Welcome To Arrakis

Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Reinier Breytenbach, an amateur astronomer from South Africa. I live near the capital city, Pretoria, but that is not nearly as important as is the fact that I have not kept an observing log for the past 30 years. Why is that important? You may well ask.

During the past 35 years or so, I have come to realize that apart from some of the planets, everything I observe today will be in exactly, or nearly so, the same place again next year, which got me thinking. Why not use the time spent on keeping a log more productively, such as studying the objects I’m observing in more detail?

Which is exactly what I have been doing since then, and I would like nothing more than to share some of what I have learned with you. I am less about obsessing about the focal lengths of telescopes, than I am about learning what it is I am seeing through the telescope I am using at any given moment. Don’t get me wrong though- issues like focal lengths versus apertures, the quality of optics, using the right magnifications, using proper mounts, and such are important, and we will talk about all of that, but that is not the be-all, and end-all of amateur astronomy for me, even though I own more than a dozen telescopes.

While I am writing this, I am observing Crux, the Southern Cross, which from my location, never sets below the horizon. Why am I telling you this? I am telling you this because Crux defines the southern skies in a way that nothing else does, much like the Big Dipper defines the northern skies- only more spectacularly.

In future posts I hope to share some of the other southern celestial treasures with you, and I hope to do it in a way that will leave you as “wow-ed”, and filled with the same sense of wonder as I am every time I look up into the heavens.