Dark Sky Wales are proud to announce that we are going to have a guest blogger!

Let us introduce you to Katrin, well I say we, lets allow Katrin to introduce herself.

When Allan asked me to start writing for the Dark Sky Wales blog, I did not hesitate and immediately said yes! What an honour. My aim for the blogs is to keep them informative, fun, relevant, and seasonal and bring to you something new each time. I am hoping to share interviews, book reviews and anything which may be of interest to my fellow astronomers.

Allan suggested my first blog should be about myself, who I am and my astronomical journey. So here I am! My name is Katrin and I live in Pontypridd. By day I work in the environmental sector and by night I am an amateur astronomer. If I were to pick three top astronomy subjects which I love I would have to go with studying and photographing the moon, planetary geology (especially Mars) and comets and meteors.

 

I have always loved science especially anything to do with Earth and astronomy. Particular astronomical highlights that I remember when growing up is staring at Saturn through my father’s telescope in our back garden. Considering that was over 20 years ago, it made a lifelong impression on me. Gazing at Comet Hale-Bopp whenever the sky was clear were moments to treasure. I am not ashamed to admit that I was actually upset when it was no longer visible. The eclipse of 1999 was something which I will never forget…the silence and the chill of the moment. It certainly was the best eclipse I have seen yet in my lifetime.

When it came to choose what I wanted to study at university, I opted for Physical Geography. I loved the subject especially meteorology, coastal processes and natural disasters so this seemed like an obvious choice for me. I obtained my degree then spent an extra year studying for my MSc in Environmental Conservation Management.

I loved studying and as the years passed I realised that I wanted to start again, nothing full time (as I certainly couldn’t afford it) but an evening class perhaps. That’s when I stumbled across Dark Sky Wales on social media. I sent Allan a message about the GCSE they were advertising and the rest, as they say…is history!

Completing my GCSE has sent me on a wonderful path in astronomy not only through what I am now achieving but the people I have met. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2015 with Allan’s help and I am now a fully-fledged committee member of the Cardiff Astronomical Society and I volunteer as the librarian. I attend any events that we put on and I contribute to our quarterly newsletter by writing articles, interviews with astronomers and reviews of books that can be found on our shelves. I update the social media accounts with our events and photographs of speakers who have attended our fortnightly talks (insert shameless plug to follow us on social media!).

Recently, I have started writing articles for astronomy magazines such as Astronomy and Geophysics for the Royal Astronomical Society and Astronomy Now, book reviews for the Sky at Night and Popular Astronomy, the magazine for the Society for Popular Astronomy. Funnily enough, my first article for SPA was on Dark Sky Wales and should be printed for their issue in March/April 2019.

Another hobby that I have (and some may find this boring) is that I am an avid philatelist! Yes…I collect stamps. Mostly they are astronomy themed and range from historical astronomers to notable astronomical events in history. My collection is growing fast and if anyone would like to get in touch to talk about stamps, please do! I have a few autographed first day covers in my collection which I am really proud of.

Allan allows me to volunteer at their events (sorry both!). My practical skills in astronomy are lacking somewhat…I don’t own a particularly good telescope so I am still learning the ropes with theirs and I am prone to asking stupid questions, which they both answer without making me feel like an idiot. Without Dark Sky Wales, I seriously doubt I would be where I am today. I am encouraged and always offered experience and I am so grateful to them for that.

I really hope that I will see some of you at Dark Sky Wales events so do please come and say hello. My next blog will be out before the end of October…I am going to write something spook-tacular for Halloween!

As always, I wish you clear skies and keep looking up.