My name is Simon Downing and I was born not too far from London. All my life I have been interested in astronomy and I remember even doing projects at school when I was 6 years old! At 13 I saved up for my first ever telescope - a 4" Newtonian - but I could never really get it to do what I hoped it would - other than lunar observation. But, even so, I truly enjoyed the experience.
I think most passions remain with a person, and so when I was 42 I finally bought a 12" Skywatcher Dobsonian telescope. My wife and children wondered what had hit them, to be honest! But it was great, and the detail of certain space objects I began to witness, even from my British light polluted skies, got me embedded further with this hobby. I tried some photography through the scope, and although it was fully computerised, because it was not an 'equatorial', I was limited in this field. That said, I did get some reasonable pictures.
Finally I sold it, and bought a Skywatcher NEQ6 Pro mount, and I now use a 12" 300PDS telescope for observational work and an 8" Quattro for my photographic imaging, on this mount. I also use an Orion autoguider. With this equipment I have finally begun to achieve what I always dreamed I would! I hope you like the photos below, especially the horsehead nebula, because, despite its imperfections, this is an object I have wanted to photograph since I was 7 years old! I really love nebulae in general, and I hope over the coming months to image more of them, as well as my other interest - globular star clusters. I have also recently had my camera modified to help me further, and the Rosette nebula is my first object using my camera in this way.
I am a very busy person, and my job takes up a lot of my time. I am actually a Baptist Church minister, and so my hours are very full as a consequence - as well as having a family to care for and to give quality time to. But somehow I manage to get enough 'astronomy' done to satiate the appetite, as well as sustain it. I hope in the coming months to improve on my processing techniques, especially through using the Pixinsight software.
I hope you enjoy looking at a few of my images and I also hope that they will stimulate you to engage with this wonderful pastime. It costs a lot, in terms of time and effort, to photograph deep space objects, but it is so worth it. If I can do it, I know anyone can!