Who am I and why do I take pictures of the night sky?

My name is Gordon Haynes, I am 47 years old and work as a psychiatric nurse on night duty in Hereford. I live with my girlfriend Joanna and 2 german pointer dogs called Blue and Storm. We now have a new addition to the family "Gunner" another german pointer from the GSP rescue.

I have always had a fascination with the night sky ever since I was a youngster at primary school and followed the Apollo Moon missions even getting my father to wake me up at some very unsociable hour of the morning to watch the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. My father had a very old copy of the original Guinness book of records which had a black and white photograph of the Andromeda Galaxy in it which I thought was stunning but at the time I could not understand that if it was so big why couldn't I see it? The answer to this became clearer later.

As I got older and into my early teens I was bought a simple refracting telescope with a 2" aperture on a very rickety table tripod and the focusing was a push/pull sliding tube mechanism, it was only any good for observing the moon but what a difference that made. Later when I started work I bought myself a 4.5" Newtonian reflector on a big wooden tripod, this was much better and showed a lot more but because the construction quality was so poor it was prone to vibration so it was never going to be any good for imaging.

At this time astrophotographers around the world were taking images of the night sky using film which had been specially treated and the equipment that they were using was well out of my price range so the imaging side of things was definitely an afterthought for me at this time.

Over the next few years astronomy took a back seat for me as I was into sport namely cycle racing and running and more often than not both together in duathlon. But 3 years ago with the benefit of plenty of overtime, more affordable equipment and the availability of digital imaging equipment I decided to take the plunge and give it a proper go.

Thanks to the overtime money I have a system that works like a dream and gives me a lot of enjoyment.

Me and my telescope         Blue and Storm

Blue, Storm and Gunner
 
It was with great sadness that we had to say goodbye to my best friend "Blue" aged 11 on Thursday March 5th 2009. He was 2 years old when I first met my partner Joanna but he took to me straight away and he was always a "daddies" boy and we had some great times together. Last year shortly after getting Gunner from German Short Haired Pointer rescue as a playmate for Blue as Storm was getting to old for playing, poor old Blue went a bit lame and we thought that he had just over exerted himself but resting him didn't resolve the issue so we took him to the vet who did some x-rays and tests and diagnosed cancer in his right front leg. The vet said that he could amputate the leg but that wouldn't have been fair on Blue as he already had arthritis in his left leg so all we could do was put him on pain killers knowing that at some point we would have to make that awful decision to let him go before he started suffering. Unfortunately that time came last week as he had started to go down hill. He was still enjoying the fuss, his walks, food and was always happy and affectionate, but he was losing weight and getting slower and finding it difficult to get up and down the stairs but we didn't want to be in a position where he was in uncontrollable pain. At least he was in our arms when he passed away which was very peaceful. He will be very sadly missed. We knew this was going to happen and in view of Gunner being a relative youngster at 7 and very lively we thought it only fair that he should have a new playmate as Storm at nearly 13 just wants to chill out and he has a spine condition which means he has weak back legs so is not up to playing. My partner Joanna had been searching on the rescue site during the last few weeks and found a suitable candidate, "Hunter" and we arranged to see him on the Sunday after we said goodbye to Blue. He is now a new member of our family (not a replacement for Blue as nothing could replace him) and he is settling in very well. He is 6 years old and as with all our family he is a German Pointer. Below are pictures of Blue, Storm, Gunner and Hunter