Click on the IMG_8691 link below to see a timelapse video I took in Mauritius recently. You can see the earth shadow creeping up the sky. The sky below the line actually went a beautiful deep blue, which doesn’t really come across in the video
Towards the end of the video, the sun obviously went behind an obstruction and you can see a big shadow being cast on the sky at the top left hand corner of the screen. It was amazing in real life
A group of us met at the yard at Rosliston Forestry Centre for our latest session getting the dome ready for the observatory. Led by our stalwart observatory lead, Ed Mann, ably assisted in the coffee department by Heather, the team stuck strips of material along the seams between fabric lining on the fibreglass panels of the observatory roof, and Ed installed the first of Julian’s new prototype roller bearing assemblies for the observatory sliding telescope door. I took pictures and looked on whilst others worked hard! No room for me at the inn – or at least no room in the observatory dome for me as well as everyone else! I did not mind – I got sun-burnt yesterday at the Science Day and my arms were a bit sensitive! I know……..a man’s excuse – I may as well have said I was suffering from man-flu!
Message from Ed:
Well, once again, many thanks for all who turned out for this next stage of the refurb. We’re getting to the final stages now, with just the chain/ motor mechanism to be refitted, the internal surface to be sprayed, and any remaining fibreglass tape to be fitted (Yes, we ran out of adhesive again, but that was due to damage in the post). There is another 2.5 L pot on its way and I’ll order some more disposable brushes and gloves etc.
As Andy said some time ago, this is a great focus for the group, and we definitely had some funny moments again yesterday. Two of these for me were when you could see the realisation dawning on Damien when the milky, inoffensive copydex-like adhesive suddenly turns into a ravening beast that wants to stick you to anyone and anything around you. It’s pretty impressive glue
Secondly was a comment that Paul B made when about how quiet it had gone (we were all busy). After seeing Damien’s world record attempt to see how many things he could stick to his hands, I said ‘Maybe Damien has glued his mouth together as well’. All I heard was a muffled ‘Mmh Hmmm’ from inside the dome but it sounded funny at the time
As you can see from the photo, we were all hard at work that morning!
After finding out the other day that my ZWO 174 camera doesn’t seem to work anymore, I decided to hang my Canon EOD 450D onto the back of my 8″ Celestron SCT to grab some snaps of Orion while the weather was good (yes, that day really did happen!!)
I was quite pleased with this one although I can’t remember how to get a resizable image onto the blog
My camera’s gone back to 365 Astronomy and they are sending it back to ZWO for replacement (I hope)
Ed Mann and I attended again the Astrofest amateur Astronomy conference in Kensington, London. As usual the talks were fantastic covering a wide range from being part of an astronaut rexperience in the antarctic to a review of Cassini and Juno to SETI, the radio universe, dark energy, Victorian amateurs by Allan Chapman, Libyan desert glass, New Horizons at Pluto and beyond and a range of others. One other attendee told memthat in her opinion the talks were betterthanb last year. I am not able to judge myself as they’re great every year in my opinion.
There were also plenty of visitors – this conference appears to be doing better than IAS in this respect. The final session was sold out.
However, the exhibitors were limited with virtually no bargains, hardly any stock and a generally depressive attitude which was a shame. Sadly this year this conference was not the place to come to find a wide range of kit.
Overall still an enjoyable experience and worth coming.
Andy and Ed
Video from Astrofest 2018 in London:
Andy tries to dock with the ISS on a Soyuz simulator:
In my typical fashion, the most ridiculous thing happened to me whilst operating this simulator. I gave up just before the end, believing I would not succeed. I got up and then my educator suddenly shouted, “I have never seen that!” After I let go of the controls, the simulated Soyuz spacecraft drifted sideways to a perfect docking! I don’t think I would have succeeded in doing this had I carried on trying to dock the thing……so I ended up with a certificate of successful docking!!
Allen Chapman talks about Victorian grand amateurs in the lecture theatre:
Photos from some of other talks:
Dallas Campbell, TV presenter from Stargazing Live and Gadget show, with Andrew (below) :
Dallas Campbell talks to Astrofest:
The only stuff I bought from Astrofest this year – truly! Two mission patches for Tim Peake’s mission to ISS – one for me and one for Damien.
I’ve been experimenting with the All Sky camera setup to try and extend the total exposure time for an exposure. One limiting factor is the camera firmware which limits exposure to 1 second.
The way that iSpy gets the images from the camera is using a combination of RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol). The command line for that is the funny string of characters you entered when first setting up the camera (rtsp://admin:@192.168.1.253:554/mpeg4)
This is then passed into iSpy via FFMPEG software, which is basically a communications interface. Here’s where I’ve made a discovery. I can change the command line to allow frame integration of 2,4 or 16 frames i.e. 2s, 4s, 16s exposure.
I still have a little more playing about to do before I release the command line but it looks promising. The FFMPEG documentation is a nightmare but it’s incredibly powerful
Some of you may remember that I picked up a Baader 8-24 zoom lens from Astrofest a couple of years ago for £60. It was complete but the mechanism was a bit crunchy and sticking. Eventually it packed up completely. This left me with two choices, abandon it, or to attempt a very complicated and almost impossible rebuild.
Anyone who knows me would guess that I went for the second option!! So, heart in mouth, I went for it
I would immediately stress that, unless you are very technical, or completely mad (like me), **** DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS ****. There are lots of tiny screws, lenses and spacers and plenty of grease.
The problem I found was that there are three rollers/ guides that run in a helical groove. See the screwhead to the left of the 20 in the first picture. If you look at the second picture you can see there is no roller. The screw of that, and the third roller , had sheared. These screws are tiny M1.8 x 4mm screws.
This is where the fun part/ insanity started, as I had to either extract the sheared screws or drill them out with a 1.3mm drill. It wasn’t possible to extract them so I had do some very nervous and careful drilling. This also involved a complete stripdown to clean everything. I mentioned plenty of grease … it was everywhere!!!
I gave everything a good clean and (eventually) got it all back together, and IT WORKED!! Yayyyy . I now have two working zoom lenses