Category: Astronomy

Below the Surface (by )

Alaric discovered this amazing website Below the Surface. This is a fusion of maintaining environments, urban upkeep, archeology, social out reach and art!

Cataloguing all the finds from the river Amstel in Amsterdam during train line works they have built up an amazing image archive showing the depths and ages of the objects, you can explore this catalogue, find out things about the civil engineering around the project and create your own displays with the finds that catch your interest.

This is all free and on line - the internet is starting to have these little lovely treasure troves of sites. This was what I envisioned the Internet being used for. For me though this project is tinged with a "could have been" here in Gloucester something like this was created back in the early days of the Internet and had the scholars and volunteers and council members enthused and then... it basically got unplugged and lost (early days of the internet I did say - things were different in those call up days!).

Many museums and research institutes are also putting their photo archives on line - Below the Surface how ever is a lovely smooth and easily searchable interface which is slightly more unusual!

There are over 700, 000 finds and the time periods spanned is more than written history - it is an awesome resource!

SmashFest Photos (by )

Back in the autumn we took part in SmashFest Earth and Sky Tour when it came to Gloucester Library. It was an amazing day with lots and lots of people - so many that I we began to run out of our Space Craft supplies so that was more than I typically get through at a whole weekend of music festival!

As Cuddly Science we had a fantastic time and my new asteroid impact simulator went down very well as did the paper mΓ’chΓ© volcanoes!

Here is the SmashFest Flickr account with some cute pics of Mary etc... hidden in and amongst it all and maybe the rest of us as well πŸ™‚ Mary had her rainbow coat.

Ada Lovelace Day 2017 – Dr Rebecca Wilson (by )

Today is Ada Lovelace Day - an annul celebration of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), named after the Victorian mathematician and visionary Ada Lovelace.

Each year we try to do a little write up on women who have inspired us in the sciences. There are many entries for previous years - in fact later today I am going to make a special category for them all πŸ™‚

This year I have chosen my friend Dr Rebecca Wilson.

Broken lift

Rebecca started off in Geology studying at Imperial College's Royal School of Mines, where she not only excelled in her own studies but helped me with some of the more advanced GeoChemistry elements, lending books and explaining things in multiple ways.

She was part of the posse that went with me to the Natural History Museum London to get work experience and helped me get into the meteoritics department. A PhD at the Planetary and Space Science Institute looking for organic material in micrometeorites.

She went on to post doc and research and science outreach at Leicester University and the associated Space Centre. During this time she developed some pretty awesome out reach kits. Those that can be available to the public/teachers are downloadable here.

Rebecca also won an science journalism internship which took her to Ireland, she has in fact been all over the globe studying, researching and presenting.

She has side stepped into medical data visualisation realm where she is pushing the frontiers of science ever forwards as well as highlighting the issues of accessibility on her various travels.

Rebecca has rubbed shoulders with the top people in both space and planetary science as well as within the deep data computering spheres not to mention the odd science communicator such as Brian Cox! Becca he is highly versatility and extremely dedicated and she is also a hell of a lot of fun to be around πŸ™‚

She was even chosen by Jean for a school project on role models and heros!

Celestia and Watching the Night (by )

Celestia the Telescope

Thankyou so much to everyone who gave Alaric and Jean money towards the telescope at Christmas. It has arrived!!!! We put it together last night. The actual telescope arrived a few days ago but we couldn't really do much other than play with the finder scope looking out at Robins Wood Hill through my attic window - which was of course all upside down!

This was because the tripod had not yet arrived but it arrived yesterday πŸ™‚

It's the kind that bounces light around inside of itself and is kind of the biggest a beginner should get.

Jean and Al have been very excited about it and I was being reserved though I have dug out lots of my old astronomy mags and what have you but I kept reminding myself it was theirs and not mine. Turns out it is also for me and Mary πŸ˜€ With our January birthdays!!!!!

Mary loves the thing!

Mary meets Celestia the Telescope

Infact both kids pretty much rushed straight over to this morning when they saw it sadly I don't think we are going to get to play on it tonight as it is currently thick fog here.

We are going to make a case for it with good made to fit holes in padding because we are going to be bundling it into the van and going up into various bits of the cotswolds!

Al and Jean made sure there was a camera mount so I can take my "arty" photos as Jean has started to call them (whilst looking down her nose at me!). Sadly my camera doesn't fit - also said camera is rubbish at low light levels as in REALLY bad. It is an amazing camera and takes magnificent photos of animals in broad daylight - which is what it was bought for, but low light... just kind of no. I'm sure it's me and I should read the manual or something.

And.... I want to look at the moon, Jean is interested in stars, Mary wants to look at the smoke (nebulea) and Alaric... I think is looking forward to motorising it and linking it to computers and stuff but that is a guess.

Local peeps are already interested in a starparty but we need to work out how to use the thing first!!!

Getting a camera that fits is high priority for me, Alaric reckons we can 3D print and adapter, which might be a waste of time with the low light stuff. However my friend reminded me that some amazing photos have been taken by smart phones including iphones that are the model before mine so that is an option as well though again is going to need an adaptor of some kind.

Thinking of my friends who have and are working with the large observatories and how they will no doubt laugh at our enthusiasm for our little Celestia. But I'll remind them of this when they have to go out to break the icilces off their huge one πŸ˜‰

Mary loves the telescope

Lastly I am getting myself some new make-up, I was tempted by it anyway as it is all on sale reduced from £6 to like £1.50. The nail vanish is called eclipse and the perfume midnight and then there's galatic glitter and so on... And well they match the telescopes glittery finish so I can match the telescope!!!

Yes yes I know shhhhhh.

sparkly finish on the telescope

A Mix of Things (by )

Today has been lovely and annoying, destructive and creative in turn.

Mary Elf and the Tinsel Dragon Cat have been up to shinanigans - I wonder which of them decided to poo on the table cloth this morning - the nice white one with shiny white flowers on it that snags easily that my aunt bought us? I assume it was the cat, it smelt like cat - I was not happy but here they are being cute - the sequence will be storyfied never you fear.

The tinsel dragon cat beckons

The Tinsel Dragon Cat was lonely and felt quiet rightly that it did not have enough tinsel so it called to the Mary Elf, a little rainbow of a thing that hopes here and there and everywhere and never EVER stops talking.

Mary Elf attends the Tinsel Dragon Cat

The Mary Elf attended the great Tinsel Dragon who was once again in it's most comfitable of guises as the young cat Lithium. Mary Elf listened with care to the instructions of the Tinsel Dragon Cat.

Mary Elf and Tinsel Dragon Cat plan their mischeif

The instructions where simple... go forth and fetch all the tinsel that abounds across this fair and mighty land and bring it back for a snuggly bed was to be crafted.

So the Mary Elf went and had many adventures over great lakes that others called puddles and scoured vast deserts of "the super market", onward the little rainbow bounce trekked until the was a montain to scale of stairs scattered with toys which she had to tidy.

Until she bought home much tinsel for the Tinsel Dragon Cat to sleep upon. So pleased was the dragon in it's guise as little Lithium the pusskin that with paw and claw Mary Elf was Knighted most valiant in all the land of Front Room. There was much rejoicing.

Tinsel Dragon Cat anoints Sir Elf Mary

The End

But not of our day. Unwanted turd cleaned up Al's cousins turned up and we did presents and things and had tea and headed out for a lovely greek meal in Gloucester Docks.

The Snell Cousins Visit for Christmas Cheer

Except our car wouldn't start - this has increasingly been an issue we need to take the battery out and top it up (or that was our first thought anyway). So we headed out in the van after we'd moved all the tents and greenpeace signs I picked up at the wood recylcing project to turn into something for the garden - if we ever get stopped by the police (happens a lot when you drive a van) then we might have trouble convincing them that we are not militant activists or something!!!

The meal was lovely though Mary did not like the octipus tentical that was served up to one of our number - she loves octipi and talks to them when she sees them. She almost tried a prawn.

I felt guilty that all the presents we handed over where home made and embarassed that the scarf and hat that glow in light where knitted using the looms and not just on needles - I kind of feel it's cheating but I am getting neat results with the looms and still struggling about with needle knitting.

I got a lovely wooden bowl.

I hear there is a computer game and things too and Mary is excited about knitting the little mouse that is her present πŸ™‚

The resturant we were aiming for was actually closed so we ended up the opposite side of town to where we had parks, there was a cunning plan of Al and Maurice getting the car and van and picking us up. It went abit haywire as plans often but all was well with a bit of twoing and throwing.

We said goodbye and headed back home, it was getting dark, the sun set was a beautiful striation across of the city and sea scape of the dock, I failed to take a photo I'm not sure why.

There were swans.

Our car was clicking and clicking and clicking and clicking when we got home, it had been locking and unlocking itself continously whilst we had been out. Roll on car madness involving origami, welding and drinking straws.

The moon was a finger nail sliver and venus (I think) was bright and garish.

The cresant and venus

I used Jean's head as a camera stand. I also had to help her with her homework by taking photos of her in posses from some famous artist. His drawings look like Mary's, no honestly they do!

Back to fixing the car... we needed to take the battery out but a terminal cover was needed and there wasn't one on the battery so origami came to the rescue!!!!

origami terminal cover

I am so proud of this that you are going to see it in action from three different angles!

terminal cover origami

It was to stop accidental contact and sparkage!

Folded paper rescue for battery removal

It is folded from half a page from a very old and battered copy of an Enid Blighton book. It was beyond salvage and has been used in three different craft projects and now fixing a car.

The contacts were all pretty corroded - enough that I am wondering if that is part of the problems we've been having. We have like a spare jump start battery - the car reset itself with that and stopped the damn clicking which must have been driving our poor neighbours made as it was outside their window πŸ™

The fault also left the car basically unlocked, there was only really some loom knitting and survival tools and some cuddlies and colouring in books of the girls in the car but still I'm sure we would be grumpy if they got stolen!

Turns out there's a battery bracket/brace with a slightly inaccessible bolt.

I held the torch and after accidently getting Imperial and Metric round the wrong way Al got his long bolt undoing tool firmly in place and turned, all locked home and good seeming there was a crunch and then the thing went round and around.... because the force had broken it :/

The bolt had not moved.

Other tools where got but would not fit or reach etc...

Queue the welding and adapting of a screw driver to make an undoing of the bolt tool. The new belt sander I got Al for Christmas was also used, the go pro failed to record sadly so there will be no funky video πŸ™

battery getting out tool

He tried it... it needed further adapting.

A sad a resigned Alaric holding the improvised tool he's just had to make

And again. He was resigned and cold.

battery getting out tool mk2

Back out in the ice he went and... the damn thing broke and the bolt was still firmly in place.

Kids fed and in bed, we ate our Christmas pudding - it's a gluten free one so it fell to pieces but we had some special brandy butter and it was nice and warm and filling.

We decided to add penetrating oil but the reason we had not already done this is that the little tube for getting into narrow spaces was not long enough so a drinking straw had to be used to extend it so that we could actually get the oil down to the bolt. A special tool will have to be got to get the battery out. We used the jumpstart battery to lock the doors and packed up for the night. School run in the van which will be interesting as car share kid has a broken leg so will need help getting in and out πŸ™

But it should be possible, other down side is that Al will have to pay for parking as the free carpark for his new job has a height restriction (£8 a day and it obv. ates fuel).

He is now PC minecrafting it to calm down.

I've been doing more origami...

folding paper

This is what I mostly made πŸ™‚

Muse Monster Book Corners or origami bookmarks

Muse Monster Book Corners or origami bookmarks, they are a variant on the hats I used to fold out of newspaper πŸ™‚

I am making them to go with The Monster Blog Zines and Wiggly Pet publications that I make. They will be making a debut at the Ok True Believers Comic Book Festival in Cheltenham this Feb.

And then I wrote this post.

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