Archive for May 2013

It isn’t a bird, it isn’t a plane…

Posted by on May 27th 2013 in Astrostuff, My vids

I caught this thing on video while out shooting the Moon with my telescope this morning.

This clip is a 10fps cut from a 1-minute video, originally 60fps.
No post-processing apart from the addition of frame times and numbers in VirtualDub.

Telescope: 6" f/9 RC Astrograph - 152mm Aperture / 1370mm Focal Length.
Camera: DMK 21AU04.AS (Sony ICX098BL CCD chip 640 x 480 pixels @ 5.6 µm x 5.6 µm).
Calculated FOV: 6.7 x 9.0 arcmin.
FOV centre: Alt: 17 deg, Az: 178 deg, RA: 18h, Dec: -21 deg

I'm trying to work out if it's a satellite, a rock or just space-junk.

If I figure it out, I'll let you know.

Goin’ Daan Saaf

Posted by on May 25th 2013 in Great Escapes

See you later



You shall go to the ball

Posted by on May 24th 2013 in Just for fun

This is a Public Service Announcement...

Don't confuse these two currently-advertised campaigns:



Phew, that’s a relief!

Posted by on May 23rd 2013 in Just for fun

I tell you, those boffins at Tesco think of everything!



And to think that, until I saw the label, I'd been worried sick about having to drive home while holding the stuff in cupped hands.


Maths Test

Posted by on May 21st 2013 in Just for fun, My vids, Video (YouTube, Vimeo etc.)

Good with numbers? Try this for size:

Given that the video's angular field of view was 18' x 14' and that the original frame-rate was 60fps, estimate the speed of the photo-bombing bird and its distance from the camera.

Assume that the flight was parallel to the plane of the camera's sensor and that the bird's speed was constant during the fly-past.

You'll need to suss the size of the bird yourself, and that depends on what species of bird you reckon it was. The best-guesses (according to incoming emails) include Falcon, Gull and Pigeon.

Show your calculations.


Bird photo-bombing Sunday's sunspot shoot.

Observing Report 19th May 2013 (Sunday Sun)

Posted by on May 20th 2013 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics
Tags: ,

The old spots have moved around a bit, there's not much new stuff following on behind.

No close-ups this time  🙁

Sun (19/05/2013).
Six stitched images from the DMK mono camera on the C80ED-R, Baader Solar Film filter.

What SOHO (the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) saw.


Observing Reports various – April/May 2013 (A bunch of DSOs)

Posted by on May 18th 2013 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

A few images of things that I've been looking at over the last few weeks:


13th-14th May 2013:
M16 - The Eagle Nebula (aka NGC 6611 and the Star Queen Nebula), a young open cluster of stars in the constellation Serpens.


29th-30th April 2013:
The Crescent Nebula (aka NGC 6888, Caldwell 27, Sharpless 105), an emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus.


4th-5th May 2013:
M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (aka NGC 6705), an open cluster in the constellation Scutum.


29th-30th April 2013:
M107 (aka NGC 6171), a very loose globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus.


4th-5th May 2013:
M4 - The Cat's Eye Cluster (aka NGC 6121), a globular cluster in the constellation Scorpius.


4th-5th May 2013:
M108 - The Surfboard Galaxy (aka NGC 3556), an edge-on barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major.


Observing Report 16th May 2013 (More spots than a greasy teenager)

Posted by on May 17th 2013 in Astrostuff, Observing Reports, Pics

In contrast to today, yesterday morning was clear, warm and calm. The Sun was putting on a fine display of spots:

Sun (16/05/2013).
Six stitched images from the DMK mono camera on C80ED-R, Baader Solar Film filter.

What SOHO (the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) saw.

Active Region 1748 (16/05/2013).
DMK mono camera with 2.25x Barlow on C80ED-R, Baader Solar Film filter.

Active Region 1745 (16/05/2013).
DMK mono camera with 2.25x Barlow on C80ED-R, Baader Solar Film filter.

Active Regions 1742, 1743 and 1752 (16/05/2013).
DMK mono camera with 2.25x Barlow on C80ED-R, Baader Solar Film filter.

Active Region 1744 (16/05/2013).
DMK mono camera with 2.25x Barlow on C80ED-R, Baader Solar Film filter.

Active Regions 1746, 1747, 1750 and 1751 (16/05/2013).
DMK mono camera with 2.25x Barlow on C80ED-R, Baader Solar Film filter.

Active Regions 1741 and 1749 (16/05/2013).
DMK mono camera with 2.25x Barlow on C80ED-R, Baader Solar Film filter.


Review – Berghaus Faroe Softshell Jacket

Posted by on May 13th 2013 in My reviews, Shiny new kit

This item has been supplied on a "review-and-keep" basis by an agent representing Berghaus.

The jacket being reviewed is the Men's Faroe WINDSTOPPER® Softshell Jacket, the relevant Berghaus web-page is currently here, and here's a screenshot of that web-page:



This jacket was billed by Berghaus as "a perfect lightweight barrier for those cool, breezy, summer trails" and they claimed that "The WINDSTOPPER® Softshell fabric will stop wind chill in its tracks and the 4-waystretch AF softshell fabric allows you to stay mobile". Well, now I've had time to test the thing and to see how it stood up to expectations.

Let's start with the general fit. I'm a medium bloke, that's the size of jacket that I tested and yes, the jacket did fit. It's not a what you'd call a "technical" or a "sporty" fit, it's straight up-and-down and relies on stretch to go around my middle-age curves even when the only garment under it is a lightweight baselayer. Basically it's fine on the shoulders, chest, belly and waist but it's tight around the arse, making the hem draw-cord system redundant:



As you can see, the jacket's arms are long enough for the cuffs to stay put during extension and there's a bit of a back-end drop-tail that doesn't ride up more than an inch. The light-blue "4-waystretch AF softshell fabric" side/underarm panels are responsible for that, they stretch really well. There is a downside to that fabric but I'll come to that later. In short, wherever you put your arms, the rest of the jacket stays where it should be. Ideal for dodgy folk with dodgy armpits:



Now, let's look at some of the details. Pockets, zips, cuffs and that sort of thing. Here's a full-frontal:



What juicy bits can we see here?

  • A one-way front zip with an anti-snag strip and a puller-garage thing at the top end but no beard-guard. The zip's nice and smooth as you'd expect from YKK.
  • Hem draw-cords: Two off, single-handed, externally-adjustable.
  • Collar: Comfy when up, won't stay folded down. A snug fit around a 15" neck when fully zipped up: 


  • Cuffs: These are a bit cheap and naff. They're ever-so-slightly elasticated and there are no adjusters. This means that they're too slack (and hence not windproof) on the wrist but don't allow the sleeves to be pulled or rolled up over the forearm: 

    Cuff detail


     Too slack


     Too tight


  • The two pockets are zipped (again with smooth YKKs and puller-garage things at the top ends). The zips don't chafe wrists and the pockets are roomy and well-placed for casual hands-in-pockets walking (but a tad too low if you're carrying a pack with a hip-belt). With hands in pockets the "4-waystretch AF softshell fabric" side-panels stretch forwards to give some volume to the pocket area: 



    The pocket inners are mesh which means lightweight but also draughty when open. If you're using this jacket as a windproof and you're using the pockets to keep your hands out of the wind, you get a draught around the torso. That said, the mesh inners are sewn in on three sides so they form pockets that can be accessed internally. As you can see, they're plenty big enough for a folded OS map:



  • Those "4-waystretch AF softshell fabric" side/underarm panels... they both make and break this jacket. As I've stated, they allow a full range of arm-movement and they stretch forward to allow the pocket area to expand... but they're NOT windproof at all! Stand in a wind and you get cold armpits and more torso draughts. In short, they work wonders for achieving fit and flex, but they completely ruin the windproof potential of this garment:




Overall, the construction is sound - the fabric panels are overlocked and then stitched through, it's generally neat stitch-work and there were no dangly threads to snip off before use.

So, is it really a softshell? Well, no. It is soft but it isn't a shell. There's no working DWR and the main fabric (WINDSTOPPER® Softshell) is windproof but isn't showerproof. The "4-waystretch AF softshell fabric" is so permeable that it leaks air and water like a sieve. To be fair, if it had been promoted as a general lightweight summer jacket then I would have been OK with it.

Would it have been worth the £110 RRP? No, because it doesn't do what it says in the advertising blurb.

I suppose a lot depends on what you're used to. Rab make excellent softshells and Montane make excellent windproofs. This garment tries to compete but doesn't really cut the mustard in either category. Mind you, this jacket was part of the Berghaus Spring/Summer 2011 range. The 2013 range may well be a lot better - the Men’s Cadence WINDSTOPPER® Softshell Jacket seems to be the current equivalent (and a tenner cheaper) but for that outlay you could have the Men’s Pordoi Softshell Jacket with a hood and more (and better-placed) pockets, and which looks to be an altogether-better bit of kit.

Details of the current range of Berghaus softshell jackets can be found at

Anyway, I'll continue to use it and I'll try to like it. If my opinions change I'll let you know.


Posted by on May 5th 2013 in Just for fun, Making stuff













Calories: 1810 (cake mix) + 460 (4 x Curlywurly) + 480 (Sunflower Oil) = 2750.

My calorie RDA: ~2500.

I can't see the cake lasting until morning.

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