Category: Astronomy

New Years and Slither Moons (by )

Moon, Birds and Morning Star

It is the 7th of January and not the 1st - this year I specifically didn't push myself to blog, post, reply to emails or even write in my diary. The intensity and exhaustion of Christmas meant that I wanted and needed to spread things out. So that is what we have done.

New Years Day we did our walk to welcome the New Year - something I did not manage last year and that too is ok. It was a dreary dark day but there was fire and lights and beautify in the glome. I have already formulated some of the pictures into a twitter poem. And will hopefully get around to posting all the worthy pics - a lot are blurry due to light levels but are keepers due to the compositions and thoughts had whilst taking them!

For know here are the embedded tweets:

Then I woke on the 2nd to crippling period and a beautiful down of moon slither, morning star (Venues) and birds flying here there and everywhere. I wish it was a better picture but it was a grab and snap before camera battery died with no time for tripods. The image was stark and dynamic, ancient and new and I felt I needed to capture it as a memory.

2018 was an up and down year with AMAZING things like the Aethelflead Festival and being involved with so many festivals and activities - finding out about family history etc... but it was also HORRENDOUS with miscarriage aftermath, another miscarriage, deaths of family members and hospitalisations of others - friends going through hard times and feeling powerless to help - this is the double edged sword of being from a large extended family and having so many wonderful friends. There is much love but also lots of pain - I can't and wouldn't choose not to love or care but sometimes it downs you.

I got to do more acting in 2018 and would like to do more of that in 2019, I also made and created lots of things but didn't complete stuff that should have been completed - not sure if that can be remedied in the coming year - all I can do is try. Already having ideas to try out.

There will be a big push for the publishing and writing side of what I do in the coming year. There are several large projects that have been simmering on back burners that will hopefully get to bloom (mix those metaphors baby!).

But I am not tying the year down to have toos because I can't and it if I try it will just lead to misery. I have put on a lot of weight this last year - I am attempting to shift it - it may take a while it might not be doable but general fitness I can try and sort. I just wish I had more energy in the first place - there is so much I want to do and feel stifled by the restrictions. Jean is helping me - there is apparently an app for everything. Already seen how much my periods affect my strength which was interesting - it was very marked.

Attempting less Facebook but more blogging, twitter, Pinterest etc... I really don't like FB but am tied to it but the fact that many people only interact/contact me via it. I will probably fail at this and end up posting every five mins!

Craft wise there are a lot of projects to finish off, and lots of photos to sort, and picture to draw/scan and music to make (actually practicing some of the instruments I have would be a start).

I will get around to making a proper plan for it all but probably not until my birthday weekend. And talking of birthdays this year is Alaric's 40th so there will have to be something major for that - I am looking forward to theming some sort of get together but he is dallying!

Oh and we have a new kitten - Potassium - she needed rehoming after the council did their Tennent checks and arrived on Christmas Eve much to the children's delight especially Mary who had quiet literally been praying for a kitten!

I will try and submit more work this year and look forward to growing more things at the allotment - issue currently being that the mild weather means the beans that should be coming up late Feb decided to germinate - not sure they will survive but have so far.

So I am heading off into this new year with some trepidation but a good scoop of hope too.

Slither Moon and Morning Star

Shooting Stars (by )

Last night I watched the Geminid Meteor Shower - my great Aunt died the morning before and I feel isolated and cut off from the family that surrounded me as a child - she was the last link I had to that really - to that older generation - we all knew she was ill and in her 80's but somehow it still sliced as a knife and I cried and I wasn't sure weather I was crying for her or crying for my nan or the child that was or something else but I just remember all her jewellery and sitting around the kitchen table and darting between hers and my nana house - they were in the council houses at the base of the tower blocks and my great gran was just over the road in the old peoples home and sometimes we'd all go and see her and take her food.

This year has had death and life in it sometimes that spell in-between did not even get to birth. And I am dwelling, the sorrows piling up and threatening to drown me and an apathy is calling as I see the pain once more of those who chose to leave transferred and intensified in those who they have left behind.

So many things to worry about and I can't seem to help stem the tied of hurt and pain and death, I am still trying but the trying is getting harder.

I made mulled cider, hot apples and chocolate milks of varying temperatures and invited people round - they were already invited but I enhanced and kept it that way so as not to disappear into a ball of misery. I had canceled the plans of the previous day as a void yearned and pulled at me and the tears poured from my eyes with both intensity and numbness and there was just me in a pool of warmth that I know was my husbands arms but I did not really see him.

And so I had to make sure we still did something so we watched the stars, my little ice gems of twinkling sky that I know are hotter than fire and ring like bells and the shooting stars are rocks that I love the crystal patterns of and the ripples of cold melt that coat their surface once they have - if they ever do - reach the ground.

When I came to try and write all of this, to share with others what the night of light smudged night was like, it came as a poem.

I watched the shooting stars with my family and friends, there were a few around at in the early evening though the youngest grew bored. The meteors were glorious later on - everyone else had buggered off including my family to great Morpheus or sleep or a warm bed at least - so it was just me and bits of burning rock from space and the mortality pain hit - all of this wonderfulness often over ridden by pain and anguish and all that getting to know the world and just as life fits like a well fitting shoe no long giving blisters - whoompf you are gone to goodness knows where - maybe riding the back of those steaks of light or sitting with the sky daddy, or to be cradled by the arms of Gaia or just a nothing.

I watched the shooting stars remembering that like me they too were star dust and named them after the loved until I ran out of names and then I beheld the others as the lost ones I could not or did not want to know, held them as the sorrowful lonely deaths because though we all ultimately face death alone some of us have to face life on our own in desolation and that is a bone chill blood curdle of a thing that slices at the very humanity of us.

I watched the shooting stars and they reflected in my tears for the losses of this and all years and tears of gratitude at the wonders and spectacles and love that those same years have also brung. I watched the sky rocks blaze. And then folded strips of paper to glow in the dark as wishes, they were of course what we have decided is a star shape though it is pointy and not spherical. Tonight again I will watch the shooting stars.

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 mâché 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 🙂 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 🙂

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 🙂

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

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