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Testimonials - Sandy Giles

Despite an interest in Astronomy since about the age of seven, I never had either the resources or time to dedicate any time to this hobby until the early 2000’s. But then I was given a telescope (a manual 5” Newtonian) and for the first time was able to observe the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. I took the plunge later, and bought an 8” GoTo scope – and then my struggles began and I needed help!

So I joined Wycombe Astronomical Society in 2007 and could not have met a more friendly and helpful group. My difficulties using a GoTo scope were easily overcome, my (stupid) questions were always patiently answered and the experienced astronomers of the Society were forever generous with their time and expertise – they even came to my house to help. As I progressed, I mastered my telescope, purchased my own permanent observatory, and began the journey into astrophotography. As previously, members were always on hand to assist and I began with their help to get to grips with the dark art of image processing. In 2011 I became only the seventh (and as I write this, the last) person to complete the WAS-50 observing project. I now also have a telescope in Spain which I operate remotely from my home in the UK – because of the pandemic I’ve never actually visited it! But I’m taking seriously long exposures with it and producing some very presentable images.

It was only fitting that I repaid the Society for all their help, so in 2012 I started running the Practical Sessions for the Society, the aim being to teach and lead discussions on the nuts and bolts of practical astronomy; subjects included general Astronomy; lunar, solar and planetary observing; binocular, telescope and eyepiece choices; astro-imaging and image processing. I must have presented something like a hundred of these sessions. I later developed some of these sessions into proper lectures which I have since given at the Society’s outreach events at venues such as Waddesdon Manor. I am also teaching youngsters who approach the Society asking for help with school work such as Duke of Edinburgh Award projects.

I am now Secretary of the Society and as keen as ever on Astronomy, always encouraging members, new or old, to become proficient. The Society celebrated its 40th Anniversary last year, is well set for the future and remains a friendly and welcoming group for anyone with an interest in Astronomy.

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