Growing up by the sea, with some streetlights but not many, there was very little light pollution and so the night sky was full of wonder... from learning how to identify Ursa Major age 6 (the constellation was part of my school's emblem) and then the Pole Star, to years of guiding and air cadets involving day and night "expeditions" brought an easy familiarity with the basics of stars and navigation.

Watching the first Apollo-Soyuz linkup on a neighbours black & white TV was one of my first memories of manned space exploration - I'd felt sorry for Laika, the first space dog, and the other animals sent into space in the early days - but it was the realisation that humans could go beyond earth's atmosphere that hooked my imagination.

From then until now I have been an "amateur space geek" - following the NASA and now ESA programmes.  With the advent of the internet, information has become more freely available and, most recently, the regular interaction through social media of astronauts/ISS and space programmes generally has completely revolutionised public interest.  No longer do people look completely cross-eyed at me when I talk of solar flares or my being unavailable because I wish to watch a launch!  

I have had no real personal involvement with space exploration - the most I have done is send my name on various missions, and for about 8 weeks many years ago, I worked as a temp at Rockwell International in the UK, during which time I was "in charge" of Space Shuttle publicity (the keenest interest from journos was for information about the anti-gravity loo).  I've been lucky enough to visit the Kennedy Space Center on a few occasions and while I missed out on shuttle launches (scrubbed due wx), I was on the ground for one arrival of Endeavour.  Just fabulous!!

Thanks to social media and the internet, my imagination remains as fired up as ever and no matter how narrow my existence becomes, through health and other issues,the world I feel part of remains as wide as the universe!

current and future activities
NASA-ESA-SpaceX - April 2021
@Astro_Alex - Alexander Gerst (GER)
@Thom_astro - Thomas Pesquet (FRA)
@astro_timpeake - Tim Peake (UK)
@Astro_Andreas - Andreas Mogensen (DEN)
@Astro_Samantha - Samantha Cristoforetti (ITA)
@astro_alex - Alexander Gerst (GER)
@astro_luca Luca Parmitano (ITA)
ISS - Spot the Station
Follow me on: