Plant stem from kitchen

The following photos show a piece of plant stem I cut up from a pot in our kitchen this evening. I don’t know what the plant was. It shows may chloroplasts and cell walls.


x20 bright field:

x20 objective Phase Contrast I annulus:

x32 objective Phase Contrast I annulus:

The following two photos are both taken using the x32 objective and phase contrast I annulus. The long thin features look like bacteria but they did not move so I wonder if they are hairs from the plant?

Microscopy of culture of moss collected 7 days ago

This sample was collected from our garden 7 days ago and kept in an open jar of water.

The contents of the jar had separated into a top layer of moss floating on the top, an intermediate layer of very cloudy water and a bottom layer of debris on the bottom of the jar. I have tried to sample all three layers in the pictures below.


x20 objective bright field sample from bottom of jar – debris layer. This shows large numbers of bacteria.

x32 objective bright field bottom debris layer:

Moss 7 day culture bottom jar layer video x32 objective Phase I annulus:


x20 phase contrast I debris layer bottom jar:

x32 objective phase contrast I debris layer jar:

x20 objective phase contrast I cloudy liquid layer between debris on bottom and floating moss – I am not convinced that this is phase contrast even though I labelled it as such – looks like bright field to me now:

x20 bright field liquid layer between debris and moss – video:


x20 bright field one single moss plant from the floating moss on top of the jar. If you look carefully you can see hundreds of bacteria surrounding this plant:


M46 & M48 – wide field images

Again taking the opportunity of a half-hour imaging session, here is M46 in Puppis from the window-sill. Since it is a wide field view, the included planetary nebula, NGC 2438, (a line-of-sight effect, it isn’t in the cluster) appears pretty small, but after a bit of processing you can see it just above centre and slightly to the left. For those of you trying to see it visually, here is a quote from Stephen James O’Meara’s splendid book “The Messier Objects”:

“There is yet another illusion with M46. It appears to contain a tiny planetary nebula. NGC 2438 – – –  But the cluster and nebula are not physically associated because the cluster is 5.300 light years distant, whereas the nebula is 6,250 light years away. Positioned just a few arc minutes north of the cluster’s centre, this 11th magnitude planetary measures only about 1’ in diameter. I suspected it at 23X but 72X shows it clearly as a ghostly mote among the multitude”

(I see from my notes that I observed it visually and sketched it at 01:10 UT on 23/12/2001 with my 8″ SCT at X266)

Since there was no moon, I had another go at M48, showing a few more stars than the last one I posted.

For completeness with the Messiers in that region I have also included the recent wide-field image of M47

Looking for Tardigrades in St Michaels Churchyard, Lichfield

Tardigrades are water-dwelling, eight-legged, segmented micro-animals. They were first discovered by the German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze in 1773. The name Tardigrada was given three years later by the Italian biologist Lazzaro Spallanzani. They have been found everywhere: from mountain tops to the deep sea and mud volcanoes (Wikipedia).

Tardigrades, often called water bears or moss piglets, are near-microscopic animals with long, plump bodies and scrunched-up heads. They have eight legs, and hands with four to eight claws on each. While strangely cute, these tiny animals are almost indestructible and can even survive in outer space. Tardigrade is a phylum, a high-level scientific category of animal. (Humans belong in the Chordate phylum — animals with spinal cords.) There are over 1,000 known species within Tardigrade. Water bears can live just about anywhere. They prefer to live in sediment at the bottom of a lake, on moist pieces of moss or other wet environments. They can survive a wide range of temperatures and situations (

I went looking for tardigrades today in St Michael’s church graveyard in Lichfield, Staffordshire, UK. No success – sadly – so you won’t see tardigrades in the photo and video below. However, the samples I obtained from moss on gravestones, some lichen off trees and a sample from a wood chipping pile, revealed a range of life shown in the video below.


Photo x32 objective:

Video x32 objective:


Wider angle view of M47

Managed a 10-minute observing session from the window-sill before the clouds rolled in. M47 is quite large so this time, in order to get a good context, I used a focal reducer. Using a reducer on an f/5 refractor is not optically very good – and it was rather hazy, so the image is not brilliant. You can compare it with the one without the reducer at