Saturday, January 13, 2018

Non-Astronomy Photos 2018

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”.

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.



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

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.