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Showing content with the highest reputation since 04/06/12 in Blog Entries

  1. 5 points
    Toot and I had a great time in Norwich last night. Dr Michael Foale CBE gave a talk about his life as an astronaut to a packed audience at the University of East Anglia. What an accomplished, kind and measured man. A couple of hours in his company passed very quickly. He has great interpersonal skills and although we only spoke to him very briefly, both my partner and I felt we had 'met him' rather than just 'heard him' speak. What an exciting, if not at times scary, life and career he has had? Highlights include: a spacewalk to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope's computer from a 386 to a 486 ( I had one of each but I only had to fetch them from Currys) stopping the MIR space station from spinning out of control after it had been hit by a supply vessel commanding the International Space Station There were many children in the audience who were very interested in space and science. Dr Foale encouraged them to do what they were good at, pursue their dreams and not to be deterred by setbacks. He paid particular care to encourage girls to pursue careers in science and aerospace. He very kindly - let anyone who wanted to - have their photograph taken with him. A long queue of excited children formed down one side of the Lecture Hall. "Dr Foale, I could tell you that the photograph is for my grandchildren, but really its for me" said a very excited and pleased old man. If you get a chance to hear him speak and/or go to events organised by ISSET or a 'Pint of Science' - go for it!
  2. 4 points
    Last night I took 35 80 second subs using my camera with a 400mm tele lens mounted next to a 70 x700mm scope on my EQ3 mount on an EQ5 tripod. Quick and dirty aligned using the polar scope, no drift align. Over 1 hour 7 minutes, the images offset by a total of 32 pixels vertical, 8 pixels horizontal, but almost all the horizontal drift was on the first two images (presumably taking up the backlash). So the real drift was about 32 pixels or 1 pixel every 2 minutes. Looking at the subs I thought I could spot a few where there was more noticeable movement between subs - then I checked and these 'jumps' were where I had dropped subs because of aeroplane trails, causing nearer to a 2-pixel jump instead of one. There didn't seem to be any of the jumps I would have expected if there was significant periodic error in the worm wheel. What was most striking is that every single sub showed nice round stars - as would be expected if the camera had strayed less than 0.5 pixels either side of the mean position. I won't pretend that these results are good enough for long subs, but they do show that an EQ3 mount properly balanced and aligned with a bit of care on a solid tripod is capable of long enough exposures for imaging DSOs. It also suggests to me that it will be worth me upgrading to autoguiding before upgrading my mount - which is against conventional wisdom. It also lends support to my suspicion that the weakness in the normal EQ3 setup is the aluminium tripod not the mount. Something I want to try is taking long, unguided, wide field exposures. With a 28mm lens the tracking errors should be under a pixel even at 10 minutes exposure. This should be also be a way to see if there is significant periodic error.
  3. 4 points
    I've mentioned a few times that I've recently bought a road bike and have started riding a lot more and I though since I've not got anything astronomical to discuss I would do this instead :) I bought a nice giant defy 0 bike on the cycle to work scheme and spent an extra £200 swapping the brakes, chainset and front mech so it now has a full ultegra groupset.it's perfectly geared for an unfit ex smoker like me with a 50/34 chainset and 11-32 casette and I can get up most hills despite my heart rate touching 190bpm on the long/steep ones.I added a garmin edge 1000 to my ride just over a month ago and have been logging my rides on strava.one particular hill I cycle I have dropped 3 minutes off it in 2 months so the fitness is coming. It's all building up to one event-a 73 mile sportive in october-the wiggle south downs ride.I was originally planning on riding the 42 mile version (there's 3-42/73/100) but my friend graham talked me into the 73.so I talked him into riding it too!!!I've analysed the route and there's one section that could cause problems-a closed road climb up butser hill.this is pretty steep with a 0.3 mile section of 10-18.5% and it's narrow and dirty most if the time.I was pretty sure I could do all the rest of it ok but wasn't sure about this as it was as steep but longer than another climb called crooked walk lane that I had failed on.training needed doing so I've worked my way through the steep roads of portsdown hill near where I live and last week I nailed the dreaded crooked walk lane so I was happy with training.anyway I went out Sunday with a route loaded into my garmin that took me from my house, through some gentle hills and quieter roads and out to another longish hill called old winchester hill.managed this pretty ok and down the other side in preperation to try the butser climb on my sportive route.before the ride I had put both these climbs on the route just to recce them and walk if needed but finding my way at the top of butser hill punching the air with lungs slapping my rib cage the mystic had gone a bit.I'm now looking forward to the event even more now I know I can do the hardest bit and can't wait to do the 100 mile version next year. In fact next year has big plans.I want to do at least 5 or 6 of the wiggle 100 milers and the Hampshire hilly hundred too and also cycle round the isle of wight.I was close to trying the Isle of wight recently but I'm not sure I'm ready yet so want to leave it a bit. I'm already dreaming of a trip to France to do some hills like alp d'huez or mont ventoux or le lacets de montvernier but think I'm a way off that yet. Still happy in my new hobby though. Anyone on strava let me know your name and I will add you :) Clear skies Rich
  4. 3 points
    The Discovery of the Sculptor Galaxy by Miss Caroline Herschel in 1783 On the 23rd of September 1783, sitting before her telescope in the field behind the house she shared with her brother William in Datchet near Slough in the south of England, Miss Caroline Herschel "swept" the sky searching for new comets and never before seen star clusters and nebulae. On this occasion, way down in the sky, not far above the Southern horizon, Miss Herschel saw and noted down a very bright and large nebula where one had never before been recorded and that was later recognised by her brother, Sir William, as the discovery by Caroline Herschel of the nebula he listed in his catalogue as H V.1. ( circ. 1825-33, Sir John Herschel, beloved nephew of Miss Caroline Herschel ) Today we know this 'nebula' to be, not as some thought then, a swirling mass of stars and gases within our own galaxy, but rather, a galaxy not unlike our own but way more distant than the outer reaches of of own Milkyway galaxy. Given various names, Silver Dollar Galaxy, Sliver Coin Galaxy or simply by its number in the New General Catalogue, NGC 253, it is most commonly called the Sculptor Galaxy and we owe its discovery to the first female professional astronomer. Caroline Herschel ( 1750 - 1848 ) ... ( link ) ( 1782 - 1783 ) ... ... ... H V.1 Observed ( by WH ): 30 Oct 1784 128 minutes, 17 seconds following and 1 degree, 39 minutes north of referenced star Description: - cB: "confidently bright" - mE: "much extended: - sp: "south preceding" - nf: "north following" -mbF: "much brighter middle" - size: 50' x 7 or 8' from: ( link ) ............................... The location reference to H V.1 ( NGC 253 ) in William Hershel's catalogue is in relation to a star found in Flamsteed's Catalogue, 18 Pis. Aust., which is #18 in Piscis Austrainus or Epsilon PsA, the 4th magnitude star HD214748 ( HIP111954 ) ( source ) ( Plate from "Atlas Coelestis" by John Flamsteed, 1646-1719 ) ------------------------------------- William Herschel found favour with the King and was granted a position as Royal Astronomer to George III in 1782. Shortly after, William and Caroline moved from Bath to Datchet ( near Windsor ) and took up residency in a rented house which, whilst somewhat delapadated and damp, had ample accommodation and fields for William to construct and deploy the large telescopes he wished to build. It was in these grounds that Caroline set up her "Sweeper" to look for comets and doing so also discovered a number of 'nebulae' including ( in 1783 ) what was later to become known as the Sculptor Galaxy. ( The Herschel house at Datchet near Windsor ) ( The Lawn, Horton Road, Slough ( Datchet ) - Google Maps ) ............. Caroline Herschel's "Sweeper" was a 27" focal length Newtonian telescope that was supported in a kind of altitude-azimuth mount consisting of a rotating table and a small gantry and pulley system that was used to effect altitude adjustments by sliding the tube up and down against a board used to provide stability. There has been some conjecture as to the exact details of the construction, however the image below, even if perhaps not the actual instrument, gives an indication of the overal design philosophy. Late in her life Caroline Herschel recorded details of her telescope in a booklet titled "My little Newtonian sweeper": In her memoir, Caroline Herschel describes the performance of her observations as the conducting of "horizontal sweeps"; from which one might assume the task consisted of setting the altitude in accordance with the plan for the night's observing and then slowing rotating the top of the table in azimuth as one observed and noted down the objects that passed across the view in the eyepiece. However, with the arrival of this new "telescopic sweeper" in the middle of 1783, Caroline Herschel added the new method of sweeping in the vertical, as noted below in an extract from her observing book ( source for both extracts: "Caroline Herschel as observer", Michael Hoskin, Journal for the History of Astronomy, 2005 ) .... The achievement of her discovery of the 'nebula' in the Sculptor constellation was remarkable in so many ways; not the least of which being the low path in the sky that the Sculptor galaxy follows when observed from Datchet in southern England - which on the night of her observation would not have exceeded 12 degrees or so above the horizon. Today, 234 years later, and blessed with 21st century luxuries and conveniences, I write on my IPAD and flip over to my planetarium application, SkySafari, and model the sky as it was seen by Caroline Herschel from near her house on the 23rd of September, 1783 ... ( SkySafari by Simulation Curriculum )
  5. 2 points
    So I started staring at the sky many years ago, I lived in the Black Country (no not Birmingham but if you don't know where it is I'll live with it's close) where the night sky is frankly a permanent orange glow. I was fortunate to move to Cornwall a few years back and........wow, a whole new world came to life so I decided to buy my first telescope last January, a Heritage 100P; why that model I here you ask? Well firstly I lose interest, I have the attention span of a goldfish, I knew I would need something I could grab at a moment's notice and after 9 months I can say that box is ticked, for a newbie this scope is perfect! I also need to point out that I have the finances of a Neanderthal cavemen before the conception of money......but then with huge good fortune a 200P drops in my lap for less than a couple of mid range eyepieces.......I am in heaven not just looking for it! Skip a few months and here I am, owner of two telescopes, a starting collection in equipment, a library of books, numerous software programs and passion for darkness and being outside just staring. I know some constellations, I've seen Jupiter and Saturn, some clusters and scarily a 747 (that was a shock!), oh and yes that small circulating satellite the Moon. I hope to regularly update on my journey whether I find a new planet or nothing because I can't see through the mizzle (look that up, wasn't in my dictionary either until I moved here
  6. 2 points
    My 1000d and 55-200mm lens came through the post last week--I tested it, and everything's working great! I put my own touch on the day's work by forgetting to remove my (only) SD card from the cam when I packaged it up again for Xmas. It wasn't until I had finished a very thorough sticky tape job on the box that I remembered... :BangHead: :grin: :grin: :grin: John
  7. 1 point
    I've offered to give a talk with pictures to our local social group and thought a Blog on here would be a good place to prepare and assemble it. Also, I would welcome any comments and suggestions. I have a few ideas and will see how it progresses. I will probably take me several days to get my initial ideas sorted out.
  8. 1 point
    The new combined 12v power hub/focus controller/USB hub is now installed on the mount head and all wired up. I'm pleased as a really really pleased thing with it. A billion thanks to my friend Dave Lloyd for all his help. The wiring to and from the mount now consists of just 4 cables. 12v power to the EQ8 USB to the EQ8 (EQDIR cable) 12v to the new power hub mounted on the mount head USB to the USB hub on the mount head ount body and a 12v power and a USB cable to the mount head
  9. 1 point
    № 11 / November 18, 2016 / Home / 1955-2035 JST / Cold & clear / 15x70, 8x42 I went outside before moonrise to find The Golfputter, and I succeeded. I saw a shooting star pass from south to north just below M31. The last 10 minutes were consumed by a conversation with the next door neighbor, who'd stepped outside for a cigarette. CONSTELLATIONS: And / Ari / Aur / Cas / Cep / Per / Tri DEEP SKY OBJECTS: Kemble 1 (As/Cam) - M31 (SG/And) - M33 (SG/Tri) Same hazy patch M36 (OC/Aur) - M37 (OC/Aur) - M38 (OC/Aur) - M45 (OC/Tau) Naked-eye only. I doubt I'll ever resolve more than two points of light. Mel 20 (OC/Per) - NGC 752 (OC/And) I liked it! It appears as a widely distributed patch of stars; I pictured them as grains of sand being disturbed by the Golfputter. Golfputter (As/And) First sighting! It's distinct, but unlike Kemble's Cascade, doesn't suffer when viewed through lower magnification.
  10. 1 point
    I guess its going to be another cloudy night. I feel like I haven't used my telescope in ages! Good to be back though after so long. I got some good images of Uranus, The moon, a few star clusters, and Jupiter, but other than that, wasn't that eventful of a night. Comment what you saw!
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