Tag Archives: night



Lucky, lucky.

The eclipse was prettiest as it began, golden and low to the horizon:

Overexposed on the idiot iPhone held up to an eyepiece, but it caught the earthshine:

Better camera, better image; some time near maximum:

The last shot of the night, as the umbra moved off the disc:

(Three taken through a reflecting telescope, so the images are flipped).

Things to do when you can’t sleep: lxxvi


lxxvi  :  Medicate

And while you are about it, you might as well try to see a total lunar eclipse, wearing all your outdoor clothes indoors, in deference to the huge viral and bacterial load.

The penumbral phase was indiscernible, the moon’s brightness varying too much with the passing clouds.  Once the umbra began to bite the edge of the disc, however, it was possible to see the shadow line move, and, in a few better moments, the coppery red of the shaded segment shone out.

It’s not the same through glass, and it’s not the same through clouds, but a better way to pass a small hour than mere medication.

Next stop Nodghams


Rumbling through the black back roads on an unfamiliar bus route: the night made strange.

Next stop Pump Lane.

Occasionally some bright windows or a pub sign or a poster of alpacas flickered by.

Next stop Dodpits.

For once technology was welcome, reading out the names of each increasingly remote location in the back of beyond.

Next stop Throstles.

A few strings of Christmas lights, in more or less questionable taste, appeared and disappeared randomly.

Next stop Sixpenny Corner.

The screen suddenly became dark; falling off the edge of reception?  This left me trying to guess the bus’s location by how steep the hill or how sharp the corner might be.

Pinging the bell; walking behind a circle of light to the silent house; supping on jaffa cakes; retiring with someone else’s book.

This morning another bus, mystery resolved in daylight, foam blowing backwards off the breakers.  Another quiet house, and as I revised kitchen cupboards a sort of recognition crept over me: the Mole and his sad little tin of sardines.  And Christmas was imminent then too.  Only for reasons nothing to do with me, my cupboard contains only seventeen tins of tuna.

No Ratty though.

Proper season


Eyes ahead past the nefarious persons standing sentry at each end of the underpass.

The yellows are fine this year, picking up luminously as the small torch passed,

accumulating into drifts here and there.

Death always draws a line, and, with spectacular symbolic timing, Fluffers’ death has drawn a long one.



The moon was nearly full last night; just enough shadowed terminator to reveal some craters.

Considering that the photos were taken by a phone being held up in the vague direction of a cheap refractor, they weren’t too bad.  I couldn’t capture a complete moon image through the 25mm eyepiece, because the phone couldn’t cope with the glare.  The shorter eyepiece gives a less bright segment that the camera could manage, but the sweet spot in the 10mm eyepiece is a bit limited.

Pythagoras is the one with the peak; Sinus Iridium and Plato show up well given that they have no defining shadows:

Inghirami is a good name for a crater (its floor in shadow and tucked in behind Schickard) and I don’t think I have ever identified it before.  Grimaldi and Hevelius are further north.  Again, without shadows I am surprised that Tycho wasn’t just one flat glare:


Four in a row


The seeing was terrible: darkness barely falls, and the sky is thick with heat, cloud and muck.  Nonetheless the new refractor let me peer out.

First there was Venus, dropping into the trees but showing a fattish phase; then Jupiter, which graciously allowed me to watch Europa being occulted behind it; then Saturn, rings wide open, with Titan just visible; and at last Mars, almost at opposition but so low it was just a big orange fuzzball.

I’ve seen them all better; but this is a moment to enjoy seeing them at all.

Well that was busy


After significant wrestling with rugs, curtains, windows, tables, books, boxes, bargains, shoes, and incoming parcels, we got to the serious stuff.

This included corporate creativity in order to adjust the fascinator with two pairs of heavy duty pliers and superglue (a treasurable experience)

and discovering that we female rellies from far-flung places had instinctively colour-co-ordinated ourselves.

The view from the back of the portaloos was the best I have ever seen from a lavatory (the other aspects were good too) and strop didn’t seem to break out until later.  All good.

Meantime, writing a level 7 assignment with the other foot … yes, that worked.  Writing is agony, but here is a keeper (especially since I discovered that St Menas may have won the Battle of El Alamein):

It was lonely without the sky so in a heavily symbolic act … I may have overbought.  It came today,

and I have been using the cathedral spire to align the red dot finder.  Can’t see the spire?  The scope can.  In fact it can count each red warning light and the knobs on the cross on top.

But can it see anything else?  Naturally, the moon is rising behind a band of high cloud and has turned itself into a gigantic fuzzball.  Isn’t astronomy wonderful?

I ought to be feeling five years younger


and possibly five pounds lighter, but at present it’s more a case of inward niggles, wondering which typo or howler has made it through the proof-reading.  There has to be at least one. Also worrying slightly about the jokes.

Always risky, jokes.  But once I had had the eating weasels rule pointed out to me, the Epistle of Barnabas just had to go in.  And once the Epistle of Barnabas was in, one might as well have Warwick the Kingmaker as well (“Are you Edmund Mortimer?  If not, have you got him?”)  And then somehow The Sorrows of Werther crept into the general stirabout.

It may have been injudicious.  I carefully remind myself:  who cares what THEY think?