Pleiades Star Cluster

Click for Hi-Res version

Click for Hi-Res version

The large dot on the right is Jupiter. You can clearly make out the 7 bright stars in the cluster, but if not see below for an easy to understand illustration.

Beautiful Moon Shot

The clouds were rolling in fast so I had to be quick with this one.

Taken through a Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ telescope with an iPhone held by hand up to the eye piece. This technique works remarkably well for The Moon. It becomes a lot more tricky when it comes to planets though.


Timelapse of Jupiter

South West London – 13th December 2012 – 9:30pm

Using a webcam attached to the end of a telescope.

Jupiter through the telescope with a webcam.

Jupiter through the telescope with a webcam.


Came out pretty well in the end. It’s a little bit bright but that’s because I couldn’t find a filter to stick on the end of it. The webcam isn’t too hot either, wrong type of sensor. Nether-the-less still pretty happy with the result.

Here’s my webcam with the lens and focus wheel removed from the front. I’ve set it in a lump of blu-tak (well green in this case) in order to get a straight edge on the front of the camera. The Logitech  C905 webcam is not very powerful, and is a rather odd shape to attach a tube to. The cylinder I’ve used is a camera film case (with the end cut off) which just so happens to be exactly 1/4 of an inch, making it the perfect tube to slot into the telescope view finder.

The Moon

On the way home from work I was disheartened to see the clouds rolling in. That said I was able to find a few breaks in the cloud to get a few snaps of The Moon which was extremely bright last night. Almost too bright to get a nice photo. That said, my real target was Jupiter. She is highly visible in the UK skies at the moment at very sociable hours too.

I had taken apart my Logitech C910 Webcam and fixed it to a camera film case in order to slot it into the telescope view finder however I was unable to get any useful looking photographs. I will have to spend some time trying to configure the thing, to focus is correctly. Unfortunately the weather meant I didn’t have too long, so the shots below are merely taken holding an iPhone to the lens with a [not always] steady hand.

The last photograph is Jupiter, again with the iPhone. You can just about make out a couple of it’s Moons close by. I could make out the patterns on the surface of the planet, but, predictably, this is not possible with a shaky hand holding a mobile device. The webcam is coming though!

Pen space travel? It’s a mug’s game.

I’d just finished a marvelous mug of tea at work and was looking blankly into a page full of code when I found myself (to the annoyance of my work colleagues) flicking the bottom of my mug with the spring mounted button at the base of my pen. Clink, clink, clink it went as it gradually (and I mean really gradually) made it’s way across my desk. Then it made me wonder… I wonder just how far this is moving it each time? So I found myself a tape measure and to my surprise discovered that this tiny little spring was actually moving it 3mm per impact (see figure 1).

I didn't actually perform the experiment on a notepad, I'm only using this in order to illustrate the distance travelled.

The force generated by the spring mounted pen button was able to push the mug 3mm (across a nicely varnised office desk).

With that in mind I was able to make the simple calculation of it taking me 536’488 flicks of my pen to push my mug a mile (providing, of course, the terrain remained favorable). However, the time taken to perform the flick, reset and flick again took me, on average, about 3 seconds. 536’488 flicks (or a mile) would take 18.6 days. Probably not the most efficient way to move a mug a mile up the road, but there you go.

And… if you’re really interested, it would take you 128’050’137’600 flicks of the pen to reach The Moon! Sound feasible? Well you better start soon because that would take you 12’181 years, but at least come 14’192AD you’d be able to have a lovely cup of tea on The Moon.