Archive for January 2008

Observing Report 27th-28th January 2008 (Stars and stuff)

Posted by on January 28th 2008 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports

I got the scope out again last night and had a couple of hours seeing what was about. The views were much better because I had collimated the OTA, after buying a second-hand Baader Laser Collimator from a helpful bloke on the SGL forum.

Mars was a clearer sight than before, but I'm still waiting for better (greater magnification) eyepieces in order to make out detail on the surface.

Next was the Orion Nebula (M42), a truly captivating sight which never fails to impress. Ella was gobsmacked by it when it was her turn at the eyepiece.

At her request, we turned the scope to look at The Pleiades (M45), which didn't fit into the field of view but showed many more stars than she expected.

Finally we had another look at Saturn. Elanor noted that more moons were visible compared to when we had observed three nights before.

Sorry, still no photos. The adaptor widget is on the way. The tracking motors should be here tomorrow.

Kate Flaying

Posted by on January 28th 2008 in Kites

Yesterday we had another fine breezy afternoon, so we went to the local park for another session flying the Imp. I'll let the pictures tell the story...

Elanor learning the ropes

It's up there somewhere

Going in under the radar

Taking the strain

Heads up!


Chris takes control


Beating a retreat

In support of a friend and a just cause.

Posted by on January 28th 2008 in Great Escapes, In the News, Wildcamping e-petition

Darren Christie, (AKA Weird Darren/WD/Whitespider1066) has started an online petition asking for the legalisation of wildcamping in England and Wales. For those that don't know the situation, wildcamping has been legal in Scotland for some time, but south of the border it's a civil offence (except on Dartmoor) unless you have the permission of the landowner.

So far the level of support for this cause has been good, with 191 signatories at last count and with lots of other people lending further support via their websites, blogs and forums, but we really need more folk to sign up and support us. Please help if you can, you can access the petition by clicking on the picture below:



If you want to access resources to help you come to a decision, here are a few links:

Whatever your decision and level of support, thank you for considering this cause.

Observing Report 24th-25th January 2008 (Mooning)

Posted by on January 25th 2008 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports

First time out for the new scope. It's not collimated yet (I'm waiting for the postie to deliver the required laser-gadget) so the view quality was never going to be good. Couple that with the fact that I've only got the one eyepiece until the new set is delivered, so I was restricted to just the one magnification (x50).

First off was a shufty at Mars. At x50 it's just a tiny flat orange disc so there was nothing to get excited about. It served as a handy target for practicing with the manual RA and Dec adjusters (leccy computerised set on order).

Next up was the Moon. It's just past full, so there was much detail on the terminator, where there were shadows which added depth to the view. Chris was really impressed when she eventually got a chance to have a look-see. I grabbed the D50 and took some hand-held snaps through the eyepiece. I really need to get a T-ring to fit the camera directly to the scope.



Finally, Saturn was visible to the left of the Moon, so I slewed around to that and got a decent view. Titan was obvious, and two other moons were just visible. Annabelle was still awake so I let her have a look, she was really wowed by the view. Her class is studying the planets, she's so chuffed now that she can tell all her classmates that she's really seen another planet and another moon! I took a few snaps but they're rubbish and don't show any moons, so I'll not post them here.

Phased out

Posted by on January 25th 2008 in Astrostuff, Blog on Blog, Rambling on...

A few of my blogging friends have added a moon phase module to their blogs, they're using the widget thing that's available at

Now, it looks fine and dandy when set to display for a Northern Hemispherian like me, it looks like this:

No problems there, that's what the moon looked like last night.

But clicky-clicky on the arrows to set the display for my antipodean cousins and you get...


Tell me it ain't so. Surely the terminator can't just change it's position just because the observer has moved from one hemisphere to the other.

The experts over at SGL concur that it should look like this:

All this space stuff. It's not rocket-science, is it?

Update 27/01/2008: Just visited the website again and the error's been fixed. Another indication of the power of the internet, eh?

My big black 8-incher

Posted by on January 23rd 2008 in Astrostuff, Shiny new kit

During the day, it hides in the wardrobe...

at night, it just wants to go out and have fun, see the sights, shoot the moon, that sort of thing...

I predict that we can look forward to a deep and meaningful relationship.



It's a Celestron Advanced C8-N, by the way. Here's the low-down:

General Details:

  • High quality 8" reflector
  • 9x50 finderscope with bi-directional alignment screws and a spring loaded pivot support
  • 2" focuser allows for use with 2" or 1.25" eyepieces
  • Slow motion controls for smooth tracking action
  • Heavy Duty (CG-5) German equatorial mount
  • Ultra sturdy 2" diameter steel tripod with accessory tray
  • Includes CD-ROM "The Sky" Astronomy Software which provides education about the sky and printable sky maps

Technical Information:

  • OPTICAL DESIGN: Reflector
  • APERTURE: 200 mm (7.87 in)
  • FOCAL LENGTH: 1000 mm (39.37 in)
  • MOUNT: CG-5 Equatorial
  • EYEPIECE 1: 20 mm (0.79 in)
  • TRIPOD: 2 (two) inch Stainless Steel
  • CD ROM: The Sky Level 1
  • RESOLUTION: 0.69 arc seconds
  • RESOLVING POWER: 0.58 arc seconds
  • LINEAR FIELD OF VIEW (@1000 YDS): 52.5 ft (16 m)
  • OPTICAL TUBE LENGTH: 37 in (939.8 mm)
  • TOTAL WEIGHT: 67 lb (30.39 kg)
  • TELESCOPE WEIGHT: Approx 19 lb (9 kg)

Normally priced up at around £375, they're currently on sale at £249 (inc. VAT and delivery) at various places, I got mine from Rother Valley Optics.


Posted by on January 22nd 2008 in Astrostuff, Just for fun, Pics

Took a few shots with the D50 + 70-300 lens tonight, the skies were wild with fast-moving broken low cloud, impressively backlit by the full moon, which looks flat without shadows.

First one: handheld stuff only, couldn't be bothered to race upstairs for the tripod. Full manual settings (300mm, f/5.6, 1/1250s, ISO 200), minimal tinkering with PS CS3.



Second one: mounted on the Velbon. Full manual settings (300mm, f/5.6, 1/1600s, ISO 200), minimal tinkering with PS CS3.



I'll take a few more next week, hopefully we'll see more depth and contrast as the shadows lengthen.


Posted by on January 10th 2008 in Just for fun


or possibly



Posted by on January 10th 2008 in Just for fun



Stupendous stuff!

Posted by on January 5th 2008 in Astrostuff, Thanks, Weather

Just to add insult to injury, the skies were clear and bright for long periods last night, acceptable for observing but, alas, my pass from SWMBO had expired.

Anyway, here's a big thanks to Stupendous Man for spreading the word about my interest in such matters.

Of course, there's no prize for guessing the true identity of Stupendous Man. Let's just say that it's not me.

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