Heather Lomas

Observing on 14th August at Rosliston

Had a really good time at Rosliston last night. Everything seemed to go safely and smoothly (after we managed to get in!)

The gaps in the clouds made it worth going and Jupiter and Saturn kept us company for much of the time. The owls were hooting and planes going over head. The odd meteor made us happy too.

It was great be able to chat and chill together. Thanks to Heather for organising it, and to everybody who attended.

Alan and Angella Rodgers

Peter Bolas Observatory Working Group 19 & 20/4/2019

Hi Everyone,

Well …… when RAG Members turn out to form a Working Party they really pull all the stops out !!

Friday – twelve of us arrived with a motley collection of wheelbarrows, garden forks, various forms of spades, lump hammer, pick-axe, etc. Roger, assisted in part by his son Ben, spent all day installing the various electrical sockets, meter and extra Fuse Box – thanks Roger …… The rest of us battled valiantly with the rock hard ground, trying to dig out all the docks, while ‘Fifi Le Grand’ (alias Geoff) provided the drinks and nibbles ! 

The results were amazing ….. a superb effort as the day got hotter and hotter ! Everyone was fair tuckered out by the end.  Even ‘Fifi’ had lost ‘her’ fair complexion – and sustained real sunburn !! The pictures speak for themselves …. including a new use for a wheelbarrow as a seat, and a Guinness Book of Records attempt for the largest blister !

Saturday dawned ….. and at 11 am Angella and Alan began a stalwart attack on painting the inside of the Warm Room. Well done both of you – they eventually finished at 4.30pm, with hardly a break – except for a Pasty, and an Ice-cream !! (Thanks go, too, to my friend Steve who produced the paint, and spent all day Thursday on our behalf, preparing the room – scraping, taping and covering, mixing the paint ….and providing the trays, rollers and brushes). The picture attached is a panorama showing three sides of the room – so no need to panic – A&A haven’t transformed the shape of the building just by painting it !

While they were tackling the blockwork, Ed began the day excitedly unpacking his parcel – the Intruder Alarm system…. and then continued to begin fitting the system. In my wisdom ( or maybe not !) I decided that as I am anaphylactic around paint fumes, I would spend my day continuing to excavate the rocky region and remove even more docks ! Not the best decision given temperatures reached in excess of 24 degrees ! I was rescued at one point, when Rob arrived with friends – thanks Rob !!

The next stage inside is to give the Warm Room it’s second coat …… finish fitting the Intruder Alarm …… and then silicone render the Dome Room before the Platform is constructed. Once these tasks have been completed – the woodworking in both rooms can start in earnest.

Outside – we have the drainage down the sides of the building, and from the roof, to deal with …… and to treat the whole of the wood cladding with Treatex (the suitable coating that goes with Thermowood).

I hope to see as many of you as possible at RAG on Friday – when we have our Guest Speaker, Pete Williamson, on Remote Observing.



Handover of new Peter Bolas Observatory to RAG by builders……and next steps!

Hi Everyone,

Yeay ! At last ! The Observatory is officially OURS ! We took ‘handover’, complete with all the keys, at lunchtime today !!

Now it’s our turn …… There are still loads of jobs to do before we can hold a Grand Opening. We will need to:

* install extra electrics – Roger R has that in hand. Thanks Roger !

* build the Platform all round the Pier, and install steps in the Dome itself

* construct the wooden Storeroom

* paint internal walls / and apply a coating externally

* remove ‘docks’ and prepare surrounding ground for sowing grass seed

* install three wooden ‘table / seating’ units in specific areas around the Observatory

There is more – but this will suffice to get us started …!!

Obviously, we will need a working plan for the order in which we complete things, and Ed has that in hand.

What I am asking all the Members is …….if any of you wish to help out / get involved in your Club / and would like to join one of the Working Parties to carry out this work, please let myself or Ed know.

We have already asked at Meetings, for working volunteers – so we are aware of some names already. This is a general request – to all of you. If you would like to be involved – just let us know !!

Just an aside – we were intending to ‘clad’ the External door, but it is just too heavy for this to be a viable proposition. Also the wood remaining on site will be used in the internal construction.


Heather (calm, but quietly excited …. and still unable to believe we have actually managed it !!)

Peter Bolas Observatory – Photos with dome on top

Those of you who were able to join us at a really good meeting this last Friday evening are already aware …… but for those of you who were not able to be there – Friday 26/1/2019 was ‘D’ Day for RAG …… ‘D’ for Dome Day !! ….. see the pictures below.

The Dome had been sitting in its stored location for almost four years – consequently, it was a very weird feeling watching it being transported over to the Observatory site – and eventually being placed in position !

We began negotiations for the Observatory five years ago (at the end of January) ….. and now the building exists ! Actually the access gate was installed as well, on Friday.

The Dome installation isn’t complete – but it is in place ! Then we have the floor and the pier still to be concreted, doors fitted, and electricals installed.

……..and so we progress !



Observatory dome repair session 7/5/2018

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!


International Astronomy Show and Meal Afterwards!

I have to thank Andy, he persuaded me to go along to the event – which I think I enjoyed more having not been the previous year!

I had hoped to get along to at least one talk, but there were so many new things to see that we didn’t manage it! I didn’t intend to buy anything either, but I couldn’t resist in the end…  😉

The buying even started as we entered the event (after having had a chat with two local astronomy groups with tables in the foyer – good to get an idea of the type of leaflets others produce), when we came across some nice-hand made, stained glass, astro-themed decorations at £18 a pop!

a bit cheaper than the larger artworks, like this black hole inspired piece…


I was amazed to see (and get to play with), the new Nikon full frame D850 (£3500) as it only came out a few weeks ago, plus the Sigma 14mm f/1.8 ‘Art’ lens (£1650).

I had been thinking it was time to upgrade the old 12Mp D3, but having talked to astrophotographer Nigel Ball (he had a stand at the show and was one of the lecturers on Friday), who uses a 12Mp D3s and newer 36Mp D810A with the same Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens I have, he said I may be better off looking for a second hand 16Mp D4s instead…. we’ll have to see…

As well as all the nice camera gear, I especially like the Panther Alt/Az mounts which I’d seen two years ago… I got to chat to the UK distributer, but more importantly the Danish designer. He explained how it tracks, how to use the superb hand controller and with the addition of the extra field de-rotator. how they got around the problem of long exposure photography on an alt/at mount.

Andy even challenged him to set up the mount within their advertised time frame (around 5 minutes). He managed it in half that time whilst Andy did his best to put him off – taking pictures of the poor chap!!!

But with the poor weather we’re having, dropping another £5k on a new mount, no matter how cool… seems rather crazy… I still like it though 🙄😀😳


It was cheaper though than the Austrian made ‘ASA’ Direct Drive mount (uses magnets rather than gears or a disc) that caught mine and Andy’s eye at the show, a ‘snip’ at a discounted……  £11.5K !

Something else that caught my eye (and a nice change from all the usual gear you expect to see), keeping with the artistic slant, was some astro-themed paintings… The one here on the lower right looked far better in real life than that printed in the show guide. Is it a galaxy or globular cluster… that’s for the observer to interpret!

We had a good chat to the artist and talked about how to break into this market – difficult when the work was selling at £700-800 for the smaller works and £2-3k for the bigger ones. Such a purchase in our household would include the two of us. At this sort of show, mostly men…. is ‘he’ really going to buy without the OK from the wife..?!

After the event we all got back together for an Italian at ‘Pizza By Goli’ in Lichfield – thanks to Stephen for organising and to Heather who we toasted for her work on RAGs new Charity Status!

Ooh yes, my purchase – a pair of Vixen SG  2.1 x 42mm ‘Galilean’ binoculars. Down to £199 from £259 from The Widescreen Centre. I remember seeing these when first released 4 years ago or so for around £229.

I even got a very quick chance to use them Saturday night once home before the clouds rolled in. The huge field of view is around 25 degrees, which allows you to see the entire ‘Square pf Pegasus’!

I added the below to show you the comparison with a Telrad view…

Only the central 40-50% is really clear, but it did allow me to see stars within ‘the square’ that I couldn’t see naked eye very clearly, if at all – these were around Mag 4.5-5.5. On a good night, especially in the summer when viewing the Milky Way from Hereford, Wales or on holiday in Austria – they should really come into their own and be good fun!


Rosliston Science Discovery Day 7/10/2017

Thanks to Peter (Hill), Ed, Bob, Roger, Geoff, Terry, Heather and Damian, who along with myself talked to 50+ members of the public about astronomy at the science discovery day today at Rosliston Forestry Centre.

The weather remained dry although persistent cloud meant that solar observing was limited to a few precious moments in the first hour. I ought along my LOMO polarising microscope and folks were excited to look at the birefrigement colour patterns on meteor thin microscope sections and at microfossils in thin sections of fossil-containing rock. Problems with my power inverter left my laptop out of action but Ed’s battery saved the day for the microscope illuminator so that the public could continue to look through the microscope!



The picture below was taken today through the LOMO microscope using my Bresser MikrOkular camera – it shows microfossils in rock thin section. Birefringence in the crystals of minerals in the fossil-bearing rock is evident:

Observatory working party 8/4/2017

Now that the money has been raised to build the observatory, the first step is the look at the observatory dome we purchased – is it still in good condition?

Ed Mann has organised two working parties to repair the dome – the first was this morning.

All in all, the dome is in good condition – the team did sterling work – thanks to everyone who took part!

The photo below – After two years, while Mike, Dave and Julian looked the other way…..Chris helped Ed out of the Capsule!