Astronomical events: February to May

My last update on my astronomical exploits was way back at the beginning of February. At that point I’d just got the new telescope installed and Mars was getting closer to opposition.

Between then and the end of May was quite a busy time in the sky when it came to planetary observation as Mars continued to be visible from my back garden for much of the time and Saturn came out to play as well. Unfortunately, after the third week in May both planets were obscured by the house by the time dusk fell. Even so, I managed to get some decent images.


I’d already managed to get one good image of the planet by the beginning of February but due to cloud cover the the next opportunity wasn’t until early March. Thankfully, there was a short period of very good seeing, allowing me to even image clouds developing within the atmosphere.

Details on the surface weren’t that clear, but that was partly due to the low quality of the camera and its low speed with the light levels available. Once the atmosphere became more turbulent the results were no-where as good.

So, I decided to buy a better quality planetary camera. The resolution was still 640×480 but its noise levels were far lower, so that even without getting the colour balance correct on the first go I managed to get a far better image:

Unfortunately, by the end of March the weather closed in and the next time I could get out to view the sky was in May.

By the middle of May the planet was rapidly receding from view, markedly shrinking and becoming harder to image, especially as by the time it was visible it was almost behind the house. However, because of the change of angle, it was far easier to see that it was indeed a sphere as it was easy to see its phase:

Before long, however, it became impossible to image.


Saturn wasn’t easily visible from my garden until the clouds cleared in May, which gave me only a few short weeks in which to view and image it before it too disappeared behind the house and into the dusk. Also, most evenings the sky was just too unstable to get decent images of the planet given the amount of magnification required. Having said all that I did manage a few really pretty decent images such as this:

It’s been two years since, and still people are asking.

It’s somewhat surprising but it’s practically two years since I last wore the kilt properly and yet I’m still getting asked if I’m going to wear it again now any again.

The most recent event where I was asked about it (all were women) was at the University of Oxford ICTF Conference. This is an annual event currently held at the Kassam Stadium where the majority of the University’s IT staff go and “network”.

The continued interest in the kilt wearing made me think that I needed to once and for all do a poll and find out what people really thought about this subject. To this end I used an “app” on Facebook to create one and invited all those on Facebook and a few other friends to take it.

Even though the turn-out was only 10% of those asked, i.e. 21 people, the results surprisingly mirrored response I found during the time I wore the kilt:

Poll results
Do you feel that wearing a kilt is inappropriate in a modern social context? Yes 2 votes 10%
  No 19 votes 90%
If you saw me wearing a kilt, such as that shown in my Facebook photos page, what would your thoughts be? “Oh, he looks good in that.” 14 votes 67%
  “Oh dear! What *is* he thinking?!” 1 vote 5%
  “Where are we going for lunch?” 6 votes 29%
In future, would you like to see me wearing a kilt? Yes, I rather like the idea. 5 votes 24%
  Yes, but only on special occasions. 4 votes 19%
  Yes, but not in a work environment. 1 vote 5%
  I’m not bothered either way. 9 votes 43%
  Not really, but it’s your choice. 1 vote 5%
  No. I think it would be a bad idea. 1 vote 5%

One thing which made me wonder is that the number of people who believed that it was inappropriate to wear a kilt in a modern social context was larger than the number who thought it would be a bad idea to wear it.

Anyway, I can now point to this poll as the reason I don’t go around wearing a kilt all the time.