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Paul M

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About Paul M

  • Rank
    Trailer Trash
  • Birthday 29/09/64

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Interests
    Astronomy, Scuba Diving and walking my daft Labradoodle.
  • Location
    Fylde Coast (Home), or Rural Cumbria (Away)
  1. Cassiopeia

    I love seeing what smartphones can do. Having had a real close look and just stretching the contrast, I've convinced myself that you have picked up something of M33 too! Have a look. What do you think?
  2. Aurora possibility again

    Just popped outside and the sky is full of closely packed fast moving cumulus with a higher cirrus overcast. Aint no Aurorae going to be seen here tonight
  3. Aurora possibility again

    looks promising for the north of the UK: http://www.aurora-service.eu/aurora-forecast/
  4. Well my first scope was a Dixon's own brand 60mm refractor that I got for Christmas in '76 or was it '77? Anyway, by then I'd already read a lot of books (didn't even have a phone line back then, never mind t'internet) and knew what to expect. I think in that era it was usual to have knowledge and understanding far beyond the availability of scopes or the means to buy one. Now, in the age of information overload and a huge choice of affordable scopes it completely the opposite. So my advice would be research, research and research. If you are intending to remain a visual observer your requirements will be different to those if you were interested in imaging. The two aren't mutually exclusive but it's an area where first choice is important. The best advice would be to get something you are likely to use. Keep it simple and see if the bug bites before lumbering yourself with an expensive ornament.
  5. That's a nice, simple "grab and go" permanent pier! I'm heartened by your enthusiasm for this scope. A while ago it was my good friend's 60th birthday and his good lady asked me to recommend a nice telescope for him. She told me about how much he enjoys me showing him the night sky up at our rural Cumbrian get-away. Even so, he'd never looked through either of my scopes and I know it can be difficult for a newbie to develop the skills. So I recommended the SW 127 mak on the alt/az goto mount. Wish I'd recommended a Dob now. We've had a couple of sessions with it and he's really not taking to the setting up procedure. I'm hoping that this winter something will finally "click" and he'll be on his way. Either that or he says "here, you have it"!
  6. Oh no it isnt - Oh yes it is - Aurora Borealis - well is it?

    For what it's worth, I wouldn't have identified the presence of an Aurora in that photo. What I see is some distant cumulus clouds illuminated by moonlight, some general lunar sky glow and the orangey glow on the left looks atmospheric; a thin layer of cloud illuminated from below by urban light pollution. The Moon is quite bright as it's casting obvious shadows in the foreground..
  7. I won't be at the star party but as an outsider looking in ( so to speak) I do have some points on the inclusion of new attendees. I'm sure it's mostly about the age old " chicken and egg" syndrome. "The newbies were very quiet so we didn't want to bother them" kind of thing. As a boy I developed debilitating social anxiety. People mistook it for shyness. That's much of the reason that my two best friends were my dog and the night sky. I'm probably 80% over that now after a life of effort. But even now at 52 years, 11 months and 2 weeks old, I still have panics in certain situations. For example after 2 months I finally met our new next door neighbour this morning. I heard him on his drive behind me and I wanted to just disappear. Was I supposed to shake his hand? Introduce myself? Should I just get in my car and drive off even though I wasn't actually going anywhere? In less than 15 seconds I was filled with dread and was sweating profusely and I hadn't even turned to face him. That's why I never joined the local Astro Soc in my youth even though I'd phoned and enquired a number of times (a task in itself). No, I can't explain it either! So that "awkward" or withdrawn newbie (or old hand) at the next star party might actually be struggling with not only their equipment but with the apparently simple matter of meeting nice friendly people who share their passion. I'm sure I'm not the only weirdo that's attracted to a hobby that involves spending a lot of time alone!:) Just food for thought!! p.s. I did turn round and greet the new neighbour. Although the anxiety reflex is still very much there I can usually, but not always, overcome it
  8. Checkout Cassini on SkySafari

    Right, I'm having fun with Cassini and SkySafari. I've got it in orbit mode and time stepping at 10min interval per frame which produces a very nice animation of the close encounters and ultimate plunge. Unfortunately it doesn't look like there is anyway to generate a video file for sharing. Some of the PC based packages I've had over the years did allow that. Edit: here's a pretty screen shot of Cassini silhouetted against Saturn's rings. Ignoring the ultimate fate, what a journey that would be for a passenger!
  9. Checkout Cassini on SkySafari

    I'll play with that on my tablet later. Never knew it was doable. But anyway, I'm concerned about Cassini. Does it use SatNav? I mean look at that loop on August 27th. Missed Saturn by a million miles....
  10. Equinox

    I based my thoughts on the idea that at sunrise and sunset on the day of the equinox, an observer on the Equator is some degrees above or below the ecliptic plane and due to the local geometry of the horizon relative to the ecliptic plane the and Sun would appear offset from E & W as seen by the observer... I thinked. Doubting myself, I just set my location as 0 long, 0 lat in Stellarium and looked at sunset and sunrise on the dates of the Equinoxes and proved myself to be talking almost complete, well no, complete nonsense!
  11. Equinox

    I'll admit that now you have submitted a question I can get a handle on the answer is actually quite complex and not easily understood in terms of momentary observations from any given location. On the day of the Equinox the Sun will pass directly overhead for an observer on the Equator. But for them (depending on whether spring or autumnal equinox) the Sun will rise either north or south of due east and set (opposingly) south or north of due west. Can't align my brain cells to work out which way is which. My ability to run 3D models in my head after a 12 hour shift at work is diminishing! Very interesting question and requires some time playing with Stellarium!
  12. Equinox

    On the contrary, it would require a force to shift Earth axis in the way you are thinking in drawing no.2. The mass of the Earth is in a free-fall orbit around the Sun. There is no force nor any need for a force to keep Earth axis pointing almost directly at Polaris. It would require a huge force to act on the Earth to shift its axis annually as you suggest. Of course, as already discussed, there are a number of gravitational forces and interactions at work in the Earth/Moon/Sun system which introduce perturbations, processions and tidal friction etc. The effects of those are mostly quite small or happen over long timescales. The simple fact remains that centuries of observation and the laws of physics support the views of every respondent to this thread other than yours and I'm still struggling to work out your position or proposition.
  13. SADR - too far wiith red?

    Interesting subject. I've never given Sadr much thought but your image had me Googling. Quite an impressive star and only 12m years old!
  14. Equinox

    I've no idea where we are up to. So to find some common ground, do you agree that Earth's axis is always pointing towards Polaris, day and night, season after season? Of course there is some parallax to consider but so far as the apparent position of Polaris is concerned it's effectively zero. If Polaris was only as far away as your lounge ceiling then the effect I think you are alluding to would indeed be a factor.
  15. Best sky app

    For mobile devices, SkySafari takes some beating. I recently upgraded to 5 pro at full price (!), not because I needed the extra functionality of 4 pro that I already had, but because I wanted to support its continued development. I remember the sort of money I used to pay for much less functional astro packages for PC's back in the day. I hacked up an interface using a Raspberry Pi to allow me to control my EQ6 pro with my Android tablet using SkySafari via WiFi. It's so long since I usd it I can't remember how it works!