Earlier in the evening, before imaging La Superba, I saw a stunning crescent Moon/Venus photo-opportunity in the West.

Grabbed the Canon 5D MkII and a 50mm lens and started snapping away.

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I managed to get 4-hours worth of 10-minute subs on La Superba last night using the mini-WASP array.  I composited this with around another 4-hours of data from a Sky 90/M25C combo – so around 8-hours in total using 10-minutes subs on La Superba and friends.  I consider this one now done :)

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Can actually see the Sun today – first time in 3 days!  So I got the Solar imaging rig out – TS80 refractor, Canon 5D MkII, Baader Solar film, and a 5x Powermate – and took a few shots.  The 3 faint dots middle-right are actually for real and not dust on the sensor as confirmed by an SDO image downloaded at the same time :)  Whoopee – I’m ready to go – now all we need are some clear skies on Friday morning.  What are the chances of that do you reckon?

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I had one hour last night to get a 2-framer of the Merak region before thick heavy cloud came over.  As it was, many of these subs were taken through thin high cloud which put a great glow around Merak.  Merak is the brightest star and to the right we have the Broken Engagement Ring.  To the lower left we have Messier 108 and Messier 97 (The Owl nebula) – in the background there are dozens of faint fuzzies.  Only 18 subs at 4-minutes per sub for each frame using all 3 scopes and cameras – so managed the job in the hour, and got a half reasonable image at the end of it which was very surprising :)

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Earth Science Picture of the Day (EPOD) today http://epod.usra.edu/ is my Carbon Stars of Kemble’s Cascade image :)

Thank you Jim for continuing to publish my work.  Must say, that one came out particularly sparkly :) :)

 

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I got an uncalled for e-mail from a Press Office today – I get plenty of these, but today I was a little shorter than usual on the phone.

Is it possible for them (the Press Office) to take some photos inside an observatory, they can let me know more about it. So I reply, yes it is possible tell me more. They then reply back – can I ring you? I say yes, and the main part of conversation goes something like this:

Me: So what’s in it for me exactly?
Them: Nothing
Me: So why would I want you round here disturbing my work and making a nuisance of yourself in my observatories then?
Them: <Silence>
Me: Thank you for your call. And I hang up.

I should have said, “Well if there’s nothing in it for me then there’s also nothing in it for you I’m afraid.”

I am sick to death of these parasites (B-ark candidates) who want something for nothing from me all the time. Maybe if they meet enough people like me they will slowly get the message.

The message is this:

I AM NOT A REGISTERED CHARITY AND I HAVEN’T JUST GOT OFF THE BOAT – THANK YOU, AND HAVE A NICE DAY!!!!

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I only need 300 more hits to take me up to the half million mark :)

Take a browse through my Flickr  images today and let’s see if we can get there:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/12801949@N02/

 

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In the days of TOS, Scotty was an inspiration for engineers, today I believe the inspirational figure is Tony Stark – and I must agree, he is a very worthy successor to Scotty.

Spock was my inspiration in following a life in science, he was my scientific Muse – it is as simple as that.

I first came across Spock on TOS whilst living in New Zealand from 1966 to 1968.  It is strange that New Zealand being at the arse-end of the Universe actually got TV programmes before the U.K. But I digress.  Star Trek became compulsory weekly viewing.  Strangely, the day we left New Zealand to come back to the land of the living dead – the U.K. – some two years later, we saw the premier of Arthur C Clarke’s 2001 in a Cinema in Auckland.  That same evening we boarded the Australis and returned to the U.K.  Leaving New Zealand that evening was the shittiest way to end a day I’ve known – so far.

However, the U.K. did offer repeat viewings of TOS over the following years and this reinforced my interest in science, chess, maths, logic and all things Spock related.  Eventually, driven by Star Trek, more specifically Spock,  I ended up taking a B.Sc. in Physics Maths and Astronomy at the University of Sussex which in turn led to a career in Semiconductor Physics and finally an Academic career at the University of Southampton.

Today, unhindered by a day job – and yet unable to travel amongst the stars – I can still live amongst the stars and nebulae, by imaging them, and bringing them indoors.

But – the main driving force behind the science all this time, for me, was Spock.  A hugely influential part of my life has gone – I will miss you Spock :(

 

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Last night I managed to get another 11 x 20-minute subs on this region to go with the 7 x 20-minute subs I got a few days ago.  This shows Coddington’s nebula – which is actually an irregular galaxy – and towards the bottom left is a large red Carbon star V Y Ursae Majoris.  The star’s name gives it away, these are to be found in Ursa Major.  Blazing Moon last night didn’t help with trying to improve the dataset – but even so there are traces of the Integrated Flux Nebula coming through which is to be expected as it is pretty dense in this region (close to M81 & M82).

 

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With the 200mm/M26C Trius combo in portrait mode I managed to grab 10 x 4-minutes of the Castor/Pollux region after 3-hours of setting up (focus mainly) in the freezing cold.  The chip turned out to be not flat for this image, so the next morning I brought it indoors and flattened it pretty precisely.  Now waiting for the next clear night to see how well (or not) I’ve done.  Would like to grab a 2-framer of the M44 region if at all possible.

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