San Jose soap box race

San Jose soap box race
September 22, 2015

When I heard that the road outside our house was going to be closed for a go-kart race, I was picturing loads of very noisy karts snarling past. Frankly, I was congratulating myself that it was due to finish at 7pm. One year the regular rally went on until midnight, and the noise drove me crazy. But this was great – motorless karts rolling down the hill, some cheap and…

Read More >>

Blood Moons

The Moon blood red because it's completely inside the Earth's shadow.
August 21, 2015

Total Lunar Eclipse April 15th 2014, as seen from the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter. SkyCenter.Arizona.edu In the early hours of September 28th the moon will plunge into the Earth’s shadow and turn blood red. It’s a perfectly normal event, produced by the combined orbits of the earth and moon and the effect of the Earth’s atmosphere bending the sunlight like a lens, but it’s dramatic and spooky, and if you didn’t…

Read More >>

How to photograph meteors, including the Perseids on August 14th

A Geminid meteor over the Caldera de Taburiente, captured by Christoph Marlin
August 9, 2015

The Perseid meteor shower is already here, and it will reach its peak on August 12th as the Earth passes through the dust left by comet. If you want to photograph shooting stars, use a wide angle lens with a large aperture, set the ISO to 800 or higher, and use a tripod. It’s no good chasing meteors around the sky – chose one spot and stick to it. It…

Read More >>

Painting a telescope

Painting the tower of the Swedish Solar Telescope, Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, La Palma
August 7, 2015

Yesterday I showed a group around the WHT, and I noticed that the Swedish Solar Telescope is being repainted. (Follow the link for more about the telescope.)

Read More >>

What to Feed Lizards on La Palma

Female Canary wall lizard with watermelon
August 3, 2015

Yesterday I discovered that the local lizards (Gallotia galloti palmae) are fond on watermelon on a hot day. Figures. Unlike most lizards, they eat quite a lot of plants, especially ripe fruit, to the point where they can become a nuisance in vinyards. I recently discovered that we only have one species of small lizard here. What I thought were two species is one, with different colours for males and…

Read More >>

A Breathtaking Window on the Universe

The front cover for 'A Breathtaking Window on the Universe'
August 2, 2015

Yes, it’s my book. “A Breathtaking Window on the Universe: A guide to the observatory at the Roque de los Muchachos SECOND EDITION” By Sheila M. Crosby (Non-Fiction Paperback) 164 pages (16 more than the first edition) Welcome to the Roque de Los Muchachos, where 15 telescopes from 19 nations use the best night sky in Europe to explore the cosmos. Find out what it’s like to work in this strange…

Read More >>