The night sky

Spending the weekend on lake Pokegama (Po- Keg-Ama, not Pokey-Gamma) in  Grand Rapids gave a nice opportunity to get some really dark skies for astronomy and astrophotography. The first evening was overcast until well past my bed-time. The second evening was pretty special.

Around 10pm, the milky way was glowing overhead,  the constellations were hard to pick out as there were many more background stars than a London based sky-watcher normally sees.

Ursa Major & Minor

Ursa Major & Minor

I took some photographs, of course. The settings were 18mm focal length, infinity focus, 20sec exposure time, and remote control shutter release (to avoid camera shake).

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Solar eclipse October 2014

An unexpected bonus of being in the US this October was the chance to see the partial solar eclipse.
A simple setup with a nature spotting telescope let me grab this image.


A large sunspot group is just visible vanishing behind both the moon and the silhouette of the house on the other side of the street.

Science Showoff

A month or two back, looking to publiscise the work I do, I got talking to the university PR people. It was suggested I email Steve Cross at Science Showoff and do a 9 minute stand-up science/comedy set for them.

I was skeptical to say the least; but noting ventured, nothing gained.

I prepared a bunch of slides and videos and didn’t rehearse them. I was still woring out what to say in my head as I was introduced. Oh, by the way, this is in front of a crowd of around 100 strangers, who had all paid for the privilege of seeing 10 of us try to be funny ( and scientific).

It went worryingly well. People laughed when they were supposed to. Everything worked.


I even got a nice bunch of tweets and new followers afterwards.


Now if I can just figure out how to make snails poo different colours I might have another bash at this.



A trip to the top of the UK. The view from Ben Nevis was largely obscured by cloud, but the trek was warm and easy.


The pub at the end on the way down was a very welcome sight.
2h 45m to get up, and about as long on the downward return (it’s very hard on the knees).