Category: Astronomy

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 🙂

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 😀 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 😉

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 🙂

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 🙁

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 🙁

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 🙁

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 🙂

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 🙂

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.

Happy New Year 2017 (by )

New Years Resolutions and Goal Setting Jar

The new day dawned on the new year and we were all still snoozing in our nests of clean bedding. We'd changed the lining so we would have clean sheets for the new year - symbolic.

We had a lovely night last night with wish stars and fire and The Rats of Nim, and there are photos which I hope to get around to sharing.

Today we got up at 12, lunch time. And made our resolution and goal setting jar. We burnt our wishes last night so that they could fly free (plus I can never shake the idea that burnt things go to heaven - this idea got lodged in my head at 7 yrs of age when my nan died and was cremated I would make her things and cut them up and burn them so they could go up to heaven for her - I got very distressed when I realised a lot of rubbish got burnt!).

We each picked a colour and then cut A4 paper in that colour into 8 (some of us used more than one sheet some of us less), we wrote the resolutions and how we are planning to carry them out, we wrote goals and little action plans, Mary mostly drew hers. We then rolled them up, popped a loom band round and dropped them in the jar. Some of them we shared and some we didn't, for ones that are secret "Don't Read" was placed as a label on the rolled up scroll.

There are extra sheets in the four different colours plus a little bag containing pencils and loom bands in the top of the jar. The jar is huge and once contained stuffed olives - it still smells vaguely of garlic but that is being seen as a feature. We plan to keep the jar highly visable so as not to forget and to help keep the pace up and also we aim to review the contence at the equinoxes and solstices and any other time we think it appropriate. Again this is to keep momentum up.

Mary saw me knock a leek down that was waiting for composting as we ended up with ALOT of leeks this year. This lead to a humourous half hour of word play about me leaking on the floor and at one point calling Jean down from upstairs to help clean up Mary's leeks as she'd leaked all over the downstairs of the house 🙂

The Leeks of Summoning

Jean rolled her eyes and then giggled and then proceeded the Leek Summoning or nest building as the demi-deamond Mookie Moo (Mary) called the leek construction. I pointed out to Alaric that they had gotten lots of things for Christmas and what was it they were playing with? Shrivelled up leeks. There were arguments over how many sides there should be, Jean said 5 Mary said 6 we pointed out that traditionally it is 7 or on the discworld 8. Like all good kids they ignored us and continued with their game which was actually two separate games but hey they were playing co-opratively with each other - something both of them had put down as a resolution.

Mary in her nest of leeks

Then we went off to the cinema to watch Newt Scaramanga unleash havoc on New York - Mary cried when we said we were going to the cinema to watch a Harry Potter movie, she wanted to watch Frozen there if we had to go and why couldn't we watch it at home? She cheered up once she found it was not one of the films we had at home even though we had explained that multiple times on route!

Me and Jean are of the opinion that Newt looks like Matt Smith if he'd been turned into a shop manikin and then back into a human - weirdly melted.

I have no idea what happened in the fight scenes as I had to hide from them but yeah no slurred speech just slightly tingly arms and a bit of virtigo! 🙂

There were tears today - mine as I feel short changed by the universe and also like I have no right to feel like that... I was ill and stuff as a kid with blood transfusions and walking aids and hearing and speech issues etc... but I thought I'd grown out of it, I thought I'd grow up big and strong and then I was grown up and I tried to do the stuff you need to be big and strong to do.... I failed. Alaric asked me what I'd invisioned myself doing as a grown up and so I told him... climbing mountians, deep sea diving, exploring... maybe even going to space.

I find it hard to let go of dreams. I wanted to find new things and explore. He says you can do this without physically going and picking up rocks, I say I know I tried that but the physical location of labs in some institutions meant I couldn't get into them or it was exhusting to do so and it was still the consolation prize and I still failed at it. He reckons there is new stuff everywhere to find, I'm having trouble seeing that - I said the closest I get these days in writing my novels, notice the mary-sues or janes or what ever they are called of sick people designing exo-skeletons or waldos or other to get around physical issues???

And having said all this I am probably the fittest and healthiest I have ever been bar my brain not working properly... oh the irony it's always something...

And I am lucky, I am alive, I have explored things, this summer I got to go to South Africa, I got to see whales, I've always wanted to see whales!!! I got to read the landscape and talk to people who helped end apartied, I got to see the southern hemi-sphere for the second time in my life. That is amazing, that is more than most of the earths population, I have a big house and kids in amazing schools, I have a hubby who doesn't hate me for keep getting ill or sick or injuried. Who is my best friend.

I have friends, friends who have not abandoned me when my brilliance of mind was dulled, friends who did not run away though none of us can be there always because we all have lives and that is a two way street, a cyclic thing, they helped when they could, and we have done the same, we've stopped each other from drowning.

So I am a ball of confused emotions, the more better I get from the head injury the more frustrating I am finding the issues it has left me with but I am also amazed at what I have.

Maybe next year my Christmas can be filled with sparkling lights again - I miss them but if I can't have them then I can do what we've done this year and just ask people to visit us and have events here.

After a year of multiple redundencies Alaric has a good job and we are even looking at getting a car!

Life is good, our plans are solid, we are almost where we thought we'd be 10 yrs ago 🙂

The coming year will be full of creating and making and videos of much of it as they are easier than big junks of writing at the moment and serve almost the same purpose!

Also Salaric Craft and How To blogs have just had their tenth Christmas so you will be seeing a lot of stuff to do with that, and the Wiggly Pets blog was set up in the summer of 2007 so prepare for more zines and photo stories and the like!

I like acting - I know I've come to this conclusion late in the day but I did an advert and the Fright House stuff, in 2015 I did a music vid and docu-drama. I'm not sure how to get more of this sort of stuff but I will be looking!

Alaric needs to get time to work on his projects - he has stuff that humanity needs... most of his time "off" ie redundent got taken up with infrastructure stuff in the house/server migration.

2017 here we come!

Apparently there will be stargazing and photography 🙂

Blood Red Super Moon (by )

Blood Red Super Moon

I photographed - the camera is broken, I got the kids up for about 20 mins when it was looking good, Jean appreciated it, Mary seemed confused, I hope I got some good shots but... meh camera is broken.

The Solar Eclipse and Education Fails (by )

Solar Eclipse Gloucestershire UK 2015

Friday morning saw me and many other people outside for the solar eclipse - these are rare events. It was not a full eclipse and I have a busted camera so my photos are not brilliant.

Inversions and reflections

But I was happy and my kids were happy. Mary had learnt about it and made a projector thingy at pre-school and Jean's school had gone all out and have a telescopes and glasses and solar observing stuff. They both loved it and it was a big fantastic educational thing for them.

The eclipse through a defraction grating aka hello kitty sun

I on the other hand was in my back garden mucking about with defraction grating and seeing what funky photos I could take - it was a bit of a fail but I enjoyed myself. And accidently ended up with the above "hello kitty" sun much to Mary's delight.

However... that evening I discovered that this was not the case for most schools. To my horror I listened to other parents tell of how they were late to work in order to take their kids to observe the eclipse because the schools had said they could have until 10 am off to view it as long as it wasn't in the school play ground because.... Health and Safety reasons.

I. Kid. You. Not.

But that was the nice schools - turns out many of them did not even give this little concession to an event that could well be career forming within our younger population - and not just science/astronomy, artists like a good old eclipse too.

The more I listened to the parents groaning about this the more I got angry but not just at the education system that seems to have struck off such events as useful things for teachers but also at the individual schools for being so crass about the whole thing. To the parents who were too busy to notice - but I might well have been one of those, to myself and the science communication community.

I didn't worry about the eclipse I knew Jean's school had stuff planned and I wanted to attempt to take photos. It never occured to me that schools would not be doing stuff with the kids, there are universities and what not out there that I'm sure with a little work could have been galvinised into action and all schools could have watched the eclipse at least on the telly if the weather had been a complete fail.

I really can not fathom what was going through the head teachers heads to not set up something. At to this people getting annoyed with me for the fact that large science announcements they think should be major headline news... isn't. This is normal people not scientists, they kind of don't believe some of the recent discoveries because they are not splashed across the headlines but it is really difficult to get the main media outlet (TV, Radio, News Papers and Mags) to take stories at all, let alone give them headline coverage.

However non of this absolves me - I have cuddly science sitting up stairs and I have done nothing other than write another script for it since Jan and this episode has just proven to me how much stuff like it is needed. My main constraint is that I need money to run the workshops and get to the schools and stuff so kind of need paying and no one seems to want to pay and so I simply can not give my time as funnily enough going to events can end up costing you especially if they don't even want to give you expenses.

It is on the too sort list :/

It's even worse as I could have made projectors with the cub pack but thought all the schools would be doing that :/

If there are any teachers out there who want to give a voice as to why they chose not to run an event/observation morning - then please get in touch.

The sun Eclipse inversion rainbow arc Sun in the trainbow lines Sun and rainbow and eclipse Rainbow pincers Rainbow streaks Reflection in the glare Sun through the arc

Camera is broken is a way that means I can't use a tripod which is a right pain! Just click on the photos if you want to see them bigger.

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