Friday, February 2, 2018

February 2018

February 12th 1020 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through moving thin cloud and saw that the sunspots from the day before had rotated. The Big Bear images showed some smaller sunspots in the same region that I did not pick up in my bins.

February 11th 0910 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun in a clear sky and saw two sunspots.

February 9th 0820 GMT

I tried to photograph the Sun from indoors, still not being 100% fit. It was too low and shining through trees but I thought it would make an interesting shot anyway.


A few minutes later, it had cleared the trees, so I carried out the planned shot. It didn't work, probably as it was indoors, so I did a drawing from visual observations.


February 9th 0750 GMT

The Moon was a waning crescent and I took some shots with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.

February 6th 1305 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun in a clear sky and saw a single, large sunspot.

February 4th 1040 GMT

I finally had some clear sky, so checked out the Sun from indoors with my PST, as I was still ill. I could see some granulation and tried to photograph afocally using my DSLR at 70mm and auto-exposure, with a lens hood. Initial indication were that I’d captured some parts of the solar disc. One shot caught part of the disc quite well but I could not extract any detail from the others. At least, there was something in the concept.

February 1st 0640 GMT

The Moon was low and bright in the west. I still had a cold, so I photographed it from the house with my DSLR.
Unfortunately, focussing a DSLR at 300mm on the Moon is a bit hit and miss and this time it was a miss.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Non-Astronomy Photos 2018

February 15th

I dove through Tonypandy (Wales) and took some shots.

February 2nd

I found some old photos on my camera, so processed them. The first was some flowers in Victoria Park, Bath,

The acers in our garden were bare but this old photo showed a full set of leaves, also from Victoria Park.

February 1st

I was between things in Radstock, so took a few photos.

I cannot remember the name of this flower and (shame on me!) we have them in our garden. It's nice to see flowers in winter.

Well at least I can recognise pansies!

I rather like the Methodist Holy Trinity Church.

Radstock Wheel:

More flowers, this time the daffodiloid, dwarf narcissi.


January 26th

Yet another church - St John the Baptist Chipping Sodbury.

Here's the clock tower from the same town.

January 20th

I found a rather nice church in Swindon Old Town, named Christ Church and St Mary's.

January 19th

I took some snaps of the River Thames near its source in Kemble. Many days it shows as a puddle and I've even seen it dry at this point. After heavy rain, it was flowing quite nicely and there was even some water in the original source, although there was nowhere to photograph it from the road.

January 18th

I took some hill photos near Treorchy but not all photos came out.

January 10th

I caught a cat on a roof but it was cold felt, rather than hot tin.

January 7th

I took some pigeon shots from my back door. However, they were slightly out of focus.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 Writing Blog

 “The Theory of Nothing” has now had a change to its title and is now “The Quantum God” to reflect the main character’s newer ideas about the universe. I haven’t started writing it yet but am starting to jot down ideas and write some pieces that I may use of adapt later.

“Being an Astronomer” has stalled, partly because I need to take more photos and I have been distracted by my end-of-year activities and my brain has been buzzing with “The Quantum God”.

 It is not unusual for writers to have more than one project on the go but we must be sure that any ideas, that are worth pursuing, make their way into “print”.

February 13th

Second article on Best Binocular Review published:

February 4th

I have done a bit more on "Being an Astronomer" but am writing for a magazine as well:

January 25th

I finally can report some progress on “Being an Astronomer”. I have now completed the second pass of the Deep Sky chapter.

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Asocial Blog

Philip Pugh's Asocial Blog


I always thought of myself as a social person, first down the Student Union Bar. 40 years later I have no idea how much a pint of beer costs in a pub. Do they even serve pints these days, or is it half-litres? That’s what I mean by being “asocial”. Being anti-social is deliberate sabotage of other peoples’ lives, like vandalising bus timetables, smashing windows and all that. I’m certainly not that, nor do I wish to be. I simply do not meet people in a traditional social setting. At first, I thought it was me, that I was somehow different and not inherently likeable. Well I do have personality traits that many people find uninteresting or irritating but just name one person who doesn’t, not that I’m using that in any way as an excuse. No, I’ve come to the conclusion that we now live in a very asocial society (is it even a “society” any more?). I’m just an example and not an exception.

Firstly, social life pretty much went out of the window when our daughter was born. No, I do not regret having her, nor do I regret putting her first but, as a result, my wife and I neglected ourselves. Secondly, I live far from my birth family and even further than my in-laws, actually the other side of the Atlantic and the equator. We have friendships here that we value very much and they know we are here for them and vice-versa. Thirdly, it is impossible to meet friends down the pub or visit anyone when you are part-way round the world on a business or, for that matter, packing for one or unpacking from one! But I’m online a lot and I do interact with people through work, so I do have a social comment, even though I am asocial.

Walk-On Girls

 So yes, it is like two sides of a coin. Feminists claim that parading female beauty (or perhaps, in their eyes, female sexuality) is demeaning to women. The girls feel that they are being denied a source of income. So who is right?
Miss World, F1 girls, you name it, they have all come under fire. Yet, unlike many porn stars, nobody is forcing these girls to take part in these events. Besides, this is neither porn nor bare sexuality. They are being paid and, usually, quite well. If they are being objectified, it is of their own free will.
Now would I mind if I was objectified for my looks? Not a bit, although whatever looks I might have had have long gone. However, that is not really the point. In general, women do not usually objectify men in the same way that men objectify women, so my view is more hypothetical. I fully support the right of women to look at naked men but, honestly, the main “market” for pictures of “sexy” men is the gay community. Would I mind being “objectified” by a gay man? No, not really. Gay men have as much right to objectify men as lesbians have the right to objectify women. Yet, it is undeniable and an inconvenient truth, that men are the main objectifiers, so perhaps the feminists have a point.
As I’ve become older, I have separated the idea of beauty from “sexiness”. Maybe it came as the result of growing up and being dad to a young woman. Is parading female beauty objectifying? I say no but parading female sexiness is. Is it morally wrong? Perhaps but only because men are not objectified to the same extent. There is a fundamental difference between the genders in this way. Yet, is it the willing, paid participants who are being exploited or the (mostly) men as the consumers?
Would I like my daughter to appear on Page 3? Not on your nelly!  But I would defend her right to do so if that was her choice.



This is crass lunacy on so many levels. Firstly, there are fights in and outside pubs and nightclubs very weekend in this country. Why does it take more than three months to investigate an alleged fight outside a nightclub? Surely the police and judicial system have got several centuries worth of experience of dealing with these sort of things? I've seen some speculation as to what happened, yet seen nothing to confirm or deny it.
I always thought people were supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Now, if someone is in the public eye, they are "tried and convicted" by the press and if they are proven innocent, well there is "no smoke without fire" is there? Didn't he hire a great solicitor who could get him off?
Then what about the England and Wales Cricket Board? The Aussies must be laughing their heads off at us. Perhaps Ben Stokes was unwise to be outside a nightclub after 2 AM. As far as I know there was no grievous bodily harm and if they ever jailed everyone who ever got involved in a bit of fisticuffs, over half of the adult male population would be in clink. No, I'm not excusing it and I'm not condoning it but a fight outside a nightclub is hardly in the same class as armed robbery, terrorism or causing death by drunk driving. If the judicial system couldn't get their act together and knock the issue on the head BEFORE the start of the Ashes, then why was Ben Stokes not allowed to play? Perhaps he should have been suspended from vice-captain, at least until it was resolved.
As it was, this lunacy cost England one of their top players. Few might speculate that we would have saved the Ashes even if he played but even the Aussies would feel that the team that they beat wasn't a full strength one and the victory was somewhat hollow. Has this been in the public interests and the interests of the game of cricket? Not a hope?

January 17th Minister for Loneliness

Government gimmick or a genuine attempt to deal with an increasing problem? Whichever your view, loneliness is real and it won't go away in a hurry.

Aside from the devastation that most of us feel following a bereavement or relationship break-up, there is the feeling that many people do not have much contact with others. Honestly, I think that the problem has always been with us but has become much worse. Unlike the USA, people in the UK have traditionally been reluctant to migrate far from where they grew up. However, people have become more willing to move to better jobs, cleaner air, less traffic, more entertainment, cheaper housing and a million and one other reasons. Cheaper 'phone calls and the internet have helped people keep in touch with friends and family but, quite often, intra-country migrants do not make many new friends after they move. Despite labour-saving devices, people are more busy with longer working hours, longer commutes and the financial necessity of needing two full-time incomes to support a family.

Using myself as an example, I have a small circle of people that I see often. Those of you who remember George Best, will know that he was not only a great footballer but also a great social personality. Yet he once said that he only had six really close friends. If we are close to a small number of people, the loss of one can have a profound impact.
I think we have lost our sense of local community over they years but was it ever really there? Perhaps in pockets of the UK but not to the extent it is portrayed on telly. I think most people experience loneliness at some stage in their lives. Is there a cure and will having a minister for it make any difference? The jury is out.

January 21st Halesgate like Stokesgate

Another daft situation where a cricketer was suspended for non-cricket-related incidents: Would a shop assistant be suspended from their job for being involved in a fight on a night out???

January 2018

Jan 29th 1600 GMT

The waxing gibbous moon was low in the east, as the Sun was close to setting. Tycho and its rays were showing well and there were some lunar craters in the south. As it was two days before full, Grimaldi was not visible. It was a shame that the biggest lunar eclipse for years would not be visible from the UK.

Jan 29th 1535 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun but did not see any sunspots.

January 20th 1050 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light but found it quiet. There seemed to be some surface shading and a small filament. I had to view from indoors, due to a cold.

January 19th 0920 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light but found it bland and featureless.

January 18th 2010 GMT

I had a quick look outside with my binoculars in a clear sky. The Orion Great Nebula (M42) was very prominent and some outlying fainter regions were visible that I'd never seen before. I couldn't count the Pleiades (M45) as I could see so many. It was the same with the Hyades, although I needed to sweep from side to side to see the whole cluster.

January 18th 0640 GMT

I took three 30 second exposures of the Pole Star at 300mm focal length and ISO 6400 and 12 dark frames. I processed using Deep Sky Stacker and GIMP.

January 17th 1150 GMT

I had a brief opportunity to check the Sun through my binoculars and filters and saw two small sunspots.

January 16th 1100 GMT

Finally, a sunspot was present on the SOHO images and I had some clear sky, well clear-ISH! As there was moving cloud, I was unable to try a telescope and camera (my preferred method), so used a binocular scan instead. I did not find the sunspot, though.

January 6th 2040 GMT

 There was some clear sky. I Used my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO6400 and 2 seconds exposure. I started with the Pleiades (M45) and the Orion Great Nebula (M42). I also had a try at M41, which was almost certainly too low and M35 which I just could not find!
The Pleaides did not stack in Deep Sky Stacker, despite taking 21 dark frames. I stacked 11 frames in Microsoft ICE instead and finished in GIMP.

I managed to stack M42 with Deep Sky Stacker.

No luck with either M35 nor M41 but I stacked eight frames of Alcor and Mizar.


January 5th 2110 GMT

I tried snapping the north polar region at 300mm focal length, ISO 800 and 3 minutes exposure. It did not come out as hoped, as it showed star trailing.

January 5th 0835 GMT

There was some moving cloud, with clear patches. I took some shots of the Moon with my DSLR at the same settings as 3rd.

January 3rd 0640 GMT

There was still moving cloud after a storm but moonlight was getting through sometimes. I took some full disc shots with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/2000 second exposure.



January 1st 1315

I checked the Sun with my PST. The solar disc was bland but I was unable to photograph it but my camera had stopped working, hopefully not for good.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Social Media Policy for 2018

First, many thanks to all my followers and audience during 2017.

 I’m making some key changes for 2018. This is in response to various changes in my life and also how I perceive the way people view photos and blogs in general.

 Astronomy Blog (arranged by month on here)

My astronomy blog will stay pretty much as is. I cannot say, for sure, whether I will observe and photograph more or less. As with most people, my sources of income and family needs come before astronomy, blogging and just about anything else. As before, posting my updates will usually be up to two weeks after my observation.


Fortunately, I’m not one of those people who post hundreds of selfies on Instagram and never have been. My appearance is less than interesting to most people as I am neither exceptionally handsome nor ugly. In any case, I DO NOT share photographs instantly anyway but carefully check and edit them before they reach cyberspace. I am still guilty of over-posting photos. From now on I will only post photos that are of high quality or especially interesting but, preferably both. I use Flickr for my gallery and I will stick with Flickr unless they start charging and restricting space, which is why I migrated to Flickr in the first place.

I will still be posting photos in my astronomy blog but will only post the highlights to my Flickr gallery and my picture videos.

I have started a new blog entry for non-astronomy photos, with only highlights going to my Flickr gallery and picture videos:

Asocial Blog

 This is a new feature with comments on the news and social media. Yes, it will include such things as religion and politics, so if you are easily offended, please give it a wide berth. Feel free to post your views agreeing or disagreeing. I will treat you with respect but any post disrespecting me or other people posting comments will be removed. However, if you re-post your comment with disrespectful remarks removed, I will welcome it.

 My Writing Blog (

 I will continue to post about my writing but have started a new thread for 2018.


I will continue to use Twitter to communicate small messages and links to updated material.

I cannot promise what time of day it will be but I will post at least one astronomical photo per day. If it is not a current photo, it will be an interesting one from my back catalogue. If you don’t have Twitter and don’t want to have Twitter (although setting up an account is quite easy) just use Google or another search engine and search for “Philip Pugh” and “astronomy”. You can also view my Twitter feed via a link on my home page, without setting up an account. Better still, set up an account and follow me and I will follow you back and will re-tweet anything I find interesting from you.

I will post major updates on Facebook (, too but I do not check my Facebook messages hourly or even daily.

My Website

This will remain largely untouched and most of my media content will be in my blog. However I PROMISE to update the background photos more often, something I failed to do adequately in 2016 and 2017.


Feedback is welcome and I will address it as completely and promptly as I can.

And Finally…

The nature of my life and anticipated changes for 2018 will mean that I will not update my social media for days but, conversely, may have times when I am less busy and able to respond to messages and post updates.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

December 2017

December 31st 2200 GMT

Conditions were broken, light cloud there was only one target worth photographing and that was the Moon. The Moon appeared full and was near perigee. I took 120 frames with my Mak and DSLR at 1.54m focal length, 1/500 second exposure and ISO 100.

December 27th 1710 GMT

The sky was clear and I took some full disc moon shots with my Mak and DSLR. I also took some close-ups with my Meade Electronic Eyepiece. Nine whole days of inaction.


December 18th 1730 GMT

I took some test shots then aimed my camera at Perseus at 70mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure.
At 1802 GMT, I caught a meteor and it was in the right direction to label a Geminid. Luckily it went through Melotte 20.

At 1813 GMT, I caught another one in the same part of sky.

 I stacked 250 images to catch Melotte 20 and part of Perseus.


December 17th 0000 GMT

I reset the camera to 3 seconds exposure and 300mm focal length, still at ISO 6400 and aimed at the Orion Great Nebula (M42), I stacked 227 images to get this.

Then there were 273 frames of Orion's Belt.

December 16th 2030 GMT

Unfortunately my wide-angle camera lens was broken, so I set a meteor trap with 70mm (hardly ideal). I used ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure.
OK, no meteors but I picked up the star clusters M36, M37 and M38 in Auriga.

At 2120 I moved the camera to the Hyades and waited!


December 15th 2145 GMT

It finally cleared, so I set up a camera to hunt for meteors. To be honest, I was having technical problems with my wide-angle lens so I got the settings well wrong. I caught a sporadic meteor with a short trail at about 2150 GMT.


December 14th 1240 GMT

The Sun appeared featureless in hydrogen alpha light with my PST. As I hadn’t seen the Sun for a few days, I took some full disc and quadrant shots.

December 11th 1730 GMT

I did not honestly think it was properly dark but I saw a few constellations. I left the camera at its normal meteor settings and aimed the bottom of the frame with the area between Ursa Major and Auriga.
At 1739 GMT I caught a meteor coming from the right direction to identify it as a Geminid. Yipeee!!

December 9th 0825 GMT

I was busy, so just took some full disc shots of the Moon with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.

December 8th 2130 GMT

I had another go at catching meteors but, as it was later, I aimed the camera at Gemini. I processed an early frame to reveal the constellation of Auriga.

A later patch of clear sky enabled me to stack 33 images of Auriga and Gemini together.

No meteors this time.

December 8th 0740 GMT

The weather forecast was bad but there was a moon in a patch of clear sky with my name on. I took a few full disc frames before cloud, and then rain rolled in. Unfortunately, I had over-exposed the frames so the final result was not as good as I hoped.

December 7th 1855 GMT

I set my camera as a Geminid meteor trap by using the usual settings and aiming the camera at Auriga. I did not catch any meteors. As most frames had cloud, I did not stack anything but extracted an image of Perseus from one of the better frames.

December 7th 1250 GMT

After days of cloud, it finally cleared but the Sun was rather quiet, so I took full disc shots only.

December 3rd 2100 GMT

Conditions were not great but enough moonlight was getting through the cloud. Only very bright  stars were visible, Castor being the faintest. I took 221 frames at 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.

December 2nd 2345 GMT

The weather forecast was awful but when I let our dogs out, I saw that the Moon was showing through the cloud. I did a quick shoot, in case the opportunity was lost. I experimented with the settings but found that the best results were with 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure. The Moon was very bright, as it was near perigee and about 14 hours before full phase.

December 1st 1200 GMT

The Sun was quiet, so I just did a quick solar shoot of mostly full disc shots.