Archive for the “People and Places” Category

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 was sitting at the computer yesterday (Saturday) typing out some rubbish or the other when for some unknown reason I suddenly twigged how those “Little Planet” images are taken.  So I grabbed the Canon 5D MkII and a fish eye lens and ran outdoors (between the heavy showers) and took this “Little Planet” view of the New Forest Observatories.  So the idea that just suddenly jumped into my head (from the aether) worked!!  How peculiar 🙂

I shall now overdo it of course and start taking “Little Planet” images of just about anything I can find.

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As it continues to pour with rain here in the New Forest – thoughts go back to the hot, dry days at the Starmus Festival in Tenerife June this year 🙂

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Here are a few pictures from the day – I still can’t believe how lucky we were with the weather.  Had a few drops of rain first thing in the morning just to put the scarers on us – then cleared up beautifully for the rest of the day 🙂





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As summer definitely starts retreating and autumn approaches a bit too rapidly – thoughts go back to a warmer time at the Starmus Festival on Tenerife – June 2011.  This is the sumptuous Abama Hotel where most of the Festival was held – it really was like something out of Star Wars springing out in the middle of a desert landscape like a fairy-tale oasis – a totally remarkable place.

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A very lively party at Sir Patrick’s last night, all the usual suspects present.  This was a double celebration of the 700th Sky at Night, and Sir Patrick’s birthday (which was the day before).  Sir Patrick had supposedly invited 70 people – I think there were at least 270 in the Marquee.

No photos of this event from me I’m afraid as some self-appointed bunch of knob-heads who were helpfully blocking the way in for Patrick’s guests made it clear that “the organisers” wanted no photographs to be taken (and no autographs to be asked for either)!  Who “these organisers” were I have no idea (and frankly I couldn’t care less) but I’m pretty sure that if Sir Patrick knew that his party had been hijacked in this way he would not have been too happy.

Other than that, great to see Sir Patrick again and looking forward to seeing the 700th edition of the Sky at Night this evening.

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For some reason an incident that happened when I was 19 years old entered my mind twice today (early signs maybe?).  Perhaps this account will be of some use to somebody out there, you never know,  it might even save a life 🙂

I left school at 19 (one year late as I spent 2 years in New Zealand which effectively cost me a year’s education) and joined the U.K.A.E.A. Harwell – yes the radiation place – as an Assistant Scientific Officer.  Now the first six months were spent taking the world-famous Harwell training course which I must admit held me in good stead for the whole of my working life, but that is by the by.  So for six months I worked at Harwell before going to the Culham Laboratory for Fusion Research to work on CO2 lasers.  In my first few weeks I noticed something VERY VERY scary, there were LOTS of people working there with duff legs!  Lots of the workers were hobbling about with some leg (or foot) problem.  Well I wasn’t stupid – I had 3 A-levels – this could only be one thing – RADIATION POISONING!!  So, panic stricken at the sudden realisation at what was going on (I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac as well as a Conspiracy Theorist) I ran to the Training Officer during the lunch break – he could see I was pretty upset about something, and the conversation went something like this.

Training Officer – “O.K. Greg, so what is the problem?”

Newbie A.S.O. – When I look around this place, I see there’s tons of people walking around with duff legs and the like.  What’s going on here?  Has there been a radiation leak?  Am I in any danger here?

Training Officer – tears of laughter rolling down his face (I didn’t think it was particularly funny at the time) – “No Greg, there has not been any radiation leak, and you are not in any danger from radiation.  What you have noticed is that as part of the Scientific Civil Service we are actually doing what other large organisations like ours are meant to do, and don’t – we are taking on our full compliment of disabled people.”

Newbie A.S.O. – “Ahh”.  Goes back to lunch.

So the moral of the story is this, sometimes, even when the answer seems completely obvious to you – it may not be what you think it is 🙂

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Sir Patrick had a Whisky tasting event he hosted at Farthings on 17th September 2010 and we were educated in all things distilled by Dr. Andrew M. Forrester who is the Balvenie Ambassador U.K.  Some rather fine Whiskies were sampled over the course of 3 hours and we were given the background on how they were made – fascinating stuff.  Must admit the highlight of the evening for me was when the very special bottle was opened at the end – now those of you that know me know that I’m not into drink at all – but that stuff was pretty amazing 🙂  I’m not saying how much per bottle, but you could get a couple of 2″ narrowband filters for about the same price.

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Sir Patrick Moore hosted one of his legendary St. George’s Day parties from his Selsey home.  The camera-shake was real as he wielded his Sword of St. George with a little too much enthusiasm 🙂

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My son Adam Parker recently graduated with a degree in Journalism and has been writing articles for local newspaper, the Lyminton Times.  In today’s edition there is an example of his work where he describes our recent visit to Sir Patrick at his Selsey home.  Picture courtesy Adam Parker.

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