Lockdown 3, Week 1

I didn’t document lockdown two, as it really didn’t seem to change things much. Work happened as normal, my cycling dropped off somewhat due to the weather and other issues, and I started using the tube again to get to the lab. The District Line heading west was mostly empty unless you hit particular times; even at its most busy, it was nowhere near pre-pandemic usage. Masks seemed to be in use by most people, often just skimming or sitting below the nose. Those determined to make a point of not wearing a mask were as blatant about it as possible. Groups of teenage males seemed to be the most likely to ignore mask and social distancing requirements.

Monday 4th January 2021
First day back at work. Walked from home to Stratford (9 miles or so) then caught the bus to Mile End. An easy enough walk, but not one I’m likely to do too frequently. I followed the usual route I’d cycle.
The day was mostly meetings about teaching and getting things up and running the in the lab. Rumours we may be about to go into Lockdown 3 started at lunchtime, two of the PhD students expressed concerns about how this would impact experiments and their progression. Unfortunately, it’s all up in the air.
I left early enough to get and empty train home.
We’re in Lockdown 3, but don’t call it that. No word from the university regarding the lockdown, I’m going to assume it’s a repeat of Lockdown 1 until told otherwise.

 Tuesday 5th January 2021
Cycled to work. The bike needs some attention, still making some odd noises.
Still so word from the university, I shut down the lab again and head home.

Wednesday 6th January 2021
Woking from home today, it’s online student induction all day; I may as well do this from the comfort of home with all the Tea I can drink on hand.
Before the induction kicks off, I receive an email from the university that boils down to “Business as usual”. I find out from a follow up email that I’m an

essential worker. THERE IS NOTHING ESSENTIAL ABOUT MY JOB.
Induction goes well, it’s a good group of students this year. It’s a shame we may never meet any of them face to face.
I spend the evening watching a bunch of cunts attack the US Capitol. I miss the final eviction of the terrorists because I’m asleep.

 Thursday 7th January 2021
Again working from home. Pretty sure I was supposed to be attending a virtual conference today, I got the day wrong – it’s tomorrow. Spent the later afternoon – evening adding new data to the conference presentation, and generally catching up with a colleague over zoom.

Friday 8th January 2021
Awoke to a hard frost, which had just started to clear when we got an unexpected flurry of snow. The snow laid for an hour or so on the still frosty patches, but melted almost instantly everywhere else. The dog does not like snow.
The actual conference day. Again, working from home. Fixed a few snags in the conference presentation, then had the first tutorial session with my tutor class.
Presentation went well, we should turn the results into a journal article soon. Attended a colleague’s professorial inaugural lecture on zoom, congratulations to them.

Saturday 9th January 2021
Took the dog to the park, much muddier than I expected. I took a few photographs, mostly of trees, these were the best ones:

A frozen spiderweb on an interesting tree at the park
A frozen spiderweb on an interesting tree at the park
This tree was almost perfectly monochrome against the grey sky, it only took a little bit of desaturation to bring it out.

A clear night is predicted, so I set up the telescope for the first time this year, aiming to try out NINA for control and imaging instead of APT that I usually use.
Lit the woodstove in the shed to keep warm while I worked. I thought I’d use some smokeless cure I picked up last year. Useless bloody stuff, it took forever to light and burned so slowly the shed never got above 8 Celsius.
Neighbours had a house party in defiance (or ignorance) of tier 4 restrictions.
I managed to get an hour of imaging on the andromeda galaxy and had started to get to grips with NINA when all the imaging went to crap. Upon inspection, the heater band on the telescope objective was not able to deal with the extra cold snap we had and the lens started to fog over. I packed away, and will need to improve the heater before next time.

Sunday 10th January 2021
Walked to the shops to but some supplies for the week. Ended up buying two bags of compressed sawdust logs for the woodstove, I’ve used these before and they throw out loads of heat. Getting the shed up to 25 celcius when it’s freezing outside is not unusual.

Quarantine – Week eight

A week that really didn’t register.

Monday 2020/5/04

I took a photo of the moon.

The moon, 90% full on 2020/05/04

Tuesday 2020/5/05
I did something. Dunno what though. I really should keep better notes. Probably wrote code all day.

Wednesday 2020/5/06
I took a photo of the the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)

The Whirlpool Galaxy

Thursday 2020/05/07
The day must have happened, but I have no recollection of it.

Friday 2020/5/08
Saturday 2020/5/09
Sunday 2020/5/10
These days also occurred without trace.

Quarantine – Week six

Missing Anniversaries.

Monday 2020/4/20
Swelling in my arm has started to subside. Still chowing down on antibiotics.

Tuesday 2020/4/21
A year ago today, I was in Chesterfield.

Wednesday 2020/4/22
Some more motion in my arm and much less pain, decided to make the most of the unseasonable weather and clear skies and do some astronomy. Getting the telescope out was harder than usual. Managed to get some time on M101 – the Pinwheel Galaxy.

M101 – Pinwheel Galaxy

Thursday 2020/4/23
Should have bought train tickets to EMFCamp today, but it has been cancelled this year.

Friday 2020/4/24
Much more motion in my arm now, but strength is reduced. Got the telescope out again to try a new light pollution filter. Added another 3 hours to my Bode’s Galaxy data.

Saturday 2020/4/25
11 Year anniversary of meeting M. First year we’ve not been able to celebrate in person. Bum!
Telescope was still set up and ready to go, so I imaged The cigar galaxy and Bode’s galaxy in the same frame.

Cigar and Bode's galaxy from a very light polluted back garden in East London
Cigar and Bode’s galaxy from a very light polluted back garden in East London

Sunday 2020/4/26
Nothing much happened.

Orion

I’ve been trying to get back into astrophotography after many years lapse. I’m still learning my way around the new technology, so haven’t yet made the best use of some wonderful clear nights.

That said, I did get out a week or so back and get around 30 minutes of total exposure time on the Orion nebula. The processing I’ve done on the image is a bit rough and ready so far – I really need more exposure time and some short exposures to fill in the over-exposed centre of the nebula.

Here’s the result so far.

Orion Nebula

An early awakening

Around 5:30 this morning I was rudely awoken from odd dreams about plastic jewellery by loud voices outside my window.

Looking out, this was the scene that greeted me.

The pipe was happily disgorging hundreds of liters of water per minute, washing away the sub-surface of the road. The water carried the mud and silt around Osborne Square, leaving a nice sticky film everywhere.