Archive for April, 2016

12 frames using the Hyperstar III and M25C camera with 2-hours of 10-minute subs per frame.  Also a 200mm lens with M26C camera 2-framer using 15-minute subs and 5 hours per frame.  So total integration time is 34 hours 🙂

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Could I please re-iterate:  None of my images are available “free of charge”.  Please take a moment to look at the “Image Agency and Copyright Notice” section.

Thank you.


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Here is the Epsilon Cassiopeiae region in Cassiopeia – and to the middle left you can see a very clear Lambda, together with a much smaller and fainter Lambda.

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The 100th monkey effect, which may not be an effect at all, is about non-physical communication of data.  The original 100th monkey effect supposedly started with a single monkey, in a group of monkeys on an isolated island, who discovered that washing the fruit left on the beach by monkey researches led to a less gritty meal.  This single monkey was of course copied by other monkeys in the group.  Now comes the strange bit, it was reported that other monkeys on other isolated islands then subsequently, and spontaneously, started washing their fruit – and that there had been no physical contact with the original monkey group – i.e. there had been no movement of monkeys from one island to the other.  So it seems at first sight that a new thought or idea when taken up by enough sentient creatures can somehow spontaneously appear in other remote sentient creatures.  Yes it’s spooky Mulder stuff, but it has not been conclusively proven that it even happens.

Except.  On many occasions in my scientific career I have come up with the most extreme (nutty if you like) ideas, only to find that similar nutty ideas have appeared around the world (mostly in Europe I have to say) within a couple of weeks of my initial thought.  Now this is nothing new, and it has been noted that in science when something’s “time has come” it seems to miraculously appear in several remote places almost at the same time.

Linked to this observation was another possible pseudoscientific observation.  Does the Universe evolve with the thought of man?  Do things happen as they do because that is what is expected of them?  When we put together an apparatus to carry out an experiment to find out something new, what do we do?  Do we throw together every bit of measuring kit we have and then chuck in a few lasers and bits of radioactive material – turn everything on and see what happens?  No of course not, but it might well be that such a “random experiment” would give us the most interesting answers.  On the contrary what we do is build the experiment SPECIFICALLY to answer the question we have.  Is it then any wonder that the experiment usually gives something along the lines that we anticipate?  Is it really any wonder that eventually we found the Higgs Boson?  The Omega Minus was famously predicted – and voila eventually found.

Where is this leading?  Try to keep with it for just a bit longer.  The greatest experiments are the “thought experiments” like the ancient Greek Philosophers, and Einstein used to undertake.  Using pure thought to delve into the mysteries of the Universe is the greatest thing out – and then to find that the results of this brain power alone can lead to experimental verification of these groundbreaking ideas has got to be wonderful, hasn’t it?  Or is it just that the Universe falls into line not necessarily with what the original great thinker came up with, but with what the current (popular) thinking is – as by the time confirmatory (or otherwise) experiments have taken place, a LOT of people are now aware of the original great idea.

Now this is an incredibly way out suggestion I know, but I have two things that strongly support this weird idea, one of which was an experiment I personally undertook at Philips Research Laboratories.  I had put together a pretty complicated piece of kit to measure the lifetime of deep-level impurities in Silicon when subjected to infrared radiation.  Now it doesn’t actually matter what that means – what does matter is that I put the kit together, put the Silicon sample into the kit, and started my measurements.  Now at this time I actually HAD NO IDEA of the results I was expecting to get from the apparatus – the work had been done before, elsewhere, but I hadn’t read it up.  No matter – I just got on with the experiment.  What happened?  Well the results I got out were basically rubbish, when I plotted out the basic parameters the points were all over the place and I couldn’t get at the lifetime I wanted to measure at all.  I stopped the experiment to go to lunch and before I came back to the experiment I went to the library to read up the results previously obtained by other people.  You can see what’s going to happen a mile off can’t you?  When I came back to the experiment later that afternoon and carried on with the measurements out comes the data which fits very nicely on an exponential curve to give me – quelle surprise – the lifetime I was expecting to measure.  Sounds like a made up story – you have only my word for it that, that is exactly how it happened.

O.K. so what’s the second thing then?  Well, we have perhaps the second greatest thought experiment of all time, Special Relativity, and we have this jumped up new theory called Quantum Mechanics. Fundamental to the Special Theory of Relativity is locality, or in plain English no information can propagate at velocities faster than light.  Experimental tests of the results of Special Relativity have confirmed the theory since the day it was published, over a hundred years ago.  Einstein really didn’t like Quantum Mechanics, and the Quantum Mechanics we know today, although refined a great deal, still has these fundamental niggles that upset Einstein so much.  In fact Einstein was so cheesed off with Quantum Mechanics that he kept coming up with more and more ingenious thought experiments to topple the theory.  And the so-called Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox was his BIGGY.  Now we don’t need to go into the fine details about what the paradox is all about beyond this.  Einstein had his Special Theory and the accompanying Locality Principle which had been experimentally verified to high precision.  Einstein also worked out a Quantum Mechanical experiment that if it worked (i.e. gave results as predicted by Quantum Mechanics) would require non-locality to be at work, in other words, information would need to be sent between remote, separated objects that had interacted at an earlier time, at faster than light speeds!!  Good old Albert had got them by the goolies on this one eh?

So, in order to test out what actually happens in “reality” (you should now be questioning what is meant by reality) we need to put together an experiment to make this measurement on two remote (light-line separated) objects.  And to do this we need to wait a few decades for Alain Aspect to come along and carry out a meticulous set of extremely difficult experiments to see what happens when you measure certain properties of two remotely separated particles that had interacted at an earlier time.

Now let’s get this straight – nobody right up until this point had a clue what the result of this experiment would be.  The apparatus, not being randomly assembled from various bits and pieces had been carefully thought out and put together just for this one experiment (remember the stuff I wrote above).  So was it a great surprise then that results of these truly groundbreaking experiments confirmed that the Quantum Mechanical (non-local) result was the one that was actually measured?  This by the way is where Einstein’s famous “Spooky action at a distance” comment comes from.

What have we done here?  We have pushed Nature into a corner and she HAD to come back with an answer, one way or the other.  It is no great surprise (to me at least) that in a Quantum Mechanical experiment set up to measure a Quantum Mechanical result by a Quantum Mechanics expert the result was the one predicted by Quantum Mechanics.  And yet this result implies non-locality, something that Einstein and Special Relativity can’t tolerate.  We have a pretty big disconnect here.

And we have no peer-reviewed, published, answer to this disconnect at the present time either.  Except I do 🙂 The Universe appears to fall in line with what the currently accepted ideas (theories) say should happen, and it appears to do so even to the ridiculous extent of agreeing to two mutually exclusive ideas (theories)!!  This calls into question what we understand by reality, and it is extremely interesting that the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiments of Aspect calls into question one of the following as being incorrect!  Either 1) Induction or 2) Locality or 3) Reality.  I plump for option 3 personally.


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Turned out rather noisy for 30 x 1,000 second subs with the Sky 90 array.  Not sure why as there was no Moon about.  Maybe I forget to turn the Peltiers on??  Need to redo this one with the Hyperstar III.

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4 hours of 10-minute subs from last year with the Sky 90 array.  Akira Fujii effect.

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Here is a 4-frame mosaic of the Kemble’s Cascade region taken with the Sky 90 array and M26C OSC CCDs.

I have used the Akira Fujii effect to enhance the brighter stars.  This actually means deliberately bloating the brighter stars which makes the image more pleasing in print.  As we actually go out of our way to minimise bloating in stars when we image them, this is a rather perverse process 🙂

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9th April 2016 was not a happy night for me.  Two passes of the ISS and the Dragon supply vessel predicted, one at 8:40 p.m. and the other at 10:15 p.m.  Sky clear!!  Moon setting at 10:39 p.m. and small phase only – so no problem.  Everything perfect for a unique image.

So I’m set up in the garden for the 8:40 p.m. pass, I see the ISS approaching and open the shutter.  As it is still fairly light I am taking a set of 10-second exposures.  As the ISS reaches the Zenith I can actually see the Dragon supply ship off to one side – brilliant – I haven’t seen it before 🙂 🙂  I keep taking shots until the ISS is well out of the FOV – brilliant – what a happy occasion.  So I packed the camera up to bring the data indoors for processing – AND – yes the lens cap was still on.  I don’t think I have gone quite so ballistic for a number of years – and of course I have NEVER left the lens cap on the camera ever before.

O.K. well I still have the 10:15 p.m. pass – but it is so low down I need to go over the forest to take the pictures.  No problem – load everything into the car and go over to a forest car park to get next pass.  Well that’s an eye opener!!  Didn’t realise that sort of thing went on in my local forest car park after dark!!  Undeterred I pressed on (the others discretely pushed off while I was setting up) and I got the image below.  The first part of the pass was lost from car headlights from a car coming back from deeper in the forest, but I got the main part of the ISS pass.  However I didn’t get, and I didn’t see the Dragon supply ship which was basically the whole point of the exercise.

Not a night to remember!

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The Sky 90 array was set on this object to see if I could pick up the 3 quasars near this galaxy.  No sign!! A day later I put the Hyperstar III on the same region but only got 4 x 10-minute subs 🙁  Possible sign of one of the quasars, but no sign of the other two – not a fair test however.  Below is the Noel Carboni process of the Sky 90 data.

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Got today’s EPOD with a groundbreaking image of a Dyson sphere construction around Polaris imaged in the early hours of this morning.

Thank you Jim for continuing to publish my work 🙂


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