I was born and raised in Lancashire and I have loved astronomy since I was a child. I inherited a fascination of the Moon from my Mum, who was a child of the Apollo era and has always been interested in astronomy herself. I had my head in the astronomy sections of our encyclopaedia set before I could even properly read the text and I was really captivated by a Ladybird book about the constellations and their mythology. I got my first telescope for my 11th birthday (the best birthday ever!) and despite not having a clue about how to use it properly, I did successfully view the Moon through it and managed to do a solar projection using instructions from a book. In the absence of an astronomy mentor, I didn’t really progress beyond the basics for many years.
My passion for the subject was re-ignited when I became disabled and had to give up work for a number of years. During 2010/2011, my Mum and I had the opportunity to study for the Astronomy GCSE and this is where my astrophotography journey began, with a Helios refractor, Canon Powershot compact camera and a pair of elastic bands! My interest was well and truly piqued after studying the GCSE and I then went on to study the Certificate in Astronomy and Planetary Science via the Open University.
My husband Mark and I are both keen astrophotographers and enjoy imaging from our home observatory under the dark skies of rural Oxfordshire. My images have appeared in astronomy magazines, astronomy books, local and national newspapers, and on various tv shows. I also love astronomy sketching because it makes me feel better “connected” with the object I’m observing. I have found sketching has helped to really improve my astronomy knowledge in a way that photography doesn’t. Mark and I also run several Global Meteor Network cameras from our home so we can study meteors, and I appeared on the May 2023 episode of The Sky at Night on BBC4 talking about the GMN meteor camera network.
I enjoy writing and have had many articles appear in Sky at Night magazine and the Year Book of Astronomy. I am a co-author of the Collins Stargazing Bible, which is due for publication in September 2024, and have contributed chapters to other books which hopefully will be published this year. I have made numerous appearances on BBC Radio Oxford, and have also appeared on BBC Five Live and BBC Radio Four. I once appeared on The One Show showing our observatory shed.
I am the co-host of the Sky at Night magazine weekly podcast “Star Diary”, a regular co-host on the radio show “Comet Watch” and I am an occasional panel member on the Space Oddities live You Tube panel show. I am passionate about outreach and I have a busy schedule giving talks on a variety of astronomy subjects along with practical astrophotography and astronomy sketching workshops to people of all age ranges. I keep my DBS check up to date so I am available to do visits to Cubs/Scouts, schools and home-educated groups.
In March 2018 I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. I am a member of the British Astronomical Association and am on the council of the Society for Popular Astronomy. In 2021 I was awarded the Sir Patrick Moore prize by the British Astronomical Association for my contributions to astronomy outreach.
When I’m not doing astronomy related activities, I enjoy other types of photography and microscopy. I play bass guitar and sing with local musicians. Other hobbies include art and crafts, and I love creating artwork and jewellery which is inspired by astronomy. I enjoy baking and creating special effects props and make up looks which fuel my obsession with Halloween! I also love spending quality time with our cats.
In 2020 I was interviewed for a video podcast where I talk about how I have overcome the physical challenges life has thrown at me, and turned them into a positive experience. Being disabled doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy astronomy! The video can be viewed here.