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Everything posted by jamespels

  1. Nice pic and a cool effect! Had exactly the same thing with my Samsung Galaxy. I could see the crescent image move as I moved the phone slightly so 100% definitely a flare or internal reflection.
  2. Hi all, many thanks for the kind words, everyone! For now, Shallow Grange are looking after all the kit for us, I have renewed the domain hosting, etc. and kept the Paypal and bank accounts with their small surplus so PSP can be kicked off again in 2016 if anybody has the time to do so. If we get to this point again next year, I will fold PSP completely and distribute the remaining assets. I have just switched the SW250P / EQ6 combo I never used for a Celestron 5SE (very happy with it based on a 5 minute viewing last night - didn;t have time to cool down and the collimation is slightly out but still got two cloud bands on Jupiter) and I am planning to come to at least one star party this year so will hopefully see you there... Best wishes, James.
  3. Hope this is still in time to be of some use... I gave a small talk at my daughter's primary school (she is in year 1, 5/6 yo) and was promptly invited back to talk to year 5 (9/10 yo) so I guess I got something right... The key thing for me was introducing some very basic science principals in a fun environment so they do not go away thinking science is boring. For the first talk, I did the "why does the moon change shape" thing (note - a white balloon doesn't work - you need something solid: I used a globe removed from its base which was not ideal given it was obvioulsy Earth but worked!). I got the 20 children to take it in turns in groups of 2 or 3 to be "Earth" while I moved the "Moon" round in the light - the beam needed to be quite tight to avoid backlight reflections so we needed to move round a little but it did work. I followed this up with a "Moon Race" (my wife's idea - she is an ex-teacher) where the children divide into two teams (probably three if you have 30 in the class) and had to pass a number of balloons from front to back without using their hands - done under the pretext of "teamwork" but really an excuse to get them to enjoy themselves and associate space / science with fun. Mixed in with it all was a free-for-all Q&A session - yes, the God question came up (it is a Catholic school) so I just went for the "some people believe God made Man, some do not" answer - no point upsetting the school or arguing against a 5yo who will believe his dad no matter what you say... The follow-up lesson was put to me as a Q&A session for some older kids who had questions too detailed for their teacher to answer. With a little trepidation, I opened with a short movie about the lives of stars and went for it with the questions. I was frankly amazed at the quality of questions and ended up having to email the teacher afterwards with the answers to two I did not know off-hand. This class asked questions constantly for 40 mins (we overran badly!) and there was still a forest of hands up at the end. If you go down this route, be prepared to answer questions about all sorts of things and get ready to sketch on a board - most were broadly on topic but covered everything from basic orbital mechanics to why Pluto is no longer a full planet to why the sea is salty to why nebulae are pretty to why asteroids are not round and pretty much everything in between. I finished with a "size of things" video which blew them away and triggered a whole bunch more questions about where they can see a supergiant - I told them about the two bright ones in Orion and they all promised to look when it got dark. If you can find the time to spend with children and have your wits about you, it is a HUGELY rewarding eperience. I truly believe that primary school is the age to get kids interested in science as they have already decided what they are interested in by the time they get to secondary school. Two golden rules to finish: admit what you do not know as you will get caught out if you make it up and KEEP IT FUN! HTH, James.
  4. Hi everybody, with great regret, I have to announce that I am retiring from running PSP. Due to a change in circumstances (I have moved back into contracting and am away from home in the week), I am going to have to give up PSP so I can keep weekends clear for family stuff, help out with the school PTA and so on. I have discussed it with a few people who might be interested in picking it up and there are a lot of people willing to help out, but nobody has volunteered to run it yet. I am therefore opening it up to anybody who genuinely wants to and has the time to do so. The way I have been running PSP, it involves the following. Obviously, it would be up to you do do as much or as little as you see fit for each of these - I fully appreciate there are better ways of doing much of it! - sorting out the website - advertising on SGL, UKAI and UK astronomy press as you see fit - coordinating volunteers and helpers - managing bookings - arranging guest speakers - arranging trade stands - coordinating with Ed & Marilyn at Shallow Grange or any other location - arranging loan of tents from the Scouts, etc. - arranging insurance - keeping on top of the financials All the equipment needed to run PSP at Shallow Grange is in storage at the farm; I will move control of the PSP bank account, Paypal account, website, email, etc. to whoever wants to pick it up but please be aware there is some personal commitment when it comes to the bank and paypal accounts (i.e. they need to be in a person's or business' name as there is no legal "Peak Star Party" entity). I will obviously help and advise but cannot commit any substantial time to PSP this year and would need somebody else to "own" it. If you are interested in taking all or part of PSP on, please drop me an email to info@peakstarparty.co.uk and I will send out an introductory email to anybody interested. To keep this manageable, I suggest a deadline of the end of the month to agree new ownership which means I really need to hear from you by the weekend of 24/25 Jan at the latest. If nobody wants to pick PSP up by then, I will announce the end of PSP and make arrangements for distributing existing assets to local schools and charities. Running PSP has (mostly!!!) been great fun and I am sorry to have to walk away from it but I really cannot carry on with it; if I do find I have time, I will concentrate on the educational aspects and getting schools involved. Thanks, James.
  5. Hi all, Happy New Year to everybody... please bear with me a little on PSP2015 - it is proving to be a little more challenging than I anticipated. Thanks, James.
  6. * Grumble * Starting to get frustrated with STEMNet - I have arranged a few sessions with a local school to help teach physics to primary school students: talking about "why does the moon change shape" with yr 1 (5-6yo) yesterday, with a great Q&A session afterwards, and going back on Monday to talk about the lives of stars with yr 5 (9-10yo). Spoke to the local organisers (now being run by Entrust as a profit-making venture) and was asked to fill in forms so they could claim the funding!!! I wouldn't mind if Entrust put the money back into education but why on earth should a profit-making venture get government funding for something I organised myself??? Anybody know how the STEM funding model works? If these providers get paid per STEM session delivered, it is time STEMNet (or at least the local provider) and I parted company.
  7. Quick reminder about this - fantastic opportunity to hear a great speaker on a really interesting subject... For anyone who is not aware, Kepler discovered the laws of planetary motion that formed one of the foundations of Newton's laws of gravity. He is most certainly on of the giants on whose shoulders Newton stood! Dr Chapman is an accomplished lecturer who has been a visiting professor at Gresham College and delivered the Royal Society history of science Wilkins Lecture, on the subject of Edmund Halley. We have a large lecture theatre at Keele University so there is plenty of space left - do please come along and support a local Astro Soc!
  8. Hi all, I promised an update by mid November but it is taking a little longer to get this sorted than I anticipated. I cannot give to much detail yet but I have been discussing PSP with the local quarries and they have become interested in getting more actively involved. I am meeting with one on Friday 28 Nov and will have a clearer idea what, if anything, they can do support us by then. Also, we are possibly going to extend PSP to run from the Thursday for 2015 - again, more details to follow. This won't help with the moon but it will increase the chances of a decent night! Thanks, James.
  9. Yep, appreciated on the moon issue but for the last two years we have had cloud and rain over new moon weekend, preceded by fine and clear weekends! We are trying to strike a balance that increasing the chances of seeing something, even if that is the moon! Tbh, a half moon is nowhere near as bright as a full moon; it does not drown out DSOs across the whole sky and makes a decent observing target itself. Our only other option is to move to the Sept new moon but that clashes with Kelling so too many people would not be able to make it. animal666 and reddos: have you been to PSP before? There is a lot to do as well as the astronomy and so far all the people who have been before and replied are fine with a half moon. It is obviously up to you if this is a deal breaker for you or not but maybe you should give it a try? Thanks, James
  10. Hi all, just to let you know about the Dr Allan Chapman lecture, "Johannea Kepler - Astronomer of the Ellipses" coming up at Keele University (near M6 J15) on 29 Nov. Admission just £5 for non North Staffs AS members. Details here:http://www.northstaffsas.co.uk/allanchapmankeele.html
  11. HOW DID WE MISS IT????? "My Dob, it's full of stars!"
  12. Congratulations Cameron, really looking forward to seeing the pic...
  13. Pure guess, but... If comets are made up largely of water ice (dunno how much but let's go with that idea), and some can melt when the comet is near perihelion, could it re-freeze to form water ice boulders? At minus many degrees they would be hard like this. The colour would come from all the other material. Not sure how this could happen as liquid water should boil instantly in a vacuum bit could possibly happen deeper inside? Like I said, pure guess.
  14. Massively important achievement and an inspiration for generations. Huge respect and congratulations to all involved.
  15. On the surface... BBS News 24 is slightly ahead of the streams
  16. Have a day off and am trying to write up the minutes from a PTA meeting - no chance with this going on at the same time
  17. Can't reconnect now - seems to be stuck at 182,818 connections...
  18. or maybe not - he's gone away again. Still says 14:00 GMT start for a 16:02 GMT expected touchdown
  19. Nah - they chose option J because it is on the other side from the alien fleet...
  20. True, but I reckon it is quite a lot less than the effect of the manoeuvring thrusters which I have already dismissed!
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