Simple Stargazing With Captain Cosmos

Anton Vamplew was resident astronomer at The Old Royal Observatory for nine years, dispensing funky facts about stars to all comers in England’s spiritual star-base. I met him once – a cool guy who was genuinely interested in getting the sheer excitement of the universe across to everyone, including ignoramus Phantoms…

Since then he’s had a pretty stratospheric career himself, appearing as Captain Cosmos on Blue Peter and himself on The Sky at Night, and publishing a couple of books on the kind of astronomy I like (none of that theoretical stuff, give me real stars any day..) but his heart remains with the simple joy of being able to go outside your house at night, look up and see something amazing.

You’d think that in Greenwich the light pollution wouldn’t yield much in the way of fascinating cosmic delights, but amazingly, it IS possible to see some exciting stuff on a clear night even in the centre of town.

Admittedly, you may have to trek up to Blackheath to get the heavenly bodies that lurk just on the horizon, but isn’t that what brisk early autumn nights are for?

Anton has a daily alert service called Simple Stargazing which will tell you what you can see that night, and where to find it in the skies. The International Space Station is particularly clear just now, but there are planets, comets and other goodies listed occasionally too. To be honest I just glance at it most days, but every so often, when it’s a clear night and I fancy a walk, it comes into its own – a great ‘excuse’ to get out that Thermos, slip on those mittens and take a stroll.

Since it’s clear now, I thought I’d let you know about it in case you fancied a stroll tonight.

See you on the heath, guys…

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