I managed to grab a few 5-minute subs of this comet as it passed close to Epsilon Cassiopeiae on the evening of 22/08/2014 and the morning of 23/08/2014.

Sky90/M26C on the mini-WASP array, 21 x 5-minute subs – processed and stacked using SUM.

The comet was rapidly approaching Caldwell 8 when these sub-exposures were taken.

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Last night was a very rare night.  Clear, Moonless, and the Milky Way like I’ve never seen it before from the New Forest Observatory – magic :)

I used the 200mm Canon lens with the M26C OSC CCD on the mini-WASP array to capture Kemble’s Cascade.

31 subs at 5-minutes per sub with a 52mm IDAS filter on the front of the 72mm lens (so the diffraction spikes are artificial).

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We’ve recently had  a few clear Moonless nights, rare events, great for imaging.

I piggy-backed a Canon 5D MkII DSLR and a Canon 200mm lens on the C11 and chose as my target the constellation Delphinus.  Reason – the imaging combo has a field of view of 10 x 7 degrees which will cover this small constellation.

29 sub exposures at 4-minutes per sub, ISO400 and f#4 were the parameters – below is the result :)

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I managed to get some imaging done a few nights ago.  Clear sky and no Moon :)  Used the south dome with the Canon 5D MkII and the Canon 200mm prime lens piggy-backed on the C11.  Captured the main stars of Aquila, Altair the bright one in the middle, Tarazed above it with the associated dark nebula Barnard’s “E”, and below Altair we have Alshain.  And all this with a stunning Milky Way background.

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“The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down 10-seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”

Know exactly what you mean Carl – and it’s not just America :(

 

 

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Probably the most memorable line from the whole of the original series of Star Trek was the title of this post spoken by Captain Kirk.  It still brings a shiver down my spine – it is SO perfect.

The poem is “Sea Fever” by John Masefield.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

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One of my water collision high-speed flash shots made today’s National Geographic “Daily Dozen”  :) :)

http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/4000144/

 

 

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In 1968 we were living at the top of the Sir John Soane’s museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Holborn, London having just returned from 2 years in New Zealand.  Believe me, the museum was the spookiest of places at the best of times.

However, I decided to take a hot bath one evening and settled in for a good soak.  Something very strange happened that night.  Something that I will never forget.  Something that has stayed with me, clear as day for the past 46 years.

The water in the bath started to build up into waves, waves with a period of about a second.  The amplitude of the waves increased very quickly over maybe 10 seconds or so, and they were so high at the walls of the bath that they actually collapsed over just like a wave in the sea.  As you can imagine this was a bit unsettling for a 14 year old kid who just wanted a soak, and I sat up with a start.  The waves stopped!!  A bit shaken I laid down in the bath again, and no sooner had I sunken myself in my nice hot bath again – the waves started up!  Big waves, breaking on the walls again – shit!  Sat up again, and they stopped.  This was weird.  Even I could see this was weird.  And at 14 with a highly active imagination and no Physics background – this was Supernatural and something spooky was going on in the Museum that night.  I laid down in the bath again – same thing happened.  This was all too much, got out and pulled the plug out – pretty shaken.

That evening stayed with me for quite a while.  I think I told my parents who I believe told me I was talking rubbish, and that’s how it stood for maybe 20 years or so until I thought about it again – this time armed with a First Class Honours Degree in Physics, Maths and Astronomy from the University of  Sussex.  The Supernatural event became a natural event, but probably a very rare event.  I must say that in the few baths I took since that day (preferring showers nowadays) I have never been able to repeat the observation – but this is what I think happened.

By pure luck (bad luck?) I had filled the bath to the point where it was in resonance with my heartbeat pumping the blood around my body.  I had created a resonant cavity and the little “pushes” into the water caused by my heartbeat pumping the blood around were at resonance with the bath/water “cavity”.  As for any resonant system, when pumping energy into the system at the resonant frequency there is a rapid build up in amplitude, whether it’s a voltage, or a wave amplitude.  Very quickly the waves built up in the bath until they were splashing off the walls like a mini-storm at sea.

So that’s what I think happened with my increased Physics knowledge and my scientist hat on.  But it could have been a Ghost of course :) :)

 

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If you have to accompany your photographic images, or your artwork in general, with flowery prose – you can be pretty sure your art is rubbish :)

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Symbiosis or Evolution, or maybe a little of both?  It doesn’t really matter.  If you don’t know what I’m on about in the first sentence then you need not read any further and it won’t ruin your day.

Gaia – lots of misconceptions here – Gaia is NOT an organism, Gaia is a system.  A system that includes both living, and what we call non-living objects.  You don’t believe me?  Well the living objects certainly have a massive impact on our Planet’s atmospheric composition.  You don’t believe me again?  Then why do you think those looking for life on other planets propose using spectroscopy to look at the atmospheric components – and thus the clue as to whether life exists there or not?

Or our seas, rich in algae and plankton not only do they have a huge atmospheric impact, these life forms also have a necessity for the sea’s PH to be within certain bounds for their very existence.  So what?

I have written published papers on Biomimetics where I state that if Nature has produced a solution, whether aerodynamic, optical or hydrodynamic to some survival problem, then that solution is likely to be highly optimised and we are unlikely to be able to improve upon it – apart from using materials (like metals) that Nature doesn’t seem to incorporate into her living systems to any great extent.  Note that the living systems are not “heading” towards some sort of “perfection”, there are random changes occurring that may, or may not aid survival.  Those changes that do aid survival will allow the continuation of the life form, and vice-versa.  There is no “intelligence” involved here, but there are enormous timescales involved, timescales beyond human comprehension – and this is what makes evolution such a difficult concept to grasp.  But just take two things from this paragraph – very long timescales, and changes to living organisms that bring them more into “balance” with their surroundings in order to increase their probability of survival.

It is believed that the Earth is around 4.54 billion years old, and that life on Earth began around 3.8 billion years ago, unless you’re one of those that believe life began around 4,004 B.C.  So life has had 3.8 billion years to thrive, multiply, evolve and undergo symbiosis, creating billions upon billions of different bacteria, viruses, plants, animals, insects and birds – and during these geological timescales all these life forms have been undergoing change to increase their probability of survival in an environment that was also undergoing change.

In 2014 A.D. we are over 3.8 billion years down the life road, and the “system” that has evolved over all this time, Gaia, is now taking a very severe bashing from just one species – Homo Sapiens.  The system is actually having bloody great holes cut out of it, and what happens if you have a highly complex system in a quasi-equilibrium state and you take bloody great holes out of it?  It changes of course in an attempt to regain some sort of quasi-equilibrium.  And how does it do that?  How the hell do we know?  This is a multi-billion, probably multi-trillion component system we’re talking about here – who can possibly know how such a complex system reacts to the wiping out of whole animal species, and the felling of obscene areas of rain forest?  This is not Gaia “fighting back” as some sort of conscious organism that feels pain (I hope) – this is a complex life/non-life system in quasi-equilibrium that is having severe external constraints put upon the system – by our complete disrespect for our planet basically.

Is there global warming, climate change, melting of the polar ice caps, massive increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, life-form extinctions and a myriad other worrying things going on right now?  Some will argue that some of these things are not happening, and that some may be happening but they are “natural” occurrences and not the work of Homo Sapiens.  Then again, the average Homo Sapiens, like the Ostrich, is a master at sticking his head in a bucket of sand.

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