Ralph

ralphRalph has been interested in space and astronomy since childhood and is passionate about promoting the work of the many professional astronomy organisations and researchers.

He runs numerous not-for-profit astronomy endeavours - including the biannual AstroCamp in the Welsh Brecon Beacons international dark sky reserve - to promote practical stargazing.

"If just a glimpse of the rings of Saturn through a small scope can cause anyone to cry 'wow!', then how much more will our understanding of the cosmos be enriched when we understand that missing 95% of the universe, solve the quantum-gravity conundrum or look for life elsewhere in the solar system and the wider galaxy? We live in exciting times when, for the first time in history, we can begin to reveal these mysteries - not through philosophy or superstition, but scientifically. Observationally. Accurately. The Higgs Boson has now been found, what's next?"

Ralph's favourites objects:

Albireo: That naked eye star that sits at the beak of the bird in the constellation of Cygnus the swan. With just a little magnification, this star can be split into a colour-contrasting pair that orbit one another once every 100,000 years or so.

Being colour-blind, this binary pair has a place in my heart for being one of the few deep sky objects that I see in colour - a beautiful rich yellow & blue. Pretty much everything else just looks white or grey.

The Needle Galaxy: This edge on spiral galaxy, also known as NGC 4565 or Caldwell 38, hovers in the spring constellation, Coma Berenices, but lies some 40 million light years away.

It's easily discernible in a medium sized scope but, as an astrophotographer, this is a real gem to image and process. I delight in revealing the bright central core bisected by a dark band of dust in the galaxy's arms each time it rises in the sky again.

Paul

paulPaul has been astronominising since he first looked through a telescope at Halley's Comet. He is a dedicated visual observer and sketcher, never happier than when he is using a planisphere, a book of star charts and a 30 year old Philip's Moon Map to navigate with. While he loves his telescope he is also a dedicated binocular astronomer and still uses the 10x50s he first bought as an 8 year old.

Paul is an organiser of the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers and the bi-annual AstroCamp in the Brecon Beacons and enjoys spreading astronomy education in person and through his blog; the Astronomer's Den. He has also appeared on BBC News and radio to talk about the recent Russian meteorite and asteroid DA14.

Paul's favourites objects:

Crater Copernicus: 800 million years old, 93km wide and 4km deep. One of the great sights on the moon, if not the greatest. If you have never watched sunrise pass over Copernicus, see it emerge from the absolute dark of the terminator, then you have missed one of the most breath-taking events you can see in a telescope.

Any Globular Cluster: They might be small and fuzzy, but they are such a surprising object when you find one. The knowledge that these are objects outside the disc of the Milky Way, at distances measured in tens of thousands of light years and are perhaps the most ancient object you can ever see, makes globular clusters very special.

Jen

Jeni Millard Jen is the latest addition to the team – our earthling zookeeper, keeping Damien and John in check when we’re too busy planning our next brainwashing session. Jen has had a fascination with the night sky for as long as she can remember. A glimpse through an ageing Newtonian scope at the Moon was all the inspiration needed for the obsession to begin. She’s currently in her final year of studying for an MPhys in Astrophysics at Cardiff University and regularly visits primary schools in the local area, giving talks and blasting away the preconceptions of what a scientist looks like and what a scientist gets up to.

Jen's favourite objects:

The Sun: The Sun is a celestial body that often gets a lot of bad press. After all, if he’s around, he hogs all the attention – none of the other bodies get a look in. But look at the Sun and you’ll never see the same Sun twice – from ever-changing sunspots scarring the surface to prominences arching and looping, desperate to break free. It’s a wonderful object to observe, sketch and image, as long as the proper precautions are taken.

The Dumbbell Nebula M27: M27 is a particularly bright nebula about 1360 light years away. M27 is a planetary nebula, the result of the death of a star like our Sun. It can be easily seen through binoculars, but a telescope really brings it to life (be sure to use averted vision to really make it pop!). It’s one of my favourite objects to image – even a single exposure can reveal the bright blue centre (which arises from glowing oxygen) and red fringes (due to glowing hydrogen).

Damien Phillips

Damien is the brains behind the operation: managing the website, much of Awesome Astronomy's social media and contributing practical astronomy tutorials on the site. Albeit in penal servitude as a captured Earthling.

Damien has been fascinated by the universe since early childhood and is currently enjoying the challenge of observing and imaging from heavily light polluted London, where he lives with his wife and son.

Damien's favourite objects:

Saturn: Sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest after Jupiter. Saturn's prominent ring system has made it a firm favourite for me since I first observed it, aged 13, with a small Tasco refractor that I borrowed from a friend. It's now 26 years later and I still can't help uttering a "WOW" when I see it each new seaons.

The Ring Nebula (M57): 1.3 light years in diameter and 2,300 light years distant. This expanding shell of gas, shed by a dying star, is beautiful both visually and when imaged.

This deep space object can be viewed with binoculars from a dark site, and with small telescopes from anywhere else. The Ring Nebula takes the appearance of a smoke ring visually, but image it and the beautiful gradation of colour from the central blue, through to orange and then finally the outer fringe of red. Makes it a sight to behold.

See Damien's images on Flickr and follow him on Twitter.

John Wildridge

John's responsible for the sound & engineering on Awesome Astronomy. He also provides excellent observing sessions before, during and after recording sessions with his 16" Dobsonian scope.

John has been interested in astronomy since childhood and was a keen binocular user as a teenager. He's now very much a purist when it comes to telescopes, prefering large aperture Dobsonians like his 12.5" and his lovingly hand-built 16" Dob.

John's favourite objects:

The Great Globular Cluster (M13): I love the number of points of light in such a small space. Dispite the distance to this object, you really do get an impression of what it is that you're looking at. This is a REAL cluster of stars!

The Orion Nebula (M42): A dense region of gas and dust with a nice cluster in the middle - and we now suspect a 200 solar mass black hole lurking in its midst. The swirling nebulosity of Orion filling an eyepiece under a dark sky still sends shivers.