Archive for February, 2013

Simon Parkin and the Meridian Weather film team – together with satellite transmission van – did a live broadcast from the New Forest Observatory on 15/02/2013, the evening of the near miss flyby of the asteroid.  Here are a couple of stills from just before the live transmission.

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I have long sided with Halton Arp regarding quasars.  Like Halton Arp I also believe that quasars are not undefinable objects at extreme distances radiating unimaginable power – but are objects much closer to us who exhibit an odd redshift behaviour – odd only if you don’t understand the mechanism creating the redshift of course.

This subject has intrigued me for years, not least because I have a great affinity for the supposed “maverick” who thinks outside the box and as a consequence puts the stuffed-shirt establishment’s nose completely out of joint.  The establishment reacts of course in the most mature way it can muster by blackballing and isolating the maverick.  So I recently did a search to see the current state of play on this topic.

You can imagine my surprise when I came across some work showing that there are quasars whose proper motion has been measured!!!  Ooooopppssssssssssss – now that’s a biggy.  Now I wonder why this hasn’t been front page news for weeks on end like the photographic confirmation of Einstein’s prediction of the bending of light by the Sun??

Hang on in there Halton – looks to me like the truth will out sometime pretty soon 🙂

Astronomical community – Egg, face, on, your – rearrange to complete a well-known phrase or saying.

 

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Using half-hour subs on the mini-WASP array this is the result of imaging the Abell 1377 region of Ursa Major – together with some advanced processing techniques courtesy of Noel Carboni.  A negative B&W image is shown in order to see all the”faint fuzzies” more clearly.  The “swarm of bees” above the central star are all galaxies – in fact these are the galaxy group Abell 1377.

 

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The New Forest Observatory is a private observatory run by Prof. Greg Parker from his home in Brockenhurst, Hampshire.  At the current location it is not, unfortunately, open to the public.  However, if the current plan to change the Sodium street lights around here to white light LED lamps goes ahead – then I will have to up sticks and move to another (New Forest) location with less local light pollution – and then I will purchase a property with more land and the possibility of a Visitor Centre and public involvement.

On a fairly regular basis I receive e-mails from people asking if they or their children can “look through the telescopes”.  Well, as stated above, the observatories are not open to the public – but in any case, as the telescopes are used solely for imaging, there are no eyepieces to look through, so it is not possible to “look through the telescopes” anyway.  I also get asked whether it would be possible to visit on such and such a date to film the observatories in operation or to see how they are run.  The trouble with that one is the British weather.  It is all well and good to choose a date which is convenient for you to visit, but the British weather has a mind of its own, and it is highly likely that your date will coincide with completely overcast skies.  To give you an example, for the last 3 months I think I have had a total of 5 imaging nights.  But – although the New Forest Observatory is not readily accessible – there are (at last count) ten Astronomical Societies in Hampshire where you can go along, learn some astronomy, and even look through telescopes.  Google “astronomy clubs societies Hampshire” to find the one closest to you.

Finally, I am afraid that at the present time, and in the present location I cannot offer you any work or internships at the observatory – much as I would like to.  Once again, if I am forced to move to a darker site with more land, as looks very likely, then that situation may well change.

I hope that clears up what the New Forest Observatory is – and is not – and I hope you are not too disappointed.

But – please don’t forget – although the observatories are not open to the public – we do offer Introductory courses on deep-sky imaging, and on photography in general.  Please see the “courses” section for more details.

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Too much water vapour in the air tonight for any serious imaging – but you can still see the stars – so I took out the DSLR.  Here are the two New Forest Observatories with an Orion background and plenty of other goodies too.  What other gems can you spot?  Although this is not a deep-sky image – it was still processed by Noel Carboni 🙂

 

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So it was completely clear ALL DAY and I therefore had both observatories powered up and ready to go before dark.  Soon as it gets dark we have wall-to-wall cloud.  This is now well beyond any sort of joke.  Anticipating a clear night I also had the DSLR set up ready to capture the ISS at 7:00 p.m. local time.  There was a faint reduction in the cloud cover overhead at this time (unbelievable) so I just managed to get a shot of it.

 

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Although I cannot use the Altair finder as a guidescope as intended, I can still bolt it onto the top of the array with the video camera.  I can then use this for the occasional polar alignment check, or to take the odd wide field video clip as/when required.  Picture to follow.

 

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Well although I was clouded out last night I still managed to image asteroid 2012 DA14 through the thinnest part of the cloud 🙂  A single solitary one-minute exposure as the asteroid was moving through Draco at 22:51.  The planetarium screen shot shows the region of Draco with three stars arrowed – these are the corresponding three stars arrowed in the mini-WASP image.  Nothing to shout about, but at least I got a record of the thing – and it was a huge bonus when I thought I’d got nothing.

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Well as predicted – the only way I’m actually seeing the little blighter is via the live feeds.  Sky clear while Meridian weather did their live piece from here, even got the mini-WASP array focused up and ready to go on Algieba.  Then, just as the asteroid would have been getting into view – in came the cloud.  Just a tad cheesed off at the moment.

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