Saturday, 24 January 2015

Dear diary - nothing happened today

I have not blogged for some weeks and feel I ought to post something, but nothing much has happened since Christmas, so I will just post some pictures I like. I say nothing much has happened; the most significant event has been my ancient Amaryllis has flowered once more. It is now well into its thirties and still going strong.

When we were in Cumbria I took this sunset photo of the wind farm out to sea off Walney.

 I recently posted this picture below on FaceBook for one of my cousins who was hoping for snow and who likes trains. It was taken by my late brother-in-law when he was in the USA, where he was on a train spotting tour.

 He went all over the world looking for steam and produced crates of photos on 35mm film. I have only kept a few of those that I particularly like.

This picture is one of his, of a rather unusual machine in South Africa. It seems to have been converted from a standard car to run on the rails. No doubt a kind of runabout for the railway company staff who need to get to a particular section of track without using a full sized engine.  If you look closely, the steering wheel is still there.  Something to hang on to I suppose.

Next are a few pictures of things in flight.

This dove is just coming into land on a roof at Snowshill Manor in Gloucestershire.

The GoodYear blimp often found at air shows and such in the 1970s/80s.  This picture was taken at the Rolls Royce airfield at Leavsden during an airshow.  The site is no longer an airfield, but one part now hosts the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter exhibition.

Some starlings preparing to roost for the night
 Some ancient history here.

An advert from 1965. 
 You could freely  advertise cigarettes then, even though it had been known since the 1930s that there was a link to cancer.

Going back a bit, this rather scratched negative shows the M1 motorway a few weeks after it opened in 1959.  Not too busy, only two lanes and no centre barrier.

World War  Two and they had Mars bars back then.  It must have been a winning idea to last so long.  The ad does not mention points, so this must have been before they started rationing.  The bar looks a lot more chunky than modern ones. Two and a half d is one penny in modern currency.

 Finally, a clue as to where I live.  A road junction that causes panic and fear to strangers trying to navigate  the streets of my home town.

It was originally named the County Road Roundabout, but due to popular usage, by the bewildered townsfolk, it was renamed to The Magic Roundabout. Once you know how to use it it is very easy to negotiate, but for first time users it is a nightmare.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Out with the old and in with the new.

Happy New Year everyone.  It is still new although I a bit am late with my greeting.
I am quite exited, I have recently upgraded my old six inch with a newer eight inch and I am very pleased with it. Once mounted, it knows exactly where to point and even talks to me. Should I want to look at Uranus, it simply whirls around and finds the exact location all by itself.

I hope no one got the wrong impression about what I am saying, it is of course a new Meade telescope with Light Switch technology. That means, it finds out exactly where it is by GPS and then finds a few stars it knows should be visible and quite quickly it is all set for me to do a bit of amateur astronomy. The only trouble is it has rained solidly ever since it arrived. Whatever happened to all those clear frosty January nights we once knew?
I bought my old six inch telescope over seventeen years ago and whilst it was a state of the art design of 1668, which is still used virtually unchanged to this day. That one was huge, being around four foot long with a massive support and counterbalance to keep it aligned. It came in a coffin sized wooden box, which took care of all the storage space in one of our built in wardrobes when not in use.

My new one is more compact being a much more modern Schmidt - Cassegrain design and whilst it has a larger optical mirror, it is much smaller in every other respect and will allow some clothes to be hung in the wardrobe as well as keeping the telescope out of the way when I am not using it. The old one required a lot of preparation and guesswork to find and view anything in the night sky, but was brilliant for looking at the moon in close detail. With my new one I hope to be able to see more deep space objects such as galaxies and so on. Obviously nothing I can afford to buy can compete with what is constantly being seen by modern professional observatories, but it is still awe inspiring to look at the sky through something a bit more powerful than a pair of binoculars.