Tuesday 2nd September, 2014

Observing Report 22nd-23rd August 2014 (Andromeda cover-story)

Posted by at 10:06 pm in Observing Reports.

I have a book which was a gift from Chris and the kids a few years ago, a fair while before I bought a decent telescope and started down the slippery slope of astro-kit buying.

I remember looking at the Andromeda Galaxy image on the back cover and thinking "I'll never be able to get images anywhere near as good as that":

 

Title: UNIVERSE
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd (6 Oct 2005)
ISBN-10: 1405310715
ISBN-13: 978-1405310710

 

Well...

 

Andromeda Galaxy (M31).
Subs: 35 light @ 300s, darks and bias frames, ISO800.
1000D on the C80ED-R refractor, guided with PHD.

I doubt that it's cover-worthy but I'm chuffed with it anyway.

Another night or two of imaging should provide enough additional data to allow me to reduce the noise and tease out more of the finer details.

Sunday 31st August, 2014

The kids made me do it

Posted by at 11:38 am in In the garden, Shiny new kit.
Tags:

After seeing Avatar they've acquired a liking for digital camo:

 

 

Instead of shelling out about £40 for a set of branded pre-cut vinyls I saved myself 90% by taking the cheaper option from eBay.

I doubt that the Woodpigeons and Grey Squirrels can see any improvement.

Thursday 21st August, 2014

Hang on, let me see that map again

Posted by at 11:17 am in Bargains, Rambling on....

Looks like Mr. Virgo's O-Level Geography classes were wasted on me:

 

 

Friday 27th June, 2014

Mad Bad Dad

Posted by at 4:41 pm in In the garden, Shiny new kit.
Tags:

When I was a kid I was never allowed anywhere near anything like this:

 

 

Now I'm 40 years older and getting into this "growing old disgracefully" malarkey, so I thought that I might as well give it a pop.

It's a tad more interesting than reading all of that Saga Holiday junkmail :-)

Here's the business-end:

 

 

Shooting with the fibre-optic irons is OK but I'm hoping that a suitable scope will be forthcoming on my birthday. After all, I've dropped enough subtle hints.

FWIW

Thursday 26th June, 2014

Some like it hot

Posted by at 1:17 am in In the garden, Making stuff.
Tags:

During the spring of 2013 we erected our "see if we get on with it" cheap polytunnel and we had a reasonable crop from it.

The only worry was durability - the frame was solid enough but the cover's stitch-work left a lot to be desired, and one of the window-flap's zips had gone a knacker within a couple of weeks.

Sure enough, it didn't survive to see this spring. One windy day in December totalled the thing within an hour:

 

 

We needed something better. We considered traditional framed jobbies but rejected them on the grounds of vulnerability - I didn't fancy the prospect of having to replace glass or plastic panes after they'd been speared by twigs and branches from the nearby Salix babylonica. Proper polytunnels were considered but the site is unsuitable for trenching-in the edges of the single polythene sheet covering.

In the end, after much "back-of-a-fag-packet" doodling, we settled on a hybrid design of five separate timber-frame panels covered with polytunnel-grade sheeting. Any one of the five panels can be removed for repair, and we can slip in simple extension panels if SWMBO decides that 3m x 2m isn't enough - the roof panel is oversize so we could go up to 3.5m x 2m if instructed. FWIW, I'm not planning to extend the height - IMO 2.2m at the lowest point is quite enough.

It took me and Chris (our helpful over-the-road neighbour) about a week to cut and creosote the timber and fabricate the frames, and another week to cover, staple and tape them. After that, the final assembly was a doddle.

It's been up and running for a couple of weeks now, the only thing still on the to do list is the guttering/downpipe/water-butt system. We've already got a list of possible future improvements (decking, trickle-watering, polycarb roofing) but that lot can wait until after the running-in period has exposed any unforeseen flaws.

It won't win any prizes for elegance but functionally it's excellent and maintenance should be a breeze.

You'll be wanting some pics, I suppose?

 

 

 

 

 

Now I suppose I'll have to sort out the rest of the garden :-(

Oh, and just in case you were wondering about costs...

  • 3x2 timber for frames ~£100
  • Misc. timber for windows etc. ~£20
  • Decking screws ~£10
  • Polythene sheeting ~£50 (enough in reserve for a full panel re-cover)
  • Mesh for windows ~£10
  • Tape for edges  ~£15 (plenty in reserve for minor repairs)
  • Misc. fittings ~£20
  • Auto-vent gadget ~£20
  • Guttering, staples, screws, door-bolt and a neat wooden monogram plaque - donated by Chris
  • Help from Chris - free and invaluable, I can't thank him enough

Thursday 19th June, 2014

Not so Smug now, eh?

Posted by at 5:35 pm in Astrostuff, Photo hosting, Pics, Site update.

It's taken me 127 days to de-SmugMug this blog, but it's been worth it.

Maybe now I can get back to some serious blogging.

Or maybe some not-so-serious blogging.

 

Source

Thursday 12th June, 2014

Cat-nap

Posted by at 2:39 pm in Rambling on....
Tags: ,

Well, it's taken a few days, but here's proof that he does, occasionally, sleep:

 

 

I'll wager that in less than 15 minutes he'll be recharged and ready for another six hours of mayhem.

Tuesday 10th June, 2014

Here we go again…

Posted by at 4:35 pm in Rambling on....
Tags: ,

Ever since we lost Bob last spring, Elvy has been a single cat. She's enjoyed undivided attention and a clear run of the house, and she has become a fine affectionate friend.

This weekend, however, saw a small addition to the household. Elvy's not too chuffed about it.

 

 

 

 

We named her Rosie - both me and the seller agreed that it was a Queen, there being no signs of the tell-tale Tom bits...

but one of those bits dropped during the night and the next day the vet proclaimed that she is a late-dropping he.

So now we've named him Loki, after the the Asgardian God of Mischief.

So far, it's been a quite appropriate name.

Sunday 4th May, 2014

Hotwiring the fragment-links and superceding the binary— binary— binary— binary— binary— binary— …

Posted by at 11:06 am in Photo hosting, Pics, Site update.

If only I could do that, the task of editing all of the blog's image, image-link and mouseover URLs (to reflect the changes associated with migrating all of my pics out of the failing SmugMug and into WordPress) would probably be a doddle. As it is, it's a tedious manual-edit jobbie that's taking me ages.

Two months in and I'm still not a quarter of the way there. It didn't help that a fortnight ago WordPress updated to version 3.9 and the thing fell apart because of the limitations of the bundled "upgraded" TinyMCE visual editor which had been gelded of various features that I need to do the editing. The techies at BlueHost did a restore from a their monthly backup to get me back onto WP3.8.3 with the previous TinyMCE... that put me back in control, but it undid a month of editing and scrubbed a month of uploads.

So, expect this place to be a mess while the transfer is in progress. I reckon I have about 6,000 URL edits still to do, so it's going to take a long time.

FWIW, I did try reversing the polarity of the neutron flow but that had no beneficial effects. The sonic screwdriver...

is helping a bit.

Maybe I need a Doctor.

Sunday 30th March, 2014

Every Which Way but Luss

Posted by at 1:19 pm in Campaigns and Petitions, Pics.

Here's a reminder that voting for the Woodland Trust "Transform the Trossachs" project closes tomorrow (Monday).

If you want to support this project you can find more details here.

The good news is that it looks like they've already started the transformation, with a little help from Photoshop: 

 

 

 See how easy it was?

Right turn: Clyde.

:-)

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