Scotch College Observatory photo

My mate Mal has always been a photographer, right from when I met him at primary school in 1974. This wasn't taken then, though, I think it would have been about 1978, and I think he was mucking around with some high-contrast film. I might look casual, but I must have been teetering on a ladder! The dome is my secondary school's observatory (yes, I went to Scotch College, don't judge me).

I was in the Astronomy club from the very first year I was there. 

I spent so much time in the observatory with a handful of mates - several of which I'm still friends with. It was, I guess, a bit of an escape from the harsh environment that was secondary school in the 1970s.

We had observation nights every term or so, and the scope in the dome was a 4" Unitron on a clockwork driven equatorial mount. We also had a 6" Newtonian reflector on an equatorial mount which was itself on a mobile pier, as well as a Brass Monster - a refractor on a wooden tripod.

I was never a huge fan of the Newt, although Roger, who is now a consultant for Optics Central was quite partial to it. He could probably tell you more about both of the instruments.

I loved the refractor - I've always preferred glass. We didn't use it for photography much, apart from the Moon. In its day, a Unitron was quite a useful scope, although I don't recall ever checking its polar alignment. 

It seems that the school has moved away from astronomy as an extracurricular activity. I even hear that they plan to demolish the observatory. I've no idea where any of these instruments are these days. Perhaps someone reading this knows.

But the friends... I'm very grateful that I found astronomy as a hobby. Even now, it provides me with friends who are both available and distant. By that I mean they're friendly and happy to chat at any time, having shared interests, but who understand that when I'm at the scope I'm absorbed in what I'm doing to the exclusion of most social rules.

Just now, that's really coming in handy