider universe.
This Christmas I bought my other-half a Celestron Astromaster telescope as a Christmas present – okay, it was a little bit for my own amusement too. I got the idea for giving a telescope as a gift whilst watching last year’s BBC show, Stargazing Live, which was broadcast from a temporary studio at Jodrell Bank. Being a geek myself I positively idolise Professor Brian Cox, the man who made intellect cool again! Pairing the Professor with one my favourite comedians, Dara O Briain, meant this year I put all other plans on hold to watch the show live. I’m going to sound like the biggest geek in the world when you read my next sentence. Drinking ‘Space Beer’ with Dara and Brian and talking science is my idea of a party; yes, getting totally smashed and drunkenly discussing black holes without the slightest hint of schoolboy smuttiness is what I would call a good time. They strike me as two chaps who might enjoy real ale and, perhaps, would also appreciate a round on the Playstation once we were done philosophising about the universe over our pizza. Ok, now I’m sounding somewhat stalker-ish, but comedians and excitable brainiacs are my kind of people.
Thanks to Stargazing Live, Ash and I have acquired the new hobby of standing outside in the dark figuring out how to best use our new gadget. There is now a genuine excitement when we look outside and see the skies are clear. So, thanks Dara and Brian – you’ve inspired us to get out there and look at the night-sky.