Gary Fildes was one of the many who struggled to get a job in the Eighties in Sunderland. Married young, he ended up with four children and no real prospects and after a few dead-end jobs, he ended up learning a trade in the building industry. But he had a secret, from an early age he had borrowed his brother’s telescope and discovered this wonder of the night sky. After talking about it to one group of lads and getting a pummelling, decided it wasn’t cool, and kept it this passion hidden from most of his friends and colleagues. After he lost his father, and middle age was approaching faster than he would have liked, he realised that there was no point keeping his hobby a secret anymore.
The stars have captivated mankind for as long as they have been looking up. Civilisations have sought meaning from the stars as well as using them to predict (fairly unsuccessfully) the future. Nowadays most of us cannot see the delights of the Milky Way as it is lost in the light pollution. However, grabbing a pair of binoculars and taking a little time to head away from the town light and you will be rewarded with all the delights of the night sky. Since that moment, Fildes has gone on to found the Kielder Observatory and is the lead astronomer there. This stunning building is located in the Keilder forest which is one of the top sites for dark skies and there you can find some of the best views of the universe from the UK. Astronomy is one of those sciences that literary anyone can participate in. Amateurs have found as many exciting new phenomena as the professionals and the people that run the observatory are looking to inspire the next generation of stargazers.
This part memoir also has a useful star guide. It is a good introduction for those wanting to find out more about the sky at night, Not bad, for a former brickie.