Archive | October 2008

University of Birmingham Campus Photos

I took a couple of photos of the University campus over the last couple of days, its been pretty gorgeous….
tree and joe (the clocktower)..
the moon, bird and joe…
joe and the moon

Planets at the University Observatory

Whilst I was testing out the setup (for spectroscopy) at the University of Birmingham observatory last week I got a few minutes to point the telescope at Jupiter. Now the problem with Jupiter with a large and very sensitive telescope is that it is rather bright, but I’m pleased to say that you can nicely see the Galilean satellites even if no detail is viewable on Jupiter…
Around this time last year I also took a quick snapshot of Neptune… which I’m very proud of but only just got around to posting it… (its the bright object in the centre)

DS9 in Ubuntu

One of my most used tasks in my daily life as an astronomer is [DS9], yes it has a geeky name, but its a darn solid piece of software. I recently decided that I wanted to use it on my Ubuntu machine at home (I quite often just use it over the network from my wok machine) and I have to say I was pleased to find it in the standard repositories, so a simple:
sudo apt-get install saods9
(at the commandline, of course) got it running and then a simple “ds9” from then onwards has me running it… great! biggrin.gif

Sticky Tape generates X-rays

This sounds really weird but it also appears to be correct. Researchers at the University of California have reported in Nature today that by opening a reel of tape in a vacuum they are able to take an x-ray image of a finger. But how? It appear that the radiation is released when tape is ripped from a surface. For more take a look at []

Sunset over the University

Back last Thursday we had a glorious sunset over the the campus here at the University of Birmingham, I tried to capture it but it was a lot more spectacular in person…

Living in the Sun’s atmosphere

Last night we had a rather fascinating talk here at the University of Birmingham by Dr Lucie Green (of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL) all about the Sun. She described in great detail how we have more questions about the Sun than answers and showed some quite marvellous images of the large magnetic structures on the surface of the Sun and how this effects us here on Earth. The Sun produces huge and powerful eruptions called coronal mass ejections, which throw masses of charged particles into space with explosive force. Some of these inevitably reach the Earth, creating beautiful aurora in the polar skies, but also with the potential to wreak havoc with our telecommunications and electricity networks. Here is an image of one of the largest solar flares on record (an X20 xray flare):
solar flare
At 21:51 UT, Monday 2 April 2001, active region 9393 unleashed a major solar flare. Now reclassified as at least an X20. Credit: SOHO
The talk was part of our very successful tea, talk and telescope programme, for more information check out [our website].

The Moon from my flat

I’m still not quite sure about living in a high rise… but to be honest it does offer some great views of the landscape…

Installing Xbox Media Center on Ubuntu

I’ve wanted to be able to control my media collection on my Xbox 360 for a while and I wasn’t sure of a good way of doing this without M$ Windows… but now I’ve come across: – seems to work well….

How to: Create an ISO with ubuntu

Have a CD that you can’t be bothered to constantly boot up? Or just to make a nice backup of a directory… then you can make an image of it. In Ubuntu this is rather easy at the commandline:
For folders all you have to do is:
mkisofs -r -o file.iso /location_of_folder/
and don’t forget to make a checksum:
md5sum file.iso > file.iso.md5
For CD’s this is a bit complicated and you can do:
sudo umount /dev/cdrom dd if=/dev/cdrom of=file.iso bs=1024
Of course you could use graphical tools like Braserio.