Archive for March 2013

Observing Report 29th March 2013 (A quick and dirty Pan-STARRS)

Posted by on March 30th 2013 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports

Managed a few binocular glimpses of Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) between the clouds last night, then I got to wondering if it was sufficiently north and high for me to be able to train the obsy-based telescope on it.

After a bit of a faff moving the roof a good foot further along than usual, and then removing the screen that keeps out the glare from the retirement-home up the road, the only obstruction was the neighbour's Japanese Maple. I couldn't cut it down and it wouldn't bend out of the way so I decided to just pretend it wasn't there and take the shots through it anyway. After all, if this hobby was easy, everybody would be doing it!

Despite the tree, the light-pollution haze near the horizon, the comet's low altitude, the glare from several 500W halogen burglar-helpers and a mere 15-minute window of opportunity when the comet was visible between houses, the result's not so bad after all:

Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4).
Subs: 6 light @ 60s, darks, no bias frames, ISO800.
1000D on the 6" R-C, unguided

Seasonal growth (updated)

Posted by on March 28th 2013 in Rambling on...

There's a growing "in yer face" problem here. It's the Bearded Git's beard.

Let me explain...

In the course of a normal year I cut it short in the spring, keep it in check during the summer, leave it a bit longer during the autumn and let it wander wild and free during the winter to provide natural protection and insulation when up on the snowy fells. After all, it's a functional beard, none of yer designer-stubble rubbish. The aforementioned spring cull is undertaken only when I'm fairly certain that the last of the extreme wintry weather has ended. That's usually sometime during late February.

This winter's weather, as you know, is showing no signs of abating. As a consequence, now that we're almost in April, the chin-thatch is becoming a tad unruly. Indeed, there's now more on my face than there is on my head. It's taken to snagging itself in zips, stealing my food and catching fire whenever I spark up a smoke. I think it has developed a life of its own:

See what I mean?

And so there's a dilemma. To leave it long for a few more weeks just in case we get after-Easter snow, or to crop it and be damned/cold.

If I mow it, the current cold weather will continue. If I leave it be, the summer will be upon us faster than you can say "Factor 5000".

Perhaps a graft would be a better idea.


UPDATE 31st March 2013

This just in from Chris, another beardy bloke who lives over the road:

Thanks a bunch, Chris.

Ah… no problem, monkey-socks

Posted by on March 27th 2013 in Bargains, In the garden, Pics, Testing for review

As this is the 1000th post, I thought a few random recent pics would be appropriate.

I like random. Specific can be a tad boring.

After nearly 40 years of not making pies, it seems that I still have the knack.

This critter often visits but rarely stops. I think it's a Sparrowhawk, what say you?

Icicles on the observatory.

Soft-shell jacket in for review, courtesy of Berghaus.

Nearly-new used bargain: EQ3-2 mount complete with polar-scope and dual-axis tracking motor kit.
New price ~£300, acquired for a shade over £50.

What the WP dashboard widget is telling me.

Match postponed. Home Win.

Posted by on March 22nd 2013 in Great Escapes, Testing for review, Weather, Wildcamping

This was to be the weekend when I introduced Ella to the delights of wildcamping. We'd been looking forward to spending a couple of relaxing nights somewhere high and remote in the Far Eastern Fells, but the weather's banjaxed that idea:



It's taken several years to get her reasonably comfortable with the prospect of crapping in a hole dug in the middle of nowhere, but the added complication of having to dig away three feet of snow beforehand and then do the biz during a blizzard would probably be too much.

We'd intended to use the Vango Banshee 300 as it still needs to reviewed after being used in anger on the fells, but I think we would have needed the F10 Spindrift in the conditions that have been predicted. The Spindrift in full hoolie garb is twice the weight of the Banshee, add to that the extra insulation and winter metalwork demanded by the conditions and it's clear that the pack-weights would have been too much for her.

Then there's the irony factor - this very afternoon I received another item of kit to test/review... a softshell jacket that's "a perfect lightweight barrier for those cool, breezy, summer trails". That would have been perfect exactly a year ago when the temperatures were over 20 Celsius higher in the Lake District, but this weekend's episode of global... erm... warming demands down jackets rather than WINDSTOPPER® softies.

There's one more window of opportunity about two weeks hence. Fingers crossed!

Price Fail

Posted by on March 20th 2013 in Astrostuff, LMAO!

I have an Inner Stickler. Poor spelling, punctuation and grammar really irk me.

Many folk tell me to lighten up, saying that accurate spelling is no longer important and that it's the meaning of the words that really matters...


eBay item number 181102927230


I rest my case.

No peace for the wicked

Posted by on March 17th 2013 in My vids, Rambling on...

So there I was, sitting in a car-park in town after dropping-off one daughter to meet the other for some united retail therapy. While waiting for them to return I was enjoying a rare moment of peace and quiet until this little fecker decided to shatter the peace and take umbrage at me and my car. It didn't hassle anybody else and I've no idea what I'd done to upset it but it was barking like mad while chucking nutshells and bits of stick at me and the car. It wouldn't shut up or leave me alone until I'd recorded its noisy antics on the phone and then played it back at max volume:



I'll have the little sod next time - I'll take my catty and some ball-bearings and then we'll see who's the boss. He'll go well in a game casserole  🙂 

Observing Report 13th March 2013 Part 2 (Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4))

Posted by on March 16th 2013 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports

As promised, some more pics from Wednesday evening's Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) observing session:

Moon and Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), 13th March 2013.
Nikon D50, 35mm prime lens, 0.8s @ f/2, ISO 200, static tripod.

Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), 13th March 2013.
Nikon D50, 70-300 lens @ 300mm, 5s @ f/7.1, ISO 800, static tripod.

Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), 13th March 2013.
Nikon D50, 70-300 lens @ 300mm, 10s @ f/7.1, ISO 800, static tripod.

Moon with Earthshine, 13th March 2013.
Nikon D50, 70-300 lens @ 300mm, 1s @ f/7.1, ISO 800, static tripod.

We're hoping to bag some more pics sometime during the next few evenings if the weather decides to play along.

Observing Report 13th March 2013 (Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4))

Posted by on March 14th 2013 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports

I managed to get away for a couple of hours around sundown last night, it was the first clear(ish) evening for a while and the first chance we'd had to have a look at Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4). Finding it was an interesting experience - too soon after sunset and the skies were still too light, and later when the skies had darkened the comet was so close to the horizon that it stood a chance of being lost in the murk of haze, cloud and light-pollution.

Persistence was the key. Eventually the bank of low snow-cloud moved away and revealed the target. It's not visible with the naked-eye yet during these conditions but it's an impressive sight through 10x50 binoculars. The 70-300 lens on the D50 picked it out quite easily.

Here's one of many pics from the evening, I'll post a few more later:

Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4).
Nikon D50, 70-300 lens @ 300mm, 5s @ f/7.1, ISO 800, static tripod.

Feed me!

Posted by on March 14th 2013 in In the News

Hmm... Google is to retire Reader and a handful of other useful services.

That'll fcuk-up a few bloggers and smartphone users, I'll warrant.

Helping Auntie

Posted by on March 10th 2013 in On the box

Here you go - a basic visual aid for the Beeb's Six Nations commentary and pundit team, specifically for Lorenzo Bruno Nero Dallaglio:

 "If you're having trouble, here's a little trick to help you remember... they're different words.
You see - they contain different letters which are pronounced differently!
Different words!"


Especially for someone that's half-Italian.

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