As a child in the 1970s, I loved astronomy and space. It wasn't until I was 20, in 1986, that I was able to get a telescope. If you were alive then, and at all interested in what might rain down from above, ;-) you will remember that 1986 was all about Halley Comet fever. So in April 1986 I finally got a telescope - a modest 5" Newtonian - and with my reference materials (a newspaper article on Halley, a planisphere, and a Patrick Moore book on astronomy that I'd had for years) pointed my new treasure eagerly at where Halley was supposed to be.
eyepiece was filled with a glorious shperical burst of light. I couldn't
believe what I was seeing:
I looked harder at the image - interesting
that the diffuse cometary halo semed to resolve into individual points
of light ... And no sign of a tail, but then I had heard that this visit
of Halley was disappointing. What I was seeing was anything but
disappointing. But the longer I looked, the less it looked like what a
comet was supposed to look like.
Well, eventually I realised
that I was a few degrees off, and what I was looking at was Omega
Centauri. Wonderful it was! I was looking for this comet, but was the
sky really full of unexpected treasures? I started to slew the scope
around (in those days, "slew" was something we did by hand) and came
across something that literally took my breath away. There was a little
pocket of gems in the sky that Aladdin had left behind. A sparkle of
red, blue and green (I'm SURE I remmeber green!) stars in a tiny little
treasure-chest just below the Southern Cross:
It was the Jewel Box, and it hooked my into the delights of the sky in a way that has lasted a lifetime.
So, nearly 30 years later, when I finally fulfilled a lifetime's
ambition and acquired a new telescope and a camera, and after three
months of technical bedding in during which I finally got autoguiding
working, there was only one object I could possibly photograph. This
little box of jewels.
Meade 10" SCT, F/10, with a Canon EOS
60Da. Next time I'll go for it with my focal recucer to F/6.7, which
will enhance the sense of this little treasure of gems secretly buried
in the deep south of the sky.
10x2' exposures, ISO 800.
Thanks for reading this far in the nostalgic musings of a lifetime star addict :-)