This started as an idea a little while ago, which I pitched to :amiwakawaiidesu: amiwakawaiidesu
, of Holly Mackenzie, the 1996-era member of my "Girls in Time" AU. In the rough history I've sketched out for them, Holly grows up in a block of council flats (after her dad left her mum for his secretary), and money is a bit tight, but they are still reasonably comfortable. Holly grows up loving the stars, and has a low-powered telescope that her mum got her for Christmas the previous year, which she likes to take out at night on the covered walkway in front of their flat (they're on the second floor) and look up. She's gazing at Mars currently, and often dreams that one day she'll visit Mars and set foot on the red planet herself. In the year 2029, the 43-year-old Holly is standing on the surface of Mars as one of the members of the UK Space Agency's Ares 1 mission to set up a self-sustainable colony on Mars (spoiler: they succeed ^^).
The amount of discussion and research from Amiwa that went into this picture is really amazing! ^^
The telescope is based on an actual telescope sourced from Amazon.com, the Orion SpaceProbe II 76mm reflector telescope. Holly's financial situation isn't great, but this model is quite affordable at £70 + £5 shipping (amzn.eu/d/00NVXyG
). It would be powerful enough to see the Moon clearly, or possibly Venus or Mars (though they're obviously a lot further away and may be smaller and blurrier, but still slow moving enough to spot with relative ease. The only difference is Amiwa swapped out the finderscope on top for a more powerful one from a different telescope.
Amiwa also researched the view of the stars in the sky over London early in the morning on Sunday 6 October 1996. This was about the first time in the whole year when Mars would be getting close enough to Earth in their orbits for it to be easily visible during night-time hours. At this time of year, sunrise in London is typically about 7:10am; however, Mars would not be visible even with a telescope by this time in the morning, because the sky would be far too bright by sunrise. It would probably be visible only up until the end of Astronomical Twilight, which would end (at that time of year) at about 5:55am. However in this case, Holly has snuck out of her flat at about 4am, so that she has plenty of time to get a good view of Mars and the stars in the sky before the sun starts to come up. The moon was a waning crescent from London on October 6, close in the sky to Mars (the slightly red/pink dot up towards the top of the picture).
We also researched the weather - temperatures in London during October reached a minimum of 3°C at night, which is honestly quite pleasant for the time of year. Holly is wearing layered t-shirts and a thick pair of baggy jeans, which should be enough to keep her comfortable at that time of night for a short period of stargazing. Sandals may not be the best option for keeping her feet warm at the time of year, however she is wearing thick woollen socks inside them, and the heels give her a bit of extra height to look into her telescope (and she still needs to stand on a crate to reach it as well; otherwise the telescope would be too low down and the outer wall of the balcony-corridor would obscure her view). There was not particularly much wind or rain over London at the time, meaning clear skies and reasonable temperatures (plus the balcony-corridor for the floor above would protect her from rain anyway).
There is a lot of light pollution in towns near London during the night-time, however Holly is two floors up from the ground, so the streetlights are below her, pointing down at the ground. There would be considerably less light obscuring her view from this position than if she were to set up down on ground-level. And of course it's a Sunday morning, so Holly doesn't have to worry about falling asleep at school (she can take it easy and get a good night's sleep before Monday), though she should worry about the risk of waking her mum at 4 in the morning...! xD
Of course, older Holly remembering her childhood stargazing sessions was just the beautiful icing on the cake for this piece, and entirely Amiwa's own idea, with which I was immensely pleased.
Please go and fave and comment on his submission of this piece at the link below! Suggestion: Stargazer Holly by Amiwakawaiidesu