Collapse of Rover hits UK astronomy?

According to this story on the BBC website:

UK science has become an unexpected victim of the Rover collapse as funds used to soften the impact of the failure were clawed back from research.

The Department for Trade and Industry said it faced financial pressures that required it to re-balance its spending.

Ongoing costs related to the loss of the Rover car company and the rescue package put together for British Energy were cited as causes for the shortfall.

It means £68m given to the UK Research Councils by the DTI will be taken back.
Towards the end of the article there's a list of various research councils and the impact it will have, one of them is:
Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council £3.1m
That can't be good, can it?

Next week's lunar eclipse

Like Will, I'm already thinking about observing next week's lunar eclipse.

All being well, weather permitting (sadly the 6 to 15 day forecast from the Met Office doesn't give much of a clue about what to expect), I'm hoping to join a fellow observer a Woodland Waters (somewhere we've used once so far and were very happy with). The horizon there is pretty good and should give an unobstructed view of the whole event.

Even though I now own a dSLR it's unlikely that I'll be taking any photographs of the event due to the fact that I don't have the kinds of equipment that make it worth it, although I might try something — during the last lunar eclipse the fact that I only had a compact digital camera didn't stop me from trying to make some sort of photographic record.

Visually I'll probably be using a 10x50 binocular and the Antares 905. Pretty much all of my observing will be visual and, of course, I'll be keeping a written record of the event.

Fingers crossed that the weather plays ball again...


Sir Patrick's Day?

While it's nowhere near as odd as some e-peitions, this one caught my eye for the obvious astronomy connection:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Mark the 4th of March as a National Holiday in honour of Sir Patrick Moore's Birthday.

Sir Patrick Moore's extensive contribution to the rich scientific heritage of this nation should be rightfully recognised. We believe a National Holiday on the date of his birth: March 4th, would prove an apt and just cause for celebration and merriment as well as providing much appreciation of the scientific world.
Not that I'll be adding my name (mostly because we don't need any more public holidays in the UK, but also because I can think of better people to honour if such a thing were ever to be done).


The UK's own space program

Last Sunday evening I was treated to one of the best TV moments ever: Top Gear (I really don't care for cars much, but Top Gear isn't really about cars anyway) kicking off the UK's very own space program (yes, yes, I know, we used to have one):

For anyone who doesn't know what that actually is, it's a Reliant Robin.

That alone was worth the cost of this year's licence fee.

Dobsonian vs Equatorial

Via this post on the SPA BB:

Hmm, okay...


No more Night Sky

Stuart is reporting that Night Sky magazine will be no more. That's a real shame.

I first noticed the magazine, here in the UK, back in early 2005 and I've been buying it ever since. While it is more of a "beginners" magazine and I probably don't really count as a "beginner", I always found it to be an enjoyable read.

I hate Pete Lawrence

Well, okay, I don't really hate Pete Lawrence, but just when you think he can't get any more talented, or lucky, he goes and does something like this.

That's just showing off!


Astronomy Now, and some other bits

I had a parcel turn up today. In it was a copy of the March edition of Astronomy Now and a copy of the Astronomy Now 2007 Yearbook.

I hadn't ordered them.

This was AN's way of saying thanks for me letting them use a version of this post in an article of reports about Comet McNaught.

The free copy of the magazine was expected, but the free copy of the yearbook wasn't. I thought that was rather nice of them.

I've not done much in the way of observing in the past few weeks. I've not even managed much solar observing thanks to the weather. We did have a clear spell last night and I did wander out to have a look at the skies with a view to getting the EOS 400D out and possibly doing a little more constellation photography but cloud rolled in while I was assessing the sky.

Which sort of fits in nicely with the current news about Mira. It would be neat to get some shots off of that area of sky, then take some more later on down the line and compare the images.


A little bit of astrophotography

On Saturday evening I finally caved in and, while I had a space moment, I decided to give my Canon EOS 400D a quick go under the stars.

Conditions weren't ideal, mist was starting to form, but I dragged the tripod and camera out anyway. I played around with different exposure settings and generally got to know some of the features of the camera that I might want to use if/when I do some astrophotography (I'm more interested in using the camera for "straight" photography than I am astrophotography — I think I'm still more into observing than I am photographing).

Probably the best of the bunch was this one of Orion. It's trailed a little (no surprise) and I think the focus is a little off too, but M42 is clearly visible and, I think, I even managed to catch a faint meteor (look in the top half of Orion's "body").


Sundogs and Circumzenithal Arc

This afternoon I was lucky enough to catch a display of a pair of sundogs and a circumzenithal arc. The arc was rather faint, nowhere near as good as the last display I saw. Despite this I grabbed my camera and tried to record what I saw.