Archive | November 2006

PMS Survival Tips

I came across this great video on youtube, had to share it… 🙂

PPARC Talk: David Gregory “Science in the Media”

The week before last the University of Birmingham Astronomical Society, whom I am Chair, hosted our 4th PPARC public lecture and our speaker was Dr David Gregory who is a science journalist. We had a very enjoyable talk and for publicity of the Uni we had the below photo, which I really like, taken:

I am on the left (with the messy hair), David is in the centre with the camera and Kym is on the right (Kym is the secretary of the society).

Space Junk

NASA tracks a good 10,000 pieces of crap in orbit..


It seems that humanity is as good at messing up space as it is the planet.
Read more [here].

A night at the observatory

On Saturday night I took astrosoc out to the Wast Hills observatory… the idea was to use the new 14″ telescope to take some images but alas the camera was not working, we however rectified this and managed to do some observing (a few pics are below). Since it was clear, almost the new moon, it was perfect conditions for observing the Leonids… and indeed we saw some. I saw probably the two most spectucalar meteors I have ever seen. One that looked like a fireball went through Orion causing a huge streak across the sky and the other on the opposite sky but travelling towards Leo. Wow! I also saw a couple of less spectacular but wonderful meteors. I have never seen anything from the Leonids before, so after about 10 years of trying this was a welcome sight. Yay!

Here are a few images we took:

The Horsehead nebula in Orion, 60secs exposure with an out of focus 14″ meade,

M31, the Andromeda Galaxy… a 60 second exposure throught a bg20 filter, hoping to get much better in the future. The dust lane is quite seeable.

60 seconds exposure of the Crabb nebula in Green… using a 14″ meade, better to come, I hope!

My Mugging experience…

I’m not sure this comes under news, but definetely current affairs….
At 22:20 last night I got mugged…. shame that as I really liked that phone. I was walking past somewhere on my own and a guy I had notice on the bus with what appeared blood on him had obviously followed me. Noticed my phone pulled out a knife and asked me for it. I reckon I could have took him but the state of him really put me off having a go. Well I decided that it was best to give him the phone (especially since he didn’t know I had my mac laptop and my ipod in my bag… feeling quite smug about that part to be honest). I did, however, make sure that he didn’t get away with my sim card… I told him you can have the phone but not my sim card I want that. Since he backed down on this I probably should have just gone at him but I thought again best not too and I was getting the thing that really mattered to me out of it all. So s**t happens. People are w**kers. Oh well… ruins my other perfect night… just gave a public talk about exoplanets in Kidderminster….

Around the campus…

The campus looked beautiful today when the autumn Sun shone through the somewhat light cloud cover…




Eddie’s Burns down!!! :-(

I can’t believe it, Eddie’s one of my fav clubs in Brum has burnt down… on a selfish note: there goes another place that doesn’t play rap shite. See: []

University of Birmingham in the November Sun

The Sun over aston webb building giving an eerie feel.. oh and notice the pulley in the foreground which is part of the old mechanism of the Grubb telescope

University of Birmingham main courtyard in the autumn


Grubb telescope refurbishment

The University of Birmingham Astronomical Society owns a Grubb telescope from 1872… we recently obtained funding to refurbish this wonderful piece. As I am the Chair of the society I’m quite involved in doing this… I will post a more detailed piece on the scope once all the work is done but here are a few pics of the current progress….


screw that holds the base to the roof has completely fallen apart


metal bits off the Grubb… Physics department and Guild of Students (the original site for the telescope) sit in the background


fine adjustement screws on the main column of the 1872 made base…

the more modern gear mechanism for our Grubb telescope mount


counterweights come off the telescope from 1872 for the first time in a while!

Edgbaston Fireworks Last Week

No Guy… no bonfire? No real celebration of this British event… instead some huge turtle and some lackluster fireworks. To say I was disapointed would be an underestimate. You would also think that they would know how to do crowd control instead of putting thousands of people through a very small gap, can’t have been more than 10ft wide! argh… anyway I did take a couple of pics (and a video see bottom of post):




Oh and I made a video, which I won’t embed this time, and you can see it at: []