From 4 – 10 October, World Space Week marks an international celebration of science and technology. Marcus Tedde, Database Administrator by day and hobbyist astronomer by night, gives us an insight into astronomy and astrophotography – and shares his favourite facts about space.
Hi Marcus! How did you get into astronomy and astrophotography?
I have had a keen interest in space since I was a young child. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on to do with the cosmos. I find space endlessly fascinating – from black holes and stars, to the fact that there are around 2 trillion galaxies in our observable universe!
I never owned a telescope until we first went into lockdown last year. But with a lot of time on my hands at home, I took the leap – and I'm now so glad that I did, as whenever there’s a clear night, I can be found on my balcony with my telescope looking up at the stars!
Astrophotography really followed as a result. It made me so happy to observe the moon, the planets, and the stars, even the Comet NeoWise which passed over Guernsey in July last year. And I wanted to share that joy and excitement with other people... so, I attached my phone to my telescope and started snapping the moon!
What do you love about it?
I find it amazing that I can point the telescope at a boring part of the night sky and find that there are, in fact, countless stars and galaxies – too faint to see with the human eye.
There's also something so incredibly exciting about viewing planets like Jupiter and it's four largest moons Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, as well as Saturn and all its rings through the telescope.
You don’t need a telescope to see Jupiter or Saturn – but to the naked eye, they appear just like brighter stars. It’s only once viewing them through a telescope that you realise they’re planets, and can see them with so much detail.
I also love just how relaxing it is. Just me, outside on a clear, quiet night, pointing the telescope at different celestial objects and feeling so in awe at what I'm viewing. Feeling the vastness of the universe is such a humbling experience.
The real buzz comes from when you finally capture a really nice picture of the moon. It just fills me with joy that I am able to share this photo with friends and family (my family love space and astronomy too!)
What has been the coolest thing you’ve captured on camera?
I managed to get quite a crude picture of Comet NeoWise with my telescope in the foreground and the comet in the background. Passing over Guernsey last year, the comet is ‘one of the few comets in the 21st century that is so bright it can be seen with the naked eye’ – and is actually the brightest in the northern hemisphere in over 20 years.
Unfortunately, only having my phone to take photos is not the best for capturing other deep space objects - it's only good for taking photos of the moon. But that is absolutely fine by me – I love viewing the moon and examining its lunar craters (of which there are 9,137 currently recognised by the International Astronomical Union!).
Do you have a favourite space fact?
My favourite space-related fact is something to do with time dilation and relativity.
The closest star to Earth (other than the sun) is Proxima Centauri, which lies approximately four light-years away. If you travelled there at 99.9% the speed of light, then you would get there in around two weeks – while four years would have passed on Earth.
Travelling back would take you around another two weeks, and you would come back to Earth only a month older than when you left. But everyone and everything on Earth will have aged by over 8 years!
Time dilation... absolutely bonkers!
What makes the Bailiwick such a great place for hobbyist astronomers/ astrophotographers?
There's a lot less light pollution in the Bailiwick compared to a UK city, so you can view many more deep space objects. Also, the air clarity is amazing over here – which means you can get some really crisp views of the larger planets.
In fact, the Isle of Sark was declared the world’s first ‘dark sky island’ 10 years ago, in recognition of the exceptional blackness of the night sky which makes for spectacular stargazing.
So, we really are lucky to enjoy such breathtaking views in Guernsey – and the telescope is optional! All you need to do is, on a quiet clear night, step outside - and look up.
Marcus Tedde, Agilisys Guernsey Database Administrator, is fascinated by science and astronomy. In his spare time, Marcus is a bass guitarist recently joining Agilisys colleagues to compete in the 2021 Corporate Battle of the Bands at Beau Sejour.