So far today I have received replies from the Financial Ombudsman and Experian.  No prizes for guessing this one though – nothing from the Post Office!!  You guys are really digging yourselves a big hole there.  The Financial Regulator (read Terminator as far as you’re concerned) is on your case.

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I received a rather rude shock courtesy of the Post Office this morning.  With no notice whatsoever I was informed by e-mail that my account had been suspended and there was a contact phone number at the bottom of the page.  I didn’t immediately ring the number as this smelt like a scam, so I used another phone number to talk to the Post Office and they confirmed that the number was correct.  So here begins the nonsense.  My account had been suspended as there had been no transactions on the account for 3 years.  There is a very simple explanation for this.  The money in that account was part of the lump sum I received when I took early retirement from the University.  I put my money into that account both for the (supposed) ease of access and for the (now) pitiful interest  It was when I opened the account a relatively high rate of interest.  That is the sort of account where you usually put lumps of your cash that you don’t want to spend immediately.  No problem I thought – they immediately suspended my account – so they can immediately reinstate it can’t they?  No they can’t.  I am now waiting for a letter – yes that’s correct – in this age of digital connection by phone, FAX, e-mail, Skype – they are sending me a letter with instructions on how to reinstate my account.  This was quickly becoming not a sick joke but a very serious matter.  So “they” were able to see that there were no transactions on my account – but “they” couldn’t see that I logged onto my account EVERY month as I filled in my own monthly financial “snapshot”.  Are you being serious Post Office – you really couldn’t see that I was regularly accessing my account even though there was no transfer of money?  That makes you even more incompetent and even less qualified to be dealing with my cash.  So right at this moment my cash is in limbo.  I am very glad I logged on to see how much was in there just a few days back or they might be informing me there is very little in the account.  They might try to inform me that anyway – then the fun will really start!!  I have informed Watchdog (BBC1), Rip Off Britain (BBC1), the Financial Ombudsman and the Financial Conduct Authority regarding the totally unacceptable and highly unprofessional way the Post Office does its daily business and I hope at least one of this lot can give them a very severe talking to.  In the meantime, if you were thinking your money is sitting safe in your Post Office account just waiting for you to come along and use some of it – think again.  My strong advice to you is withdraw all of your cash – right now – and put it in a Bank.  The other half of my pension lump sum is in a Lloyds account, also untouched – and have they decided without notice to suspend my account?  No they haven’t.  And I know for a fact that they would have had the courtesy to contact me before doing anything as drastic as suspending my account to find out exactly why the account was not being used.  Unprofessional and totally unworkable – Post Office you are a complete disgrace and you are not fit to be handling peoples’ money.

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Here is the latest state of play on the array now known as the “megawasp” array :)

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I was looking at the pinhole camera image taken Winter Solstice 2013 – Summer Solstice 2014, and I realised there was an image I could take using the same kit that would be extremely interesting, and as far as I can see – it hasn’t been done before.  So I’ve dug out the BIG (4″ diameter drain pipe) pinhole camera and the 8 x 10 inch photographic paper ready to re-mount the camera on the south-facing house wall this Summer Solstice.  There will have to be a film change at the Winter Solstice, and then it needs to be left until Summer Solstice 2016 before I know whether the idea has worked or not.  So a year-long photographic experiment will soon begin at the New Forest Observatory :)  Getting all excited now.

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Looking through this year’s captures I found one I hadn’t put up for viewing.  This is Carbon star X Cancri taken on 15th February 2015.

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A “Little Planet” shot taken this afternoon with the Canon 5D MkII and a 15mm Canon fish-eye lens.

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I feel in such a good mood having just completed the mega-WASP upgrade that I think I will resurrect the almost forgotten Image of the Month :)

Here is the very recent Polaris image taken with the mini-WASP array – 36 x 5-minute subs using all 3 Sky 90s with (non Trius) M26C OSC CCDs.

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Nice way to start off a new month.  After 4 days of drilling, cutting, taping and wiring – the upgrade converting the mini-WASP array to the mega-WASP array is now complete.

Additions to the top plate are another Canon 200mm lens with M26C Trius OSC CCD and an Altair finder scope with web cam (a Lodestar can be swapped for the web cam if necessary).  A fifth computer was installed in the north dome ready for the new goodies and I am sharing the monitor between camera 3 and camera 5 (since both won’t be used at the same time) so only 4 monitors in there instead of 5.  Got to admit it looks a lot like a car wiring loom in there now, but I’ve done a LOT of tidying up of cables while I had to make the changes so it is a lot less messy looking now (though it is still pretty messy looking).

So that’s it for the parallel array imaging system – no more places to fit any new stuff – time to send along the good weather so I can put this thing through its paces.

Still plenty of setting up to do though before it can be let loose in anger.  Both 200mm lenses need to be aligned to the rest of the system.  Need to get good V-curves for both lenses and check that the autofocuser works o.k.  Need to move the array all over the sky and check that the Megrez 80 guider can also point through the aperture with the 2 x Canon 200mm lenses.  If it can’t then the web cam comes off the Altair finder and a Lodestar goes on for guiding – a bit of a pain, but not too bad.  With the web cam on the Altair finder I will need to get good polar alignment again as all this weight change will definitely have thrown it out a bit.  Probably a dozen more things will need sorting as I go along – but that’s the “fun” of this hobby isn’t it?


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After 3 days I have now finished all the metalwork, drilling and tapping, and reconfiguring the top plate of the mini-WASP array.

The top plate will now accommodate 2 x Canon 200mm prime lenses, each with a Starlight Xpress M26C Trius OSC CCD + an Altair finder scope with a Philips web cam attached.

I’ve said it before but this time I think that’s really it as I simply cannot bolt anything else onto the frame.

With this final incarnation I think a name change is also in order – so what was the mini-WASP array is now officially titled the mega-WASP array.

The array can be run as two separate imaging systems (the limitation of the dome aperture means I cannot run all cameras at the same time, which is a great shame).

System 1:  The very wide field imager.  This is the 2 Canon lenses with M26C Trius cameras.  Both lenses/cameras image the SAME object, so I am getting data down at a rate that is 2x the actual imaging time.  The FOV of the system is 4.46 x 6.64 degrees with a sampling of 6 arcseconds per pixel.  The M26C Trius cameras are 10-megapixel resolution.  The Canon lenses are run with their apertures wide open and I use a 52mm UV/IR cut filter on the front which doubles as both a filter and an aperture giving f#3.8 operation and good quality stars across the whole of the M26C chip.  The bonus of aperturing the lens in this way is that you don’t get the 8-spiked star spikes which I personally find pretty unattractive.  You get no spikes at all with the Canon lenses used in this way, just as with a refractor.

System 2:  The Sky 90 array.  This system comprises 3 x Sky 90 imaging refractors each with an M26C (non-Trius) OSC CCD.  Two of the three refractors have a filter-wheel attached with IDAS, H-alpha, H-Beta, OIII and SII filters.  Again, each imager images the same object which gives me a data rate of 3x the actual imaging time.  The FOV of a Sky 90/M26C is 3.33 x 2.22 degrees at a sampling of 3 arcseconds per pixel.  All three Sky 90s have the Takahashi reducer/corrector fitted so the f# of a Sky 90 is f4.5.  The fourth slot in the main frame houses the Megrez 80mm William Optics guide scope with a Starlight Xpress guide camera (driven from one of the M26C cameras).  This guider also acts as a guider for the 2 Canon lenses on the top plate.

O.K. so we are never going to get enough clear Moonless skies to justify all this lot – but at least for those short opportunities, when they finally do come along, I can make the best of the time given to me by the weather Gods.

Pics will follow when everything has been set up. tuned in, and running :) :)


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I composited some 4-hours of Hyperstar III data and some 6-hours of Sky 90 data to give the following deep image of NGC281 – the Pac Man nebula.

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