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.

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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.

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

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

Mountain

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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.

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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).