Welcome to Woodridge Observatory.

I do my stargazing from a rural spot in Kent. The sea is never more than 9 miles away between NE to SSE, 14 miles between SSE to SSW, and between  NW to NE.  There’s only so much artificial lighting they can squeeze in between here and the sea (they do try hard in places!) so, for the crowded SE of England, the skies here are half decent.

The second-hand Sirius dome was refurbished and set up here during 2020. The instrumentation was installed the following year. I am now learning the dark art that is electronic imaging.

Between 2014 and 2020 my main project was tracking down the galaxies in the 1966 Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies compiled by Palomar astronomer Halton Arp. The Atlas presented 338 galaxies and groupings which appeared ‘peculiar’ in photographs obtained with the largest professional telescopes of the time.

Why choose the Arp Atlas?  I attended his lecture in Cambridge in 1992. I admired his courage in taking the unpopular, contrary stance maintained for decades against the accepted view of the way the universe works. He was marginalised by the majority of astronomers and cosmologists supporting the ‘party line’.

Arp’s suggestions that redshift has components more complex than first thought flew in the face of decades of astronomical dogma, seeking a re-examination of theory and, perhaps, the careers (and research grants…) of many eminent astronomers!

Now, fifty years on from the publication of the Atlas, the Big Bang Theory still prevails, but with major unsolved issues, e.g. the need to conjure up twenty times more dark energy and dark matter than there is normal matter and energy, just to balance the scales.

Apart from a few early drawings, all my Arp sketches are drawn digitally in Photoshop by reference to detailed scribbles and notes made at the eyepiece.

I originally thought this was a bit of a cop-out but I am mollified to discover that it is common for professional artists to largely work digitally now.  Enjoy the sketches.

My interest in astronomy was triggered by the Leonids of 1966. A spectacular shooting star storm was hoped for. Patrick Moore invited folk to write in to the BBC ‘Sky at Night’ for a star chart to plot the meteors on. Naturally, being November in England, thick stratocumulus blanketed us all night and sprinkled us with drizzle. We saw nothing and the highlight of the night was a visit from next door’s cat at 4am. Despite that, I have been stargazing, on and off, ever since.