The picture above shows a rather striking image of the great planet Jupiter sitting majestically in the blackness of space. It is flanked by four of its beautiful moons, Ganymede, Callisto, Europa and the fiery volcanic moon Io. However for me as a teacher at International School Manila, the true wonder of this image lies in the fact that this is what I observed at around 18:30 on Monday 21st February through a recently acquired telescope in my own back yard.

 What I am particularly keen to share with you is that this did not require some highly expensive all singing, all dancing piece of state of the art equipment. I observed it using my rather modest 3 inch reflector telescope (pictured above) acquired locally combined with a little bit of patience and perseverance. The results of this modest astronomical endeavour on my part have to be honest at times almost brought me to my knees in amazement. My neighbours really must wonder what is going on some evenings as I am unable to contain my exclamations of excitement and disbelief at what I am able to observe in the night sky, here in Manila.

 What I beleieve is that the key to gaining a real appreciation of the wonders of what lies beyond the blue marble of our own planet and a truly universal perspective on our existence as human beings is to get out there and see it for yourself. You don’t even need a telescope. Binoculars offer a wonderful, wide field of view and even using just your eyes to gaze at what you are surrounded by in space can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Wht not give it a go yourself ?!

 To conclude our mini exploration of investigating space from a local perspective I have attached a fascinating clip from a recent T.V. series featuring the current rising star of Astronomy, Professor Brian Cox who is keen to make Astronomy less of an elite past time and something that can instead be accessed by everybody. The film is about Io, one of the moons pictured above. Give the picture below a click and see what you think…………….