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Everything posted by JamesF

  1. You're very welcome. I have an MN190 to set up myself now my observatory is progressing, so it's useful information for me, too. Mine already has a Moonlight focuser (came that way when I bought it used), so I shall be checking it all out when I'm ready to mount it up. James
  2. And a few threads from the archives that might be worth reading, though I don't know if this includes the one Olly was thinking of:
  3. Well, that was fun I hopefully have reasonable polar alignment on two mounts now. I need to roll the roof back further for the last, but since I only have a temporary arrangement for supporting the roof rails I chickened out. Should be good enough for a bit of solar and lunar, anyhow. Not that there seems to be much doing on the solar front for the time being, but even getting a few crisp images of the disc would be a good place to start getting back into things. James
  4. Oh, excellent! I am now in the observatory and my laptop can (just) pick up wifi from the router in my office window. Most pleased :)
  5. I have found my handset and have one mount powered up at the moment. Took me a while to remember how to turn the LED on for the polar scope Turns out the end flap is not actually an end flap as I planned, but in fact a cat preening platform. Perhaps I can train them to close it up as well. James
  6. That sounds like a fine plan. I shall give it some thought. I've probably got something lying about (don't I always that will do the job. James
  7. As expected, most of yesterday was spent tidying the garden. The builder should at least now have a clear run at creating the new entrance for the barn conversion. And I have another pile of wood to chop up for the woodburner this winter. I did however manage to finish off the end flap so it fits properly, though it still lacks bolts to hold it closed. I think that should be fairly straightforward however, so I'll try to get that done this week. I also fitted shelves in the warm room cupboard, which means more things can be moved from the house. There's also a vague suggestion of some clear sky this week, in which case I'll have a first pass at polar aligning the mounts. James
  8. Quite so. Fortunately I've not been stung on bare skin myself for quite some time. Once in a while they do get through my bee suit and t-shirt (I wear a very thin suit and a t-shirt and shorts underneath as I get very hot otherwise), but then it's more of a prickle and doesn't bother me too much. James
  9. Of course I forgot perhaps the most likely way bees will be harmed when working the hives. I'm extracting wax from old comb at the moment and remembered whilst I was putting the next set of frames in... A honey bee's "sting" is a marvel of nature's engineering. It's in two barbed longitudinal pieces that slide against each other. When the sting pierces something, a barb prevents it coming out easily and the other half of the sting then drives itself in further against the grip of the first barb, so it gets a better grip and so on. That's it for the bee really, because there's no way out without pulling off the end of its abdomen (which will kill it). The part that remains contains the venom sac and all the necessary bits to deliver it through the sting (and they continue working even if the bee isn't there), so even if the bee does fly off or get brushed away, the sting is still delivering venom. Very effective, brutal, and unfortunately deadly for the bee. Even if the bee-keeper doesn't actually get stung at all a bee might sometimes attempt to sting through the gloves or bee suit. There's not much you can do about that. James
  10. I usually catch the swarm in a box. Once the queen is inside she'll generally stay there and any stragglers will fly to her, so I leave it upside down with one corner propped open, on an old sheet. When they're all inside I fold the sheet up over the box and tie the ends together so they can't get out. I'll take them to the apiary like that and transfer them to a hive as soon as possible -- immediately after capturing them if I have time, but when it's late at night it has to be done first thing the next morning. As long as it's not for more than a few hours they're quite calm that way. Sometimes they'll even start drawing out comb on the sides of the box. Driving a car when you know you have a few thousand bees in the boot that you don't want escaping certainly makes you very aware of how carefully you're driving James
  11. As they're managed in the UK, there's always a chance of harming one or two bees whenever a hive is manipulated because there are thousands of them running all over the place and it's difficult to make sure they're all out of the way when reassembling the hive. Given that traditionally we're taught that hives should be inspected every ten days or thereabouts when the bees are active it's pretty much impossible to avoid completely no matter how hard you try. Specifically when collecting honey, the only way I've personally seen it done by anyone is to place a sort of "one way gate" between the boxes containing honey and the main area of the hive, which usually makes sure there are no bees in them when they're removed from the hive so the risk to the bees is minimal. I have heard that in the US where honey is often the by-product of a crop pollination service (honey bees are trucked across the continent specifically to pollinate industrially-produced crops), leaf blowers are sometimes used to blow the bees off the comb containing the honey. I imagine the chances of injuring bees are somewhat higher if that is the case. There are times when a bee-keeper might deliberately kill a bee during what many might consider "the normal course of events" however. The queen is considered to set the general "mood" of the hive: some are very placid whilst others can be more aggressive (or more defensive if you like -- you're invading their home, after all). Some bee-keepers will remove the queen from an aggressive hive (because it really is no fun working with a face full of moody bees all trying to find some way to sting you) and kill her, replacing her with a more docile queen. Some people are looking at keeping bees in a more "natural" way, using different styles of hive and different methods of collecting honey, but I don't know if there's much interest in the UK yet. It's certainly something I'd like to look into more. I think it will work out considerably more expensive in terms of the unit cost of the honey produced because (as I understand it) there's no way to return the comb to the hives to save the bees building more for the next year. James
  12. If it's a pint glass and the noise from flying was quite deep, then I think that's much more indicative of a hornet. James
  13. Hard to get a sense of scale from that photo, but a queen common wasp is probably around 25mm long. A hornet is probably nearer 40mm long. If you saw it and thought "Hmmm, that's quite a big wasp", it's probably a wasp. If you thought "Hellfire! That's enormous!" then it was probably a hornet I think hornets (the ones we commonly see in the UK, at least) tend to have a browner throax than the common wasp, but again it's hard to tell from the photo. To me, the hornet abdomen looks more angular than that of the wasp so in this case I'd probably plump for wasp if I had to, but I'm really not sure. James
  14. Following the link at the start of the post gives a 404 error, so I'd be fairly sure it's gone. James
  15. Hornets seem to be the issue here at the moment. There were quite a few wasp queens about earlier in the month, still looking for places to set up home for the year, but now there seem to be hornets everywhere. We've had four in the house in the last week. James
  16. Quite so. Unfortunately I think we're about approaching "peak school fees" :( James
  17. Well at least the ST80 is mostly metal. James
  18. Is it all made out of plastic then? James
  19. Nothing showing for me, but that's because they're using images that are ten years old :) Impressive that yours is visible though. James
  20. I wouldn't bother, personally. I've had no problems using a wedge with my ST120. If you're really worried about what happens off-axis, then when you're done observing just point the OTA east of the Sun or at the ground. James
  21. So, pull the diagonal so the drawtube is empty, point it at the Sun and allow it to drift out of view and you reckon it would start to melt? James
  22. Quite. I find contemplation of the childrens' school fees generally helps to calm impulsive thoughts James
  23. Definitely air in the tiles themselves, I think. They lay quite flat on the floor normally. James
  24. Well, the foam tiles are absolutely full of air bubbles, so letting the air out of them all might be quite time-consuming :) James
  25. I'm struggling to be convinced. Partly because there's precious little that will actually burn and partly because off-axis the energy is likely to be spread over a larger area then when on-axis. If I ever see an ST80 come up for sale cheap though (and I don't want it for a guidescope), I shall buy it and set it up pointing at the Sun and see if the OTA bursts into flame as it drifts off. James
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