Archive | January 2005

New names for Saturn’s moons…

The International Astronomical Union (IAU – has recently given names to some newly discovered objects orbiting around Saturn. It has also modified the names of a few (mostly spelling issues). The IAU are the only organisation that has the authority to name celestial objects, in other words beware of those star naming companies out there. Anyway before I start a rant on about that the new objects are:
Saturn XXXI Narvi = S/2003 S 1
Saturn XXXII Methone = S/2004 S 1
Saturn XXXIII Pallene = S/2004 S 2
Saturn XXXIV Polydeuces = S/2004 S 5
and the renamed are:
Saturn XXIII Suttungr = S/2000 S 12
Saturn XXVII Skathi = S/2000 S 8
Saturn XXX Thrymr = S/2000 S 7

Shopping trip = purchase of computer games

Late this afternoon me and my house mate, Andy (a.k.a. Geordie), went out to do some game shopping. What did we come back with? Well he got: Farcry, LOTR: Battle for middle earth (what I have seen is fantastic!) and Battlefield Vietnam. I went for a slightly cheaper option, still ended up quite expensive in the end! I picked up Gangsters 2 for

PPS Spring Ball

It is that time of the year.. ball time. Everything is sorted for Astrosoc and now so is PPS. I am rather looking forward to it. It is going to take place at Aston Villa Football Ground. My friend Tom came up with an excellent poster for it:

PPS Ball Poster

New Image Gallery

I have finally got around to putting a new image gallery online. I have meant to do this since i changed my site design since the previous gallery was not compatible with the features in xhmtl that I am using. Shame as I like that. It is currently still accessible at: but I don’t know how long I will leave this version online. It was powered by My Photo Gallery from fuzzymonkey. I am now using SPGM (Simple Picture Gallery Manager),, which is a decent bit of code and the beauty is that it does not need any database support. This would have been damn useful if I had found it when I was running the astrosoc website! I might even use it on the PPS website. To see my new gallery go to:

A Linux Distribution for Astronomy

At home I use a combination of Microsoft Windows XP and Mandrake (a linux distro). They are on different computers but I can control them from the same keyboard, mouse and monitor. Is actually quite good. I am able to play any game I wish in Windows and the do anything I want to do in Linux. Works quite well. I am always interested in new distributions of Linux in fact I was considering wiping mandrake and sticking on SUSE instead but changed my mind – too much effort. Today I came across a very interesting distribution of Linux. It is called Lin4Astro and has everything you could need to do webcam astronomy on in linux. I think it might be worth a try – especially since it boots of a CD and does not involve and install. If you want to take a closer look at it see: (note the homepage is in French this can easily be changed via the top right icon). Oh this distribution is based on Knoppix which is a live linux CD and is based on debian.

Tutorials in webcam astronomy

Even though I haven’t had the chance to do much webcam astronomy I have learnt quite a lot about it now. I cant wait to actually get chance to do it properly. We have the equipment at astrosoc so it might be feasible to do this there but I am looking forward to buying a new telescope and some sort of imaging device. Will probably buy one after my degree – even if I am doing a PhD I will have a bit more disposable cash to spend. Going back to the point of this post. As I said I have learnt a lot about webcam astronomy and I would encourage people to give it a go. It is a good option if you can’t afford a professional astronomical CCD – not sure many can. If you want to know more about how to use / what you can get from a webcam take a look at this page.

Virtual Wingman

Now this is one for the scared computer freak out there. Ever got a girls email addy and wanted to send her a message but needed some backup? (probably not!) If so what you need is the virtual wingman. Give it a try at: alternatively you could just email her or walk up to her and ask her out..

Another spectacular Comet Machholz picture

Want to see a wonderfully green comet with some clear dust trails? Take a look at and stare in amazement!

And so ends an era…

This is a picture of me and my old committee as we stepped down as the running body of astrosoc – what a scary bunch! (note: alex missing due to illness). Good luck to the new lot.

Astrosoc committee

Observing Aurora

After my close encounter with what I believed was aurora the other night (see: I decided to see what other sources of aurora notififaction was out there and a bit more info on how to take photographs etc. I am not a very good photographer but always like to give it a go. It turns out that my girlfriend has the perfect camera for this so if we ever see aurora again I will get her to have a go. On my trail across the web I came across a very useful page. It like the AuroraWatch site gives you local forecasts of auroral activity. The site is: