Friday, 21 September 2018

Looking Up

Once the stormy weather had passed through on Wednesday and some semblance of calm had returned it was the chance to take a photo I've been trying to get for over a week but it has been so overcast. There were some bands of cloud but they were drifting past fairly rapidly leaving occasional clear spots.

To start with, a photo of the Moon


What I really wanted to capture was this


Recently the Moon and Mars have been visible quite close to each other in the night sky.
For over a week Mars has shone like a bright orange star. To spot it on the photo - start from the bright blurry moon and follow an imaginary line from it to the bottom left hand corner. Mars is about two thirds of the way towards that corner. It may show better if you click on the picture to see it larger.

Also noticeable was the amount of colour in the clouds.


Possibly ice crystals high in the atmosphere scattering the Moonlight. Some people have seen Moondogs, rainbow like streaks similar to Sundogs. See an example on the Spaceweather site HERE.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

A Tale of Two Coppers

I recently had to replace my whistling kettle. My old polka dot one had a whistle which, when boiling, rapidly increased in pitch until it was beyond my hearing. Unfortunately a few days ago I nodded off and didn't hear it. When I finally woke it was to the smell of singed metal. It had boiled dry and was well and truly blackened in the process. This is my nice, shiny, copper coloured replacement:


This one has a loud, strident whistle which I can hear.
I used to have an electric one which whistled as it switched itself off. Unfortunately the element gave up. When I replaced it the new one tainted the water with a strong 'plastic' taste, even after several boilings, so I went back to the type I could use on a gas ring.

The second copper of the week - a Small Copper Butterfly.

Small Copper Butterfly

Small Copper Butterfly

Since the very cold blast we suffered earlier in the year I haven't seen many butterflies, let alone those which stayed still long enough to photograph.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

A Darker Sky

Over the past few months our local authorities have been changing the orange sodium street lights to warm white LEDs to save on running costs. Of course any savings will really only start once the cost of new lamps and their installation has been recovered.

In my immediate area some lamps are maintained by Lincolnshire County Council.  The remainder by East Lindsey District Council. How long they stay on at night depends on who owns them and where they are. Along my lane they are owned by ELDC and stay on all night. In the small estate immediately behind me they are owned by LCC and switch off about midnight. Another money saving venture.

 LED Street Lights

Those along the main street belong to LCC. As far as I can tell they operate all night.

One advantage of this change is due to the design of the lamp housing and LEDs. They concentrate the light downwards with little, if any, escaping upwards. When I looked out of my kitchen window at night there used to be an orange glow in the sky from light spillage. Now the sky looks dark, especially after midnight.

 LED Street Lamps

Estate lamp at the top, main street lamp at the bottom.

These changes coincided with an interesting, to me, edition of The Sky at Night broadcast last Saturday. (I still miss Patrick Moore and rarely watch the latest presenters) This programme was about spotting and monitoring meteors and asteroids. Of interest to me was a short section about automatic photo and video recording 'shooting stars'. Something I have long wanted to have a go at but not bothered about with the amount of local light pollution. Now it may well be worth a coat of looking at. Mentioned in the programme was the UK group UKMON. Their website seems a good starting point for information on this subject.

A well waterproofed housing looks the first problem as most are designed to be angled below the horizontal. They may not be so efficiently water proofed when angled upwards. Seems like a job for the hot melt glue gun. Then it will need some 12V heating to clear any condensation which forms on cold nights.

I have an old but reasonable quality b/w video camera.


The main problem will be how to divide any recorded video into easily viewed sections. I don't fancy scanning through single nightly files with several hours continuous recording attempting to spot a possible 2 second streak of light. I have a spare DVR (digital video recorder) which can record moving objects by detecting changes in contrast in any part of the image.  Not sure its detecting ability is good enough or fast enough to spot a shooting star though. Plenty to research and experiment with as the dark nights lengthen.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Monday Montage

Last week's WidsMob Montage modified photo was

Montage 37

Correctly identified as


a wheelie bin / dustbin by Adrian, Wilma, Ragged Robin and The Weaver of Grass

Now for this week's montage

Montage 39

If you know what it is or would like to have a guess then please leave your answer in the comments.
They will be revealed, along with the original photo, next Monday.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Comma Butterfly

There was just one solitary Comma among the scores of wasps on my Ivy today

Comma Butterfly

Friday, 14 September 2018

Of UFOs and Visiting Aliens

I have been watching two fascinating series of programmes on the free Blaze channel on Freesat.

One (Ancient Aliens) is a series about various theories that early civilizations were visited and helped by visitors from another world. Not a theory I readily subscribe to but there have always been questions at the back of my mind about some ancient building works undertaken, some thousands of years ago.  From Stonehenge to the Egyptian and South American pyramids somehow ancient civilizations were able to move hundreds of tremendous blocks of stone weighing anything from 0.5 to 15 tons (or is that tonnes). Not just transporting them several miles but then lifting some high up on various structures. There are massive and sometimes strange ancient stone structures and buildings in many countries around the World.  Intriguing that so much large building work was undertaken by so many different civilizations in the past when populations were smaller than now, available tools primitive by modern standards and much time and 'manpower' must have been needed just providing everyday necessities such as food for the general population.

The other series (Hangar 1: The UFO Files) is examining thousands of files which record sighting of UFOs and several reports of crashed UFOs which have been kept secret. 'Witnesses' reporting that they have been pressurised to keep silent. There are far more of these than I ever realised.

One episode told of a craft which crashed in Texas in 1897.  It was reported in the local paper including noting that a body found with the craft was 'not of this world'. The body was buried locally and a tombstone erected. When investigators applied for permission to exhume the body it was refused on the grounds it was on consecrated ground. If interested there is some more information here.

Recently I read a report that an astronomical observatory in New Mexico has been closed down suddenly and taken over by the FBI with no explanation being given and refusals to answer any questions. Report is here.

The more governments try to keep the lid on certain activities the more people will assume there is something untoward going on they don't want us to know about.

I have experienced one phenomenon which was very startling at the time. About 25 years ago I was driving home one dark, wet, stormy night after a 'meet the parents' evening at school. While driving along a narrow country road I saw a bright orange glowing ball which was hovering maybe 20 feet above the ground. It hovered for a while in a field next to a group of trees and then shot straight upwards, still glowing. Unfortunately I was approaching some sharp bends round a wooded area so didn't see what finally happened to it.  I've always put it down as being a ball of glowing plasma. Something which apparently can occur sometimes during electrical storms. There have been reports and the occasional video of such things moving horizontally or rapidly changing direction.

From Wikipedia:
Ball lightning is an unexplained and potentially dangerous atmospheric electrical phenomenon. The term refers to reports of luminous, spherical objects that vary from pea-sized to several meters in diameter. Full text is here.
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