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About TakMan

  • Rank
    Proto Star
  • Birthday 02/04/1971

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Interests
    Design, Photography, Foreign Travel, walking.

    Motor Racing - used to be the coordinator for the BRSCC Fiat Racing Challenge.

    Trick/Stunt kiting (Benson 'Gemini')

    Console Gaming (mostly PS4 - Project Cars (Fanatec CSW-V2 etc) and XBOX360) plus a retro collection: Neo•Geo AES, Vectrex, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, XBOX, Jaguar, Virtual Boy, N64(US), Gamecube(US), Wii, etc

    Helping to run the Rosliston Astronomy Group and 'astro' of course in any spare time!
  • Location
    Midlands 52° N
  1. Six months has flown by…. Time to collect the solar graph we ‘planted’… Yes, a few days early to be collecting, but today is my last one in the office and I wasn’t thinking of doing a 124 mile round trip to collect from Leominster on the shortest day! What a lovely start to the day, a slippy stile and muddy walk! My first attempt at this location (Summer > Winter 2016) had been damaged – probably due to the shiny ‘foil’ pinhole being pecked out by an interested magpie! 2x previous photos of new solar graph in situ…(Above and below) The site from Google Maps: Kimbolton Church (Nr. Leominster) is in the centre. The solar graph is sited in that first tree-line (towards 10/11 o’clock), looking back to the church – thought it would make a nice view/foreground… This time, we had forgone the foil (you pin-prick it to get a fine hole and therefore sharper image recorded) and instead drilled (No 1 drill bit), straight into the tin. No bird was going to get through that!! Would this one fair better…? This was it’s rough view as seen this morning upon collection at 8.45am…. First impressions were good… the baked bean can pinhole camera looked to have survived it’s six months and was in remarkably good condition with hardly any rust – sheltered under the trees. Back at the office, second impressions were of a unremarkable small image and some image shift (double exposure)…. look how the church is double exposed on the original below…. ;-( I don’t think it was ‘vandalised’ if it had, it would have been ripped out and strewn across the hedgerow… ‘Mother Nature’…. perhaps…? More likely a horse or sheep rubbing up against the stake (or wire fence) – although I did try and protect it somewhat… (Above: Initial scan – 900DPI, Colour-Millions, mirror reversed on the horizontal plane, cropped). If this hasn’t worked, that’s 18 months from the first try (summer>winter 2016) – I didn’t have another pinhole camera prepared after the first go to put imediately back in place, so waited until this summer solstice in 2017 to try again. Again, I didn’t have another prepared to start again this morning either, so another camera would have to wait until summer 2018…. But…. With a little Photoshop magic, it’s amazing what can be achieved! Phew 😉 So, KIMBOLTON CHURCH SOLARGRAPH Summer > Winter 2017 Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! Damian
  2. 7.30pm at the Forestry Centre…. but we’ll get going whenever our Chair, Andy turns up (so 7.45 – 8.00 hopefully) ! Plenty of Food, Raffle, good company…. and a fun quiz – a great way to round off another RAG year ! All proceeds to the Club Observatory Fund. **LIMITED SPACES** - please contact us to reserve a place and for more details (food, etc) Piccies and Clips from last year: http://roslistonastronomy.uk/rosliston-astronomy-group-christmas-quiz-and-meal-9122016 Damian
  3. Wow - a Bank Holiday and sunshine! The wife was pleased - we'd only just got back from a short break in South Wales, so all the washing was done with the house solar panels kicking out the kWs and now it was all out on the line drying awaiting my super ironing skills! I invited my observing buddy Andy around too, he came with his own Quark Chromo plus his SkyWatcher Equinox 80 and new to him Manfrotto tripod with video head. I like this a lot – far better than his Altair Astro Sabre mount. Ice creams, food and drink, sun and warmth, good company... this solar malarkey is rather good fun! So, third time out for the Quark and new sketching tools.... This time the Pentel 0.7mm Graphgear 1000 mechanical pencil was equipped with the new 'Pilot Color Eno Neox' red leads that had come all the way from Japan (via Amazon!) I gave Andy my second Graphgear pencil, but with the *orange Neox leads so he could try sketching (in reverse) as well. I like the mechanical pencil - it's got a nice grip, retains it's balance and you don't need to stop to keep sharpening the point! I like the way this device has an extended metal tube to hold the lead and the way it retracts for safe storage. *Coloured mechanical pencil leads: When I started this experiment I chose Pentel red leads first as reviews stated they were less susceptible to snapping than the Staedtler 'Mars Micro range'. They were also reasonably priced, so 'worth a chance' to see if they would 'work' on black paper (that the scanner could pick it up and I could see enough to work with when actually outside). The Pentel's were... OK, but I found them rather hard and 'scratchy'. This did give a nice filamentary effect to prominence sketches, but were quite hard work to get some coverage down onto the paper and took a bit too much processing in Photoshop afterwards to get the look I was after. The internet search continued... to the Pilot Color Eno Neox - there is a cheaper 'non Neox' version I understand. These get good reviews in artistic circles. Soft but not too brittle, plenty of pigment, easy to rub out... more expensive! A purchase on Amazon and a wait for delivery.... I disappointingly found that the orange lead colour appeared more white on the cheaper black (dark grey) paper I was already using with the Pentel leads. In office scanner tests there was still enough of a colour to select in Photoshop for tuning later. Next purchase was a better black card stock. Thicker card, more 'tooth' to pick up the pigment in the leads and darker to aid colour contrast. 'Canson' black card stock (Amazon yet again). It has a decent weight (240g/m2), is much 'blacker' than the cheaper paper I had been using (helps the scan afterwards as well as giving more contrast when sketching), plus takes rubbing out without leaving marks on the surface. I still feel that perhaps the grain is too much, so will continue my search for an even smoother stock. This though was an improvement, but decided that the red leads would be even better. So another purchase and wait! Photo: Samsung Galaxy S7 through 32mm TV Plossl Same, with iPhone 6 Well, it still doesn't appear a rich red (like you see in Ha observing) when sketching onto black, but it's easy to see when actually sketching out under the sun. It's also much easier to scan and then tease into what I want the final image to be, without having to push/force things in Photoshop. The orange leads could even be used for night time sketching as it would be easy to desaturate any remaining colour back to white. The leads are easy to work - plenty of colour/coverage is easy to put down with minimum effort. I've not had one snap as yet either. They are easy to rub out without damaging the paper, soft so can be manipulated/smudged for subtle effects - would be good for galaxies/nebula.... but being soft, will run down quickly.... they remind me of my old (and favourite) Caran d’Ache pencils from art college. The other purchase that arrived for this observing session was the photo studio flash umbrella from eBay for £6 that had been mentioned previously. I had intended to fix with a goose neck device, but found that a bulldog clip did the job just as well. This is much lighter than the felt like fabric I've used at night (which gets damp...) It does let a small amount of light through, but being silver backed, doesn't get overly hot. I found that using my sun hat pushes out the loose fabric of the umbrella - giving me room to work/sketch - a 'result'! Now you see me... Now you don't! Since the last time out, I've added black felt (Wilkos stuff that I'd used to flock my 10" dob), to my homemade solar shield and just need to face it now with white card to strengthen it. It does warp slightly under it's own weight and probably the heat of the sun, so laminating some white card should help with the strength and reflect some heat, we'll see... Another good three hours then under the sun. Some nice proms and a sunspot to entertain us. The Quarks performed superbly yet again. Under the right conditions I think both the new 25mm TV Plossl and the second hand 20mm Pentax XW will be of use from what I saw on Monday. Sketches from the day - I think I'm homing in finally on my own style. Not quite there yet (think it's the background that's putting me off). My own representation then of what I saw - never going to be exact like a photograph, but a record of the event... with some fiery oomph thrown in! Sketches not reversed. Above prom seen at around 7pm on the GONG image below. Below sketch of prom seen at roughly 10pm on the GONG image below. Copyright: GONG/NSO/AURA/NSF. Clear skies, Damian
  4. 20mm Pentax XW eyepiece (SOLD!)

    PM'd you... ;-) D
  5. Nothing wrong with them sketches - I particularly like your representation of the prominences in that lower left image. The softer (traditional graphite) lead has given a nice subtle transition to their intensities and structure. The Quark excels at high resolution views of course, but it would be nice to see the full face of the sun as well (not sure I can smuggle yet another scope past the wife though for that purpose!) That's a good representation in the upper image, showing the scale of filaments and the like (gives the prominence observations some context, which I can't portray). The harder coloured leads are naturally more 'scratchy' - which inadvertently gives a good impression of the filamentary structure of prominences - I think you'd call that 'artistic license'! That is 'intensified' by the inversion in PS, that gives that overall 'luminescence' to the final drawings - giving them some fiery oomph (in the process hiding my lost artistic skills - now I spend most of my time in meetings and production... yawn, rather than anything... 'creative'! We use graphics tablets at work for anything Photoshop related, so it is something of a novelty to use a real pencil now and again ;-) ).
  6. If it was, I would need plenty of cardboard extension adapters - at least they are considerably cheaper than the Tak metal variety! Thanks Michael, it's taken long enough to put together. When (if) the tracking unit for the mount ever arrives from the States, we will be properly set up to enjoy sketching and dabble in the odd imaging with the DMK cameras... Thanks guys! Yes, coloured leads were a surprise to us at work (in house graphics), although we did used to fill up Rotring pens at art college with white gouache, so it shouldn't have come as a huge surprise really! Staedtler do a red - Mars Micro range - I suppose we should have got them for the 'Mars' in the title, can't remember now why we chose the Pentel version instead - perhaps softer or more pigment... or that reviews said the Pentel's were less prone to snapping. Still these leads are quite hard, so I need to pop into my local art shop and find a new sketch pad with a paper stock that 'works'. You can (just) sketch onto black paper with them, which is what I would do with white pencil crayon. The scanner does pick it up, but the effect isn't as good as the method I tried here. It is also more difficult to see when out with the scope than just experimenting indoors! The new lead I am awaiting is the Pilot Color Eno Neox - there is a cheaper 'non Neox' version, but we decided to try the stronger pigment variety. These are (should be), softer with more pigment and get good reviews in artistic circles. They are also of course more expensive and coming (from Amazon)..... from Japan! Another clever solution we thought we'd come up with is to use the complimentary colour of red (lead) - we tried blues and greens, but converting in PS still didn't give better results.... just in case you thought of trying that! Damian
  7. Sunday afternoon's weather was better than expected, so I decided to give the Quark its second run out... Thought it was a good chance to run it from my RavPower LiPoly battery pack that I use to power the Nexus WiFi device and occasionally the iPad running SkySafari (rather than the mains adapter). Useful to know for when mains isn't available when doing outreach and the like. My mate finds that one of his packs turns off periodically - when the Quark has heated up and then stops drawing power... note also new, matching 'red/black' micro USB cable (a single pound from Amazon... all the way from China!) As well as the 32mm Plossl used before, I'd acquired a S/H 40mm Televue (awaiting the 25mm) off eBay, so it was a chance to try out that as well. Rather than using white pencil on black paper as previous, I'd been thinking of other methods - so this time I was going to experiment with a new Pentel 0.7mm Graphgear 1000 mechanical pencil with red leads onto white paper. Pleased to find that the battery doesn't auto switch-off and over the 2 hours of observing didn't even drop a quarter of its power (according to the four little blue lights). The 40mm is useful for when the conditions don't allow for the 32's extra magnification (although the eye relief is way too much - I'm going to get some of them TV eye extenders I think). Actually ordered three today (Monday from The Widescreen Centre), already - another £29 a pop! It's amazing the difference my black (night time observing), cloth increases the view (contrast), but it is a little too heavy and warm... and not really big enough under the sun to do its thing, so I took a chance and purchased one of those photo studio flash umbrellas from eBay for £6, that was mentioned in a thread a few weeks ago. I have a plan to attach it to the sun shield... or something ! Update: that also arrived today (3rd July), I'm thinking of using a 'gooseneck' like I do with the iPad to hold it in roughly the right place. I think that will work better than on the sun shield or just loose on my head! Sketches from the day. Inverted in Photoshop. I'm liking the red pencil leads (there is quite a nice luminescence to the sketch now), although they are slightly hard. I've got some hopefully softer leads on the way and will probably change paper stock as well. Copyright: GONG/NSO/AURA/NSF. GONG image included for comparison. My sketches above not inverted but you can match up easily the 'second' and 'fifth' sketches to those on the upper left and right of the GONG image. When I was drawing the 'fifth' one around 5.15, I thought it reminded me of a fishing fly... it still does here! The Quark behaved admirably yet again and seems a good match to the TSA, showing superb prominence structure and plenty of surface features (despite the lack of them yesterday!) Clear skies, Damian
  8. Quark Chromosphere Test and First Light

    Thanks guys for the welcome... to the 'Light Side' and the info re: eyepieces. Indeed, we both commented on Saturday that 'Solar' is far more of a social affair... Clear skies, Damian
  9. If you've got a mint/very good condition one for sale with its original end caps, please PM me - cash waiting (UK only) . Don't mind the odd micro-scratch on the silver barrel or the usual odd bit of fluff stuck on the eyecups, but that's a far as my OCD will allow ! Would like the original box, instructions and silver sticker as well, but not a deal breaker. Otherwise it'll be a wait for the next Telescope House 10% sale ;-) Thanks in advance, Damian
  10. Have been umming and ahing for months (years!) over one of these Hydrogen Alpha ‘eyepieces’ since seeing and being amazed at the view through one when we went to the The International Astronomy Show… My night time observing buddy has been saying I should get one as well for ages…. but I was put off by the increasing price (they’ve gone from £650 at launch to over a grand now) and the reports of quality control issues and the response from the manufacturers to sort the problems… So, when one came up on AB&S just over a week ago, including a 32mm Televue Plossl eyepiece I decided to take the plunge (despite the decent price giving me slight worries that something may be amiss). I’d made contact with the seller in the week, exchanged contact details and all appeared OK – he sounded like a decent chap. He duly delivered it by hand on the Friday evening and we spent an hour having an ‘astro’ chat over a cuppa! It seems that he just could "not get on with the Quark" (perhaps he thought it wasn't a 'good' one, hence the inclusion of the eyepiece..?) In hindsight, I wonder if the actual issue was his scope - a Celestron 102ST, or more likely the focuser not being 'true'. It wouldn't take much droop for the incoming light to loose its parallelism and make the Quark go off-band...? Anyway, surprise, surprise the wife was away over the weekend AND Saturday was clear – perhaps ‘new equipment syndrome’ doesn’t affect solar gear!? Looking at the various ‘Solar Imaging/Observing’ threads on the forums you get better views first or last thing in the day… by the time though I’d done my chores, finished the Club’s Solargraphs and set the scope up, it was lunchtime (I’d even got up early just so I could make a new sun-shield for the scope – where does the time go?!) With some trepidation I placed the Quark in the 2″ Televue Everbright diagonal (fitted with a 2″ extension tube sitting inside the focuser end and a Baader 2″ UV/IR cut filter) and waited for the Quark to come up to temperature before taking a peak… No full disk solar views here (as expected – done the homework you see)! With the Quark’s inbuilt Barlow, the 816mm f/8 Takahashi TSA-102s is effectively running at F/32 and 3264mm focal length (Daystar recommend between f/27-32 for the best performance). The Televue 32mm Plossl included in the sale giving a hefty 102x mag. Thankfully the Quark appears to be a good one with a fairly tight bandpass (Angstrom). No apparent ‘sweet spot’ – just an evenly illuminated and focused view across the field, no ‘banding’ either… loads of surface detail – boiling in and out of focus. The Quark came initially from The Widescreen Centre who had stuck a note to the box: “Dimmer image, good prominence views and EXCELLENT surface details. Would be good for imaging with CCD.” Once that was out of the way I took a picture with the iPhone6 held up to the eyepiece (which I’ve always found REALLY difficult to do), to send to my mate (who was coming over for an afternoon of solar observing/imaging with his Equinox 80 and Quark). Then we enjoyed a good few hours observing, trying out some different eyepieces (Andy’s 17mm Vixen is too much for my set-up at 192x), experimenting with our DMK cameras and I got the sketch pad out as well. Very pleased with the purchase and I think that really does complete the astro purchases…well the ‘big’ ones anyway… Already purchased this morning a S/H 40mm Televue Plossl for a less magnified view when conditions don’t allow more (81x) and now looking for a 25mm TV Plossl (130x) to complete the solar set-up! Even better, it gives the old Tak refractor a new purpose after it had become somewhat redundant after importing the TEC140 ED APO. It becomes the ‘solar scope’ with the Quark for Ha and white light views with the Baader Cool Ceramic Herschel Wedge. Damian Prominence – only a single frame from a (second hand) old ‘Firewire’ DMK41 (it’s first light as well), captured at 2.41pm – the same one as that drawn first at 2pm above. Controlled via OACapture on my 2016/17 MacBook Pro. 'Controlled' in the loosest of terms(!)', no idea what I was really doing with webcam imaging and trying to MANUALLY guide the mount at f/32... perhaps one day I'll get the hand tracking control unit from the States that was promised 2+ years ago....
  11. Out on a 6Hr 'Hunting the Northern Lights' trip with GLØD Explorer, 60 or so Km away from our base in Alta. Not as cold as we were expecting - or as much snow (which meant less cloudy skies). Also coincided with a G1/G2 magnetic storm hitting the Earth that increased the activity - very lucky! Witnessed around 10 auroral displays over the 4 days we were up in the Arctic Circle, 3 of which were magnificent! Got a lot of shots to go through and will perhaps make up some presentation for my local astronomy group.... We started out from Alta with thick cloud (and light snow falling). Our guide Sara drove south in the 4x4 and eventually we found some clearing skies. A hint of the aurora followed (so I took some constellation shots whilst waiting for the sky to clear). The aurora did put on a weak display that slowly grew stonger. Once it had started to fade we headed back.... within 5 minutes of doing so we could see activity rising - Sara pulled the mini bus over, we all jumped out (cameras still attached to tripods thankfully) and were just in time to catch this mesmerising 10 minute display (the shot below is from near the start! In this wide field image you can find the Hyades, Pleiades, Open Cluster - Melotte 20 in Perseus (above centre), to the right of that the Double Cluster and below that and a little to the right (obscured by the aurora somewhat) M31, The Andromeda Galaxy plus the Milky Way sticking out from the right edge of the aurora to the edge of the frame... The bright-ish star a third of the way along from the upper left is Capella in Auriga - a quick scan around that region yields the three open clusters. If you follow them out towards the left of the frame.... that faint smudge is M35 at the foot of Gemini! Manfrotto tripod mounted with hydrostatic ball head (trusty 8 year old, full frame 12Mp) Nikon D3 and the superb Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 14mm. Perhaps time for the upgrade before the next trip - D810 currently the top choice.... This gives a field of view of approx: 114° - 84°, so at the angle I'm shooting at, this shot reaches up to near zenith. ISO 800, 15 sec, Mirror up function with cable release. NEF RAW file (lightly) processed in Adobe LightRoom. Damian
  12. Change of Venue: Now at the home of Burton Albion FC The Tom Bradbury Lounge Pirelli Stadium, Princess Way, Burton-on-Trent. DE13 0BH
  13. Lost the close of the transit due to encroaching cloud (after a fantastic day of public outreach with a selection of scopes with White Light, Quark Chromo, Herschel Wedge, PST)... Looked up around 6.40 and saw this instead - a Cirumzenithal arc! Mercury - Nikon D3, TSA102s, 2x TV Powermate, Baader Herschel Wedge & Continuum Filter. Nova Hitch Mount Alt/az. Single RAW file processed in Lightroom Vertical panorama with the iPhone6.
  14. 'Proving Einstein Right' Professor Ian Morison Emeritus Gresham Professor of Astronomy, University of Manchester We have a special 'observatory fundraising event' in June at the Hilton, St George's Park - the FA's National Football Centre. Damian RAG A4 Poster_Prof Ian Morison V2.pdf
  15. Went out solely to hook everything up for the Mercury Transit - we have a public outreach event on the day! So a great opportunity to simplify the kit and to make sure that eyepieces and camera would reach focus on the day.... Write-up for my local group. Damian The Sun - solar report-23rd April 2016.pdf