The Anonymous Widower

I’m thinking of going to the States around the 19th to 21st of August to see the most amazing solar eclipse of the Century. It goes through major cities like St. Louis, Kansas City and Charlestown. The latter looks the best and I can manage it without driving. Anybody fancy tagging along?

June 22, 2017 Posted by | World | | 2 Comments

Lottery Grants To Museums And Heritage

This article on the BBC web site details the grants to various museums and heritage organisations.

I am pleased that one local to me; the Geffyre Museum is getting a grant.

The Geffrye Museum in London, which specialises in the history of the English domestic interior, is being given £11m.

The funding will allow the development of a new entrance from Hoxton station, accessible spaces for the collections, library and archive, new learning facilities and a new cafe.

The second entrance from Hoxton station is to be welcomed and I hope they make sure that the cafe serves gluten-free offerings.

One thing I feel strongly about is that all lottery-funded attractions, should have good access for those like me, who can’t or don’t drive.

Obviously some on today’s list like the Geffryre and Science Museums and Lincoln Cathedral are accessible by rail, but this isn’t always the case.

Jodrell Bank is a place, I would like to visit, but on looking up travel  information on their web site, it has to be a taxi from the nearest stations. That is just not good enough and a real pity considering that Jodrell Bank lies virtually alongside the rail line between Manchester and Crewe.

Jodrell Bank And The Manchester-Crewe Railway

Jodrell Bank And The Manchester-Crewe Railway

A station would be expensive, but I’m certain that many European countries would have provided something better than expecting visitors to take a taxi, especially as the nearest station at Goostrey is only served by one train an hour. It would be interesting to see what would happen, if the service was twice an hour and there was a free shuttle bus to Jodrell Bank.

In my view anything that makes science more accessible and also puts Jodrell Bank on a sound financial footing is to be welcomed.

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , | 2 Comments

Jodrell Bank

Jodrell Bank telescope is now clean and pristine and it would appear that Network Rail have cut back the vegetation, so you get good views of the iconic radio telescope from the train to Manchester.

In the 1960s, when the line was first electrified to Manchester, some of the new engines were built in Manchester and there was a lot of publicity photos of blue electric engines running past Jodrell Bank. I can remember one, where the dish was upside down for cleaning. I found one like that here from 1960. The locomotive in the picture is actually a Class 84, which was built in Glasgow.

I called Jodrell Bank iconic. It must be one of the few scientific instruments or laboratories, that if you showed most people a picture, they could name it.

April 5, 2014 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | 1 Comment

A Dilemma For Alex Salmond

I didn’t know that Scotland had a dark sky park and a gold tier one at that in the Galloway Forest Park.

It was funded by the Scottish government and as an amateur astronomer, who recently saw the wonderful skies in Sweden, I think that these dark sky reserves and parks are a very good idea.

But now Alex Salmond has a dilemma, as outlined by the BBC in this report. As a big supporter of wind turbines, does he give planning permissions for these around the park. As they are lit at night, they wouldn’t make the Scottish Dark Sky Observatory any better.

The Astronomer Royal for Scotland is not amused and has said this.

Installing any large structures that require illumination (whether visible or infra-red) would be akin to putting a factory in Glen Coe or electricity pylons along the Cuillin Ridge.

I have no direct interest as I live in London, but knowing the pleasure I get from observing the skies when I can, I think we need more dark sky parks. We also need one that is very easily accessible.  Obviously, a road through such an area to an observatory would be a generator of light pollution, but surely there must be somewhere in the UK, where a train station is in a dark sky area, that could be used to take visitors in and out, without making too much light pollution.

September 30, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Mizar And Alcor

In the wonderful skies over Sweden, I was able to identify both Alcor and Mizar in the constellation of Ursa Major.

That is something, I haven’t seen for a few years. Even in Suffolk, it was difficult, as there was so much stray light from the prison at Highpoint.

September 7, 2013 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Magnificent Skies

Living in London, you rarely get a clear sky with no light pollution.

But here in Central Sweden, about fifty kilometres north of Vasteras, we got some of the best skies I’ve ever seen.

Perhaps the best were in Alice Springs in Australia, when C and I flew around the country in a Piper Arrow. We were staying in this hotel and a local student had brought his telescope and set it up in the courtyard.  He was showing anybody who wanted to view, the southern sky. Sadly, in the evening we were there, only C and I took up his offer.  C would talk about it afterwards any time, we saw a magnificent sky.

My one regret on this Swedish trip, was not to bring a decent star chart with me. Another guy, who knew more than I do about astronomy, felt the same too.

It just shows  how clear the skies were.

Next time, I go to the area, I’ll be better prepared.

September 5, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 4 Comments

Comet Of The Century?

The BBC is showing a superb image of Comet Ison on its web site.  They also make this comment.

It could be the “comet of the century” if it does not burn up entirely on the way.

Here’s hoping!


May 31, 2013 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

Comet Ison

Comet Ison could be a big one. Some of the latest information from NASA is here.

I’ve set up an alert in Google, but I suspect, it’ll be like many supposed big ones of the earlier part of my life.  A complete disappointment!

The best comet, I saw was in about 1969 or 1970, when C and I were returning to our house in Melbourn near Cambridge.  I remember stopping the car and looking for some minutes from a lay-by on the A505. It was probably Comet Bennett, as that was the only bright one of those years.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

The European Extremely Large Telescope

It may sound it like it was named by Blackadder, but the European Extremely Large Telescope has just been backed by the Government.

I’m all for this level of support for science, provided it’s done correctly.

Many might think that it is a pity the telescope is to be built in Chile, but then the weather and atmosphere there is so much better. The biggest telescope in the UK; the Isaac Newton Telescope was actually moved from Sussex to the Canary Islands for this reason.

I suppose the name isn’t as good as that for the proposed Overwhelmingly Large Telescope, which wasn’t built, as it was probably too difficult.

March 4, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Call For The Dulux

We may have had a couple of near misses with asteroids lately, but I like the call from Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnett of Oxford University to use a giant tin of Dulux to make the asteroid white and thus make sunlight deflect it from the collision course.

Who needs Bruce Willis?


February 16, 2013 Posted by | News | , | 2 Comments