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Testimonial - Sarah Whittaker

I am not sure where I got my love for astronomy from but I think it was from my dad when we would be on the coast and he would get us looking at the "shooting stars".

I progressed this a little further when a friend of a relative who runs the observatory on the Isle of Wight lent me a telescope for the summer months. It was a great 'scope but I couldn't really work it (it had nobs that you had to twiddle). To help me understand more I decided to join Wycombe Astronomical Society. I remember the first meeting well. It was a small friendly bunch of people, a sunny evening and clear sky at Woodrow High House. I learnt how to "twiddle the nobs" and became hooked. That was some 18 or so years ago! I decided then to purchase my own scope and brought a "goto" one - it was the best decision to get a computerised one. I still own that scope though sadly I do not get it out as often as I would like.

I have been a member of WAS ever since and for 16 or 17 years of my membership I also served on the committee. The society has grown tremendously since I first joined but it still caters for newbie astronomers which is great. It often holds telescope evenings that allow members to bring along their telescopes and other equipment and to enable them learn how to use them to their full potential. At the other end of the scale the experienced astronomers are catered for too with detailed lectures / practical's on astro-imaging, using complicated software etc. And then there is everything in between which caters for all. The society has some fantastic lectures every month that cover a wide range of topics from dark matter to remote imaging to the aurora etc. It has also arranged some great practical events too and some of these have been in some lovely places - Waddesdon Manor is one such place. We also had the opportunity of being an "extra" in a Midsomer Murders programme which involved the societies observatory and a filming experience for several members on a Chiltern's escarpment.

I like nothing better on a summers evening than looking up at the night sky, scanning with binoculars, picking out constellations, watching the Perseid meteors etc but I think my biggest astronomy hook has to be the Aurora. In 2012 I organised a trip for society members to go to Finland, well above the Arctic circle, to view the aurora. It was great and I have been hooked ever since, returning to Finland each year.

I have made some wonderful friends over the years, some of whom will be friends for life, and I continue to remain a member of the society, attending the lectures when I can


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