.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Science

I have a BSc in Theoretical Physics from University of York and continue to be interested in Physics and Astronomy

Like many people I travelled to Cornwall for the solar eclipse on 11 August 1999, and, like many people I was rather disappointed. 100% cloud cover except for maybe 10 seconds of the partial phase a minute or so before totality.

I was on the centre line at Falmouth and did experience a couple of minutes of darkness as the shadow passed over us. I suppose it was still an interesting experience as it did go very dark, but, I think the more you know about what you could see, the more disappointed you are if you miss it. Curses!

Here I intend to create a month by month guide to what to observe.

 Monthly Sky Guide

I've decided to include some of my astronomical pictures, taken over the past few years in approximately chronological order

 Astronomocal Photos

The equipment I use for Astronomy is as follows:

Meade LS-8 Telescope with Autostar hand controller.

This is an 8 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain with Meade's Advanced Coma Free Optics which has stepper motor controlled azimuth and altitude drives.

The Autostar hand controller allows you to select an object from the database and slew the telescope to the object, of course, the telescope has to be oriented correctly for this to work so you have to go through an 'Align' process first. When you've done this, though, the telescope is able to slew to the object and get it within the field of a 26mm eyepiece.

The main reasons I got this 'scope is that I live in a rather light polluted housing estate with a street lamp peering into my garden from right outside my wall, and, although of course, proper astronomers would use 'star hopping' to find dim objects, I can barely see all the stars you need to do it. The second reason is that I have two small children and so time outside is at a premium. Anything which can help me use the time better is ok by me. Also kids are much less eager to wait for some minutes while you try and point the telescope in the right direction.

Image taken from MEADE brochure/manual

Meade  Deep Sky Imager (DSI). Bizarrely, does what it says on the box! Connects to the USB2 port and allows you to capture images of the aforementioned deep sky objects. basically it uses a fairly ordinary sensor but allows you to take exposures of many seconds. As I understand it, to avoid some of the noise you get from image sensors, the camera reduces the amount of power it uses (and therefore heat it produces) during exposures. All I know is it seems to work very well. If you look at the picture I took of the Crab Nebula (Messier 1 in Taurus) the picture isn't too bad, but, when you consider that I was barely able to see it in the eyepiece it did a good job!

Image taken from MEADE brochure/manual

Philips Toucam Pro. Used for planetary imaging,

 

 

I have also made a sun-dial for the wall of our house, based on the dial at Queen's College Cambridge.

 

 

I thought about working out the position of the lines myself but after some searching I found some software to do it for me. All that's needed is to supply the orientation of the wall or other flat surface you want to put the dial on and the location of the surface and the software calculates a series of lines for you.

You are not just restricted to just hour lines, but, you can also have altitude lines, constellation lines and several others.

As you can see from this picture, the queen's dial is nearly south facing and so is nearly symmetrical.

 

 

Here's our version. Because ours is on a South-West wall it looks rather different!

We did try and copy the overall design, or at least the spirit of it, including zodiac pictures etc.

 

I hope you like my experiment in JavaScript which is generating the background stars. I'm sure it's not the most efficient way of achieving the desired result, but I did say it was an experiment!