Dr Ian Musgrave of South Australia, is well known within the iTelescope & amateur astronomy community for both his Astroblog and his Sky Alerts. He is also one of iTelescope's top Science Advisors and a member of the STEREOHUNTER Group.
Ian is a fantastic individual who goes out of his way to help bring information and understanding to the Astronomy Community and a great asset to iTelescope! We are happy to highlight this Member in Focus today:
"Asimov, I think, once said that most scientific discoveries don't begin with a cry of "Eureka", but of "Hmmm, that's funny".
My "hmmm that's funny" moment came when my mate Comet Al asked me to check a potential comet he found in the STEREO spacecraft images. "Found it" said I, sending back what I thought was my confirmation image. "That's Mercury" replies Comet Al. "But it has a tail" I wailed. This serendipitous observation eventually resulted in my name being on a paper presented to the International Planetary Society Meeting.
I've always been interested in astronomy. Some of my earliest memories are lying out in the backyard with dad's old binoculars scanning the sky. Now I am the proud possessor of four telescopes (one my dad and I built together) and two pairs of binoculars (I still have dad's binoculars). While I'm primarily interested in planetary astronomy, I'm just as happy sitting under a clear sky watching satellites go by.
With so many telescopes at my disposal, why iTelescope? One word, comets. I'm a bit of a comet tragic; decades ago I took my then girlfriend camping to show her Halley's comet. "It's a fuzzy dot" she said, "you got me up at 4 am to see a fuzzy dot?". I was unable to comprehend how she could not be amazed by this historic visitor to our skies.
While I'm fascinated by comets my current kit can't do astrophotography of comets (did I mention I made my current CCD cam from a web cam), and I came to iTelescope (then Global-Rent-a-Scope) for comets. My first serious use of the scopes was trying to follow up an apparent comet spotted by Comet Al.
And I've never looked back. I've imaged so many fantastic comets that I never would have had a chance to see with my gear, firmly rooted in Australia. My favorite iTelescope comet to date has to be comet C/2009 G1 Garradd, a little beauty that kept us all enthralled for months with its amazing double tail.
My iTelescope images haven't had as much scientific impact as my sighting of Mercury's ion tail in the STEREO images, but I did help confirm that comet C/2010 X1 Elenin had disintegrated.
Probably my highest impact iTelescope image was one of 103P Hartley 2, unfortunately however that was because someone had taken it , added a picture of the crescent Moon and then claimed it was an image of an unknown planet X.
But that turned into an opportunity to help communicate astronomy to a wider audience, and to explain to people a range of issues around the alleged planet. What could have been a major annoyance helped me do something I'm passionate about, helping people see the night skyand its wonders. Which is where iTelescope comes in again.
iTelescope has given me a unique chance to help people see the sky. I've been given the opportunity to be a science advisor to iTelescope and help people out with issues of target selection and other science related queries. As well, through my SkyAlerts and my (sort of) monthly Sky Updates I can help people see some fantastic things they might have missed otherwise. In this way I can contribute to the community that has given so much to me."