About The Author And Where To Start


About Me

Hi there I’m John Brady, creator of and writer for Astronomy Central since 2009. A site packed with up to date and useful astronomy information, a lively community, and more. This site has been featured in the international media, here is one of my articles featured in The Daily Mail.

I have have been interested in astronomy and space for probably all of my life. There’s nothing quite like seeing the Milky Way arching overhead in superb dark skies…part of the Galaxy’s spiral arm laid out right there for you, packed with star clouds and star clusters. I remember a lot of years back when I first looked at Jupiter through some binoculars, at the time I wasn’t even completely sure it was Jupiter, and I thought the four pinpoints of light around it could be stars of some kind in the background. Back then it never actually dawned on me that they were its moons, and would never have thought you could see them with just a normal pair of binoculars. Ok, in my defense they were pre internet days and a walk to the local library soon put me straight, that was Google back then and the search time was really slow!

After that I got a look at Saturn for the very first time through a small refractor. I could not believe I could actually see Saturn’s rings with a small scope…just about yes, but there they where, 800 million miles out there in space. Wanting to see further and with more detail I then built a 10 inch aperture Dobsonian telescope, a light bucket, perfect for teasing out those faint galaxies, millions of light years away floating in the darkness. I now also own an 8 inch Skywatcher Explorer 200p reflecting telescope, a Solarmax 60 II BF10 solar telescope, as well as various pairs of binoculars. 

Here are 2 of my favourite images, both taken from my back garden in Lancashire UK. The first is of the Moon showing the crater Copernicus in deep shadow along the lunar terminator.

Sky At Night pic copy

The one below was taken with a dedicated hydrogen alpha telescope for observing and imaging the Sun. It shows the sunspot region 1800, with a huge solar prominence floating tens of thousands of miles above the solar surface.

Sunspot 1800 & proms lite


About Astronomy Central

Have you ever asked yourself:

  • “Where can I talk to other like minded people about astronomy and space?”
  • “I’m a complete beginner, where can I find other beginners and more experienced observers who can help me?”
  • “What planets are on view tonight?” 
  • “What’s this year’s next meteor shower, when will I see it, where do I look?

…read on, all this and more is just a click away!

Astronomy Central is responsive, so looks great fitting into all screen sizes from large screen, to tablet, to smart phone. You can also now join, login/out of the discussion forum, read and post messages all from your smart phone/iPad etc while on the move.

With this site I aim to educate, inspire, and communicate the sheer weirdness, violence, and beauty of what’s out there in space. Together with this I give  useful information about finding interesting objects in the night sky. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a complete beginner who wants to learn the night sky with your naked eyes or binoculars, or you’re a more experienced observer, there’s always something here for you. You’ll find accurate and up to date astronomy resources, including some pages that get updated daily. The posts you’ll be wanting to access most frequently being conveniently located in the blue menu bar at top, “Discussion forum”, “The Sky Tonight”, “Meteor Showers” etc. If you’re looking for something specific, try the search bar at top right to search the main website, then there’s the Astronomy Central Discussion Forum which also has a search function all of it’s own. Browse through site Categories and Archives in the side bar using the drop down menus.

If you want to know what planets you can see in the sky tonight then go here  Planets To See In The Sky Tonight, or for some really amazing facts on the stars you can see this evening, try Stars To See In The Sky Tonight. Want to know what to look at in the sky with binoculars?… The Night Sky With Binoculars Tonight. Also check out this year’s meteor showers with all the info you’ll need to see them for 2013. There’s every object in the Messier Catalogue here too. There’s lots more on the site, but these are some pointers to get you going. All website content is written by me in a style that fully explains, while also making it enjoyable for you to read.

Our Community

Dying to share your astronomy thoughts or questions, or to check in to see what others are talking about and make friends? No problem, we have a lively, friendly community in the form of our Discussion Forum. If you’re a complete novice be sure to check out the category “Beginner’s Corner”, always a good place to start. You can quickly get access to post your comments and chat to other members by signing up.

Although this is generally a UK based site, we welcome members from anywhere in the world.

…If you like Astronomy Central, please spread the word amongst your friends/social network sites.

John Brady.

40 comments » Write a comment

  1. Hello John,

    Where in Lancashire are you ? shame we in Lancashire suffer from light pollution so much, both your photo’s are excellent.

    I came upon your site as I was looking for information on Planets on view this month, (not many) and really enjoyed your site.

    I’m currently helping my nephew in astronomy (he is seven) learning his way around the night sky and last night I pointed out that Venus was on show and so he had his first view of a Planet (always a great moment)



  2. Thanks Andy, I’m in west Lancs not that far from Southport. The skies can actually be quite dark here, but the glow from Liverpool can be seen to the south.

    Glad you enjoy the site, and well done showing your nephew Earth’s ‘evil twin’ Venus. I put some great info about Venus in this post I did on the Venus transit of 2012

  3. Hi John,

    I’m in Feniscowles near Blackburn (near Hoghton Tower).

    Southport is our favourite day out destination and we know it well, you will of course be aware of the Horrocks house near to Southport, he predicted the transit of Venus I think back in the 17th century.

    Your photo of the moon is especially sharp, the camera you used ? would you recommend it ? and what shutter speed was this taken at ? I ask as I will be getting a Orion scope in the new year and I’m interested in imaging the moon/planets and perhaps a few deep sky objects but it would be a new venture for me, any info you give me will be much appreciated.

    Many thanks,


    • Hi Andy, yes I see why you suffer from some light pollution, but for a bit of a drive darker skies can’t be very far.

      For both images I used a DMK41 CCD mono camera http://www.firstlightoptics.com/imaging-source-cameras/dmk-41au02as-mono.html This is a higher end camera but just as excellent faster frame rate/lower res versions are available. These cameras are usually best suited for lunar/solar/planetary rather than deep sky.

      For the Moon shot I used the DMK camera (and 2x barlow) on a Skywatcher 200p (8 inch reflector telescope), with a dual axis tracking drive.

      For the Sun image I used the DMK on a Coronado Solarmax 60 II BF10 solar scope, with the dual axis drive. http://www.meade.com/product_pages/coronado/scopes/solarmaxii_60.php

      The technique is to take a few hundred captures using the DMK camera, these are then combined (stacked) in a great free software called Registax 6.

  4. i am somalilander astronomy expert but not academic only parctical and tradional research so i enjoy to learn more about planets and sky stars every night, but i don’t have telescope so i want to help the astronomy uk obout this tobic thanks a lot

  5. I went to Namibia in June, and having seen the southern cross in the desert have realised how much i love learning about astronomy and found your website on returning home, i am hooked.Thankyou

    • Thanks for the comment Anne, wow I bet the skies were fantastic in Namibia back in June. Seeing the southern cross from the desert really must have been something!

    • Have you watched on you tube UNDER THE NAMIBIAN SKY THE MOVIE ? it is fantastic please have a look

  6. I am now your fan. I love your intelligent, yet easily navigated website – and the information that it provides. :) I’m lucky in that I live very near Cypress Hills in Southern Alberta, Canada, so we’ve got a great opportunity to star and planet watch here. It’s strictly naked eye (so far) – but it’s still dazzling! Thanks so very much for what you do. All the best from Alberta!
    Heather B.

  7. hi jon, have been a daily resident of your website for the last couple of weeks, looking at different articles, through the discussions and getting every bit of astronomical information into my brain i can fit, ive tried to sign up as a member this morning but whenever input the characters from the security box thingy( the one with weird words to proove your human) it states that i have made a mistake every time, and i know for a fact i am inputting the correct characters :( (very frustarting), am wondering if theres any way you can get mer signed up if i can provide you with all information needed to do this. thanks very much, James!

    • I’m sorry to hear that James, are you also entering the answer to the question that is below the character box?

      Please try again, I have not had any other complaints about this and new people are still joining up. Check your caps lock is not on, and if the characters are higher case or lower case?

      I’ll will attempt to test it out myself.

      • I created a new test account on the forum ok.

        Sometimes there’s an actual image of letters/characters as well as the normal. Make sure you type these in as well.

  8. absolutly love them pics you have on this page,, the detail of the moon surface is excellent,, how could a beginer make a scope, just to see the plannets,, unfortunatly haveing not long lost my job im unable to buy a tellyscope,, takecare and ill be often visiting your site…

    • Thanks Anthony, building a scope is possible. It will be a dobsonian, so no motor drives or automatic guiding, but operated by hand only. But a dob is a perfect beginner scope, and what you may build for yourself could easily match the capabilities of a dobsonian bought new. What you will need to buy are the eyepieces, and primary and secondary mirrors. You could actually grind your own mirror, but it’s quite a skilled and precise job, much easier to buy if you can.

      Try this http://www.buildingatelescope.com/

  9. Dear John
    Your website is absolutely fascinating, thank you.
    I wonder if you can help?
    I have been absolutely blown away by the brilliance of the night sky when I’ve woken unexpectedly in the early hours over the last few nights. Whilst on holiday in Cyprus we all sat out for hours watching the sky and shooting stars! So exciting. Rank amateur doesn’t even touch us for a description!
    I would love to buy some sort of binoculars or telescope with tripod and my husband will do his nut if I spend money on something useless. Could you please advise me?
    Many thanks,

    • Hi Effie, sorry for the late reply.

      If I were you iI would invest in some binoculars first before buying a telescope, 10×40’s or 10×50’s are ideal. I have a pair of Nikon 10×40’s and they are great. Binoculars have ease of use, light weight, and total portability over a telescope that could be quite large, and take a while to set up. Binoculars are ideal for scanning around the sky for clusters and nebulae, and let you learn the sky with ease.

      If after that you’re sure you want to venture into buying a scope, dobsonians are often recommended for beginners, Skywatcher make good quality scopes and are not too expensive.

  10. Cannot create an account my humanity is suspect have tried lots of times anyway to be a member.

    • Hi Dave, I’m sorry about that. I myself have no control over the capcha process that tries to asses whether a person is legit or not, sometimes the figures can be a bit hard to read, please try again.

      We would love to have you aboard.


  11. nice web site, i check it from time to time to know about visible planets and go to see them in the sky by my very big telescope!
    want to catch neptune and uranus one day.

    are you updating it yourself or you have some program that writes the info?

  12. I saw a stretch of light at about 11.00pm on the 1st of April in the western part of the sky in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea & lasted for about an hour. What could this be?

    • This may have been the zodiacal light or possibly a noctilucent cloud very high up in the atmosphere

  13. Could I be put on a mailing list to receive your information please John, or do you have to check the site every so often?


  14. Hi David sorry for the delay, at present we don’t have a mailing list but this could change in the future, thanks.


  15. I saw something twinkling next to the moon tonight. It looked like it was flashing and I watched it for quite some time and it didnt move. It looked like it was in the moon light but very close to the moon. I was just wondering if it was just a twinkling star next to the moon or if it was something else.

  16. Hi,
    I am trying to join this forum, but when I fill the form in completely it says in a red bar at the top, “please tell us why you want to join” but there is nowhere to write this info, so I can’t join up, I am trying to do,this on an ipad, so I don’t know whether that has anything to do with it, but I can’t join….
    I,am assuming there should be a text box somewhere to fill this info in, but is nor showing at all.


  17. Hello John Brady,

    I am an old man living in Kelowna, B.C., Canada, a retired mechanical engineer.

    Having just read Fred Bailey’s book, Solar Chord Discovery, I wonder what kind of reception he has had in the astronomical buff community. It seems reasonable to me that the orbits of all of the members of the solar system should be “centered” on the center of mass of the solar system and would like to hear what others think about this. Does the solar system orbit about another center of mass within our galaxy?

    In respect of your astronomical accomplishments,

    Gordon Johnston

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  20. Hello John,

    I am currently in the process of designing a new mobile weather application that will be designed for stargazers. So I was wondering whether I could open a new forum page and ask the users of your website whether they would be willing to fill out a short online questionnaire.



  21. Hi john, I was searching some cool facts about astronomy & I found this cool site. Its really amazing facts you have shared here. I am so glad that I can learn lots of things about astronomy here.

    Thanks again.

  22. I am 72 so I remember when we only had gas lamps in our village, Addingham in yorkshire you could walk 100 yards and be out of the light and have the full milky way unfold in front of you” never to be forgotten
    A few years ago i was a masseur/personal trainer on a passenger ship in the Caribbean and at night I used to lay on the anchor at the ” pointed end of the ship” and watch the night sky as i have never seen it before horizon to horizon, jet black velvet sky with literately billions of stars corner to corner and as an added bonus if I looked down in to the black Caribbean sea , it was full of dancing spots of light created by the ship disturbing the sea life ,just as if the sky was reflected in the water,all good memory’s !!!
    its the north york moors now for my star photography ,,,,,,,

    • Hi Colin, thanks for that. Even I remember the skies being more full of stars where I grew up than they are now. If more people had a chance to witness pristine night skies without light pollution then maybe they wouldn’t be wanting to put lights up everywhere blanking out the stars. Yorkshire is very good for astronomy, but back then it must have been amazing.

      John Brady

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  24. My 10 year old son and I went on a cross country ride to California and back to the east coast in 1997. After seeing the Hoover Dam and heading south night fell upon us. We wanted to reach Arizona before stopping for the night. As we were getting to Arizona it was total darkness, no light pollution, no lights anywhere other than my headlight and the sky was pristine and clear. I pulled over and stopped the bike. Told my son to relax a moment and tell me how many stars he could see. His reply was – wow, I never saw so many stars in my life. He pointed out the Milky Way and several constellations. We laid back on the side of the road and just took in the majesty of it all. I told him to remember this as he wouldn’t see it again back east. The sky there was a mist of star lights.


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