Category Archives: News

More on the Curta calculator

What’s really nice about the Curta is that by thinking about the maths problem you want to solve in a logical manner you can minimise the number of handle rotations to calculate the answer.  So for example, finding the answer to 9×9, 99×99, 999×999, 9999×9999, 99999×99999, 999999×999999, or 9999999×9999999 all only take two handle rotations to get to the answer.  But it gets even better than that.  The Curta’s reign as calculator supremo of course came to an end with the advent of the electronic pocket calculator, but now look again at that last calculation in the set above.  The answer the Curta (Type II) gave me to 9999999×9999999 was 99999980000001 which as you note is a 14-digit number.  Now go and check on my (not inexpensive all-singing and dancing) electronic calculator and what happens?  Can’t supply me with all the significant digits can it!  Gives me 9.999998E+13 as an answer – not as accurate as the Curta!  WOW!  Actually have to go to the computer and run Mathematica to get the full run of significant digits – so there you go.  O.K. so my electronic calculator can give me square roots, trig functions, and all the other fancy stuff at the press of a button – but my pocket difference engine can supply me with more significant digits in two handle rotations.  Just how cool is that?

Shortlisted on the Sony World Photographic Awards 2012 – WOWSER!!!!!

I’m very pleased to announce that I have been shortlisted by the Sony World Photographic Awards 2012 for one of my HSF shots 🙂  What great news!  Thanks guys.  Go to the Sony WPA web site, scroll down to the “Open” section and then check out the “Split Second” category.  I submitted a nine microsecond image of a high speed event taken using high speed flash equipment that I have designed built and developed over the past 25 years.

Lunar halo over the New Forest Observatory Monday 2nd January 2012 7:20 p.m.

I was imaging the Double Cluster in Perseus when a large halo formed around the Moon.  Apparently these halos are due to light reflection off oriented ice crystals in high Cirrus clouds.  It is meant to preceed a storm, and certainly a huge bank of cloud soon came along – no storm yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it started pouring with rain soon.

The bright object next to the Moon at the 7 O’clock position is Jupiter.  Just outside the halo at 10:30 are the Pleiades, and a little further out at 9:30 is Aldebaran and the Hyades.  Over to the left (East) just rising above the trees is the familiar Winter constellation of Orion.  Bottom left hand corner is the North dome, and a little further to the right is the top of the South dome.


Limited Edition Astronomical, Mathematical and Scientific prints from the Scientific Artist

You can purchase signed and numbered Limited Edition prints of any image you see on the Scientific Artist web site by e-mailing me at

You can also purchase signed and numbered Limited Edition prints of any image you see on the New Forest Observatory web site by e-mailing me at the above address.

Print runs are limited to just 250 except for size A4 which is unlimited.  Prices are as follows and includes free U.K. delivery:

A4 – £18 +VAT   A3 – £35 + VAT   A2 – £65 + VAT   A1 – £85 +VAT

I can also produce prints of well-known mathematical constants to 10,000 decimal places (or more if you like, e-mail me for your request) including Pi, e and the Golden Ratio.  If there is a Mathematical object (or constant) that you would like and it does not appear in the Scientific Artist gallery just contact me to see if I can create it for you.

First Light image for the mini-WASP array at the New Forest Observatory

This image shows the Sadr region of Cygnus (the Gamma Cygni nebulosity).  This is a 2,000 second sub-exposure taken using one M26C camera (the other is on its way back to Starlight Xpress today for repair).  No proper drift alignment done yet, so there is a lot of Polar rotation in the image, not to mention hot pixels and dust bunnies – but it is FIRST LIGHT for one of the biggest personal projects I’ve ever undertaken – so a real milestone for me personally 🙂