Blog Archive


Globular Cluster M3

Certainly not the best astrophoto I have ever taken, but reasonably pleasing, because there is much more in it than I thought when I took it. It was not fully dark and there was a first quarter moon, so the sky background was bright. There was hazy high cloud. Even so, there are stars down to 15th magnitude and you can see a galaxy (NGC 5263 – magnitude 13.4) over to the left of the image.


I have twice received signals from FR1GZ this morning using WSPR. WSPR is a digital radio signal (details and free software here)┬ádesigned to pass minimal information with minimal radio power over great distances. Since FR1GZ is the call sign of a radio amateur on Reunion Island deep in the Indian Ocean, this has definitely worked. He is using about 5W of radio power – less than your average taxi radio – and being received clearly many thousands of km away.

The eggs are gone

I wandered down the garden this morning to see that the blackbird eggs had gone. Not a surprise. There was no debris visible so something took them away to eat them. I did not see what or when it happened, but foxes are common here and could certainly carry eggs.

Back in the garden

I spent about an hour and a half in the garden, beginning the long process of bringing it under control again. Things have been much too busy for a long time for me to do much more than cut the lawn, so there is much to do. Today, I cut back the grape vine that had taken over the greenhouse and turned the cuttings into mulch. I think I am about half way to getting the greenhouse back into a useable state, but I will have to replace some glass and do some other repairs as well as clear out the weeds.


For the first time in a very long time, I decided to set up the telescope and try to image the supernova in the galaxy M82 before it fades into invisibility. It took me a while to remember how to set things up, and this was the first time I was using a mac for astrophotography, so all the software was new to me. Even so, I managed to get everything working, though not particularly well.

February 2014 Weather

This was a remarkable month, weather-wise. Mild and wet. According to the weather station I run at work, the average air temperature was 6.5C (that compares with 3C last year) and there were no days with an air frost (compared with 10 last year). The coldest was 0.2C on 11th and the warmest 12.5C on 25th. At the same time there was 112mm rain falling on 21 days of the month with 14.

More on the Meteor

The internet has quite a lot of discussion about the meteor I saw. There is a good analysis at the UK Meteor monitoring network. There’s a great photo taken from Bristol here. It seems to have fallen above the English Channel and so was probably about 50 miles away from me. It also seems to have been brighter than I thought: just showing how light polluted this town has become.


I saw a very bright meteor this evening, at about 6:30pm. The sky was clear and it was dark, but with just a ghost of light left in the sky. At first, I thought I was seeing a firework, but I soon realised what it must be. It was significantly brighter than Jupiter, but certainly did not light the sky or cast a shadow, and it appeared as a thin streak, coming down almost vertically and growing quickly in apparent size.

Hello world!

In August 2014 I start a new kind of life. This will be my new blog (and will include things before the big change starts) The old blog is still in existence, but is now archived and you can reach it through this link.