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Who I am

6 luglio 2012

Hello! I’m Peter and I’ve been an astronomy-buff for over thirty years. The first ten years of those I was a member of the Urania Royal Obervatory, near Antwerp, first as a member of the youth group, later as the head-tutor of the Deep-Sky department. Indeed, the “faint fuzzies” have always been my great passion, as you can tell from my drawings. From the early start I’ve made hundreds of them, also because my tutors encouraged us to make as many as we could because it’s one of the best ways to learn how to truly observe an object. It’s only when you spend a long time at the eyepiece, exploring every little detail, that your eyes adjust themselves properly and that you start to perceive those faint details which otherwise would remain hidden to you. But strangely enough I’ve only taken up drawing again very recently and now I’ve rediscovered the taste of it, it won’t let me go. So you may expect regular updates of my portfolio!

In 2010 my wife and I moved to the Emilian Apennines and for me it wasn’t just a question of dramatically changing my life, but also finding a reasonably unspoilt sky. Because in good old Flanders it’s become impossible to find a spot where the night’s sky is still an impressive sight. Many thousands of useless streetlights not only make the roads less secure, but also make life for us astronomists quite impossible. Here, in the Italian mountains at an altitude of almost 800m, however, the sky is still reasonably pure and observing under these conditions is a real joy. So in that respect I consider myself very fortunate.

In any case, I hope that my drawings show you how many beautiful things there are to see up there and perhaps even incite you to take up astronomy too. The advantage of these drawings is that they show you as well as possible what you can truly expect to see in a (fairly large) telescope, whereas most people whose only references are the incredible astronomy photos often remain disappointed when they only see a faint, greyish blob in stead of a spectacular nebula in thousands of colours. It’s a question of perspective. These photos have been made with many hours of exposure time and a lot of skill in rendering them perfect. Our eye can never compete with a camera, not even with a big telescope at our disposition. But once one realises this, the shear joy of seeing something with your own eyes, so “real” that you could almost touch it, makes the visual experience unsurpassable. Well, to me anyway. So please, enjoy my drawings and perhaps we’ll see each other here in Italy under a starry sky.

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