Here's looking forward to November the 1st.
Call me a grumpy old git if you like, but I have a firm dislike of the trick-or-treat business on All Hallows Eve. In Scotland, the custom is to go guising: dressed up, as trick-or-treaters might be, but instead of just holding out a hand and expecting loot to be placed in it, the guisers would perform in return for edible reward. The performance might be a (bad) joke or a song, and could be so dire that you'd want to cough up quickly to cut the performance short, but at least there was effort in return for payment. I daren't answer the door on this night though, for fear that I might appear more fearsome than any pumpkin or turnip lantern, or bedsheet-aided banshee, and use language inappropriate for the audience. Or I might just launch into a lecture about sloth and avarice, and completely freak out the nocturnal visitors.
Here's looking forward to November the 1st.
Some years ago (just 13 years after the discovery of quasars, as it happens), my dear old Dad bought a second-hand telescope at auction. It was a Charles Frank 6-inch reflector, CF then being a company based in Glasgow's east end. I'd proved my lasting interest in astronomy with a pair of smaller telescopes in previous years, and he clearly felt the time was right for me to have a serious-sized instrument. (I think my brother Colin was given a ham radio around the same time, but he couldn't see Saturn with that, so I reckon I got the better deal.)
The outskirts of a city the size of Glasgow was not the ideal place for astronomy, but it could have been worse. Planets, galaxies and nebulae revealed themselves to me, and in time I wanted to photograph what I was seeing through the eyepiece. Trouble was, I didn't know much about photography, except how to release the shutter on a Box Brownie; talk of 103a-O and FP4 type II, and exposures in blue light, seemed like so much exotica. The only course of action therefore, was to learn about photography. Little did I know that the photography would supplant astronomy as the major interest, for quite some time.
I tried to take photographs through that telescope, my first attempt being with a 126 cartridge glued into an aerosol can cap lined with foam rubber, which fitted the eyepiece focuser on the 'scope. I did manage a pic of the Moon, but it was a crude result which I don't recall trying to improve upon; the fact that I'd achieved something seemed to be enough for the time being.
I soon bought a 2nd hand Praktica, and attached that to the scope with a suitable mount. I got some fuzzy snaps of Jupiter and Saturn, which I took along to the Airdrie observatory for feedback and advice (I think I bumped into someone associated with that place at an exhibition somewhere in Glasgow purely by chance). When I proffered my amateurish pics, they asked me how I got such good results -- which was a bit disappointing, as I knew they could be so much better than they were. I never did much more photographically with that 'scope, until last week.
The main motivation for buying a Canon 30D was to use it on the Brisbane Planetarium's Zeiss refractor. However, it's 21 km from home, so not exactly handy for a few quick snaps. I'd had the mirror on my 'scope realuminized a couple of years ago, and it was begging to be used properly for the first time in years, so I dug out the adaptor, did a bit of minor surgery to bring the primary mirror further up the tube, and attached the 30D. At this point, I did not have the 'scope on its mount, as I couldn't be bothered dragging it out of the garage and round the back of the house, so my first tests were done with the 'scope propped up on two chairs and a small wooden stool; hardly ideal, but good enough for a test. Results can be seen here and here.
I doubt there is anyone who actually likes packing up and moving, but I'd almost rather chew off my left hand than go through the loathsome process. We have 2 weeks now, until we get the keys for our new abode. I'll allow a full week overlap, before vacating the current house, although having moved here relatively recently, it shouldn't be too difficult a departure. After 5 years in one place, you can accumulate a fair bit of extra impedimenta, but we probably don't have too much more than we brought here.
Today and tomorrow are my weekend this week, so I ought to do as much as I can to be prepared. It's important to be prepared to be prepared though, so I think I should start with a cuppa. Maybe read a little as well, just so I don't get too far behind.
More nocturnal imaging happening, this time in an effort to photograph Pluto. This distant little object (it takes light about 4 hours to reach us from it) needs a large telescope for you to see it visually, but it can be photographed with a much smaller instrument. Pressing the Zeiss refractor into service again - I'm getting a taste for it now - I managed to record Pluto over the last 2 nights. See the results here.