This green blob was last seen 50,000 years ago.
January 2023 was slightly warmer than January 2022, twice as wet, and our second sunniest January ever: 17.332kWh.
Admin1 is rereading Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson. Admin2 is reading The Water Clock by Jim Kelly.
Seen through the morning fog and a few filters: the Sun with a massive sunspot, 5 times the size of the Earth.
And here is The Light (shopping/hotel/cinema complex which banned Admin2 from taking photos in case there were celebrities hanging out there, coz we all know celebs hate being photographed) lit up by a low sun yesterday when our solar panels hit 0.92kWh, best since last November.
Admin1 is reading The Kingdoms and Admin2 is reading The Lost Future of Pepperharrow in our ongoing Natasha Pulley fest.
The Moon and Jupiter shine down from above and the lights of the city twinkle in the distance. Streets of Darkness is also the title of the book Admin2 is reading, by AA Dhand, about crime and drugs and violence and riots in Bradford, which always seems like a nice place when we visit.
Admin1 is reading The Old Enemy by Henry Porter.
We got up this morning at 4:30am to be greeted by cloud cover, but within 15 minutes it had cleared, allowing us to see the occultation of Mars by the Moon, starting just before 5am from Leeds. This is a quick and dirty upload, and a rather poor animation; more later perhaps.
The photos were taken through an ETX125 telescope with an attached Canon 7D camera, controlled from a Pixel 6a mobile running the excellent DSLR Controller app. There’s just a suggestion of surface detail on Mars.
This picture is a tiny detail from an unzoomed shot taken with Admin1’s new phone — a Pixel 6a — from the light-polluted suburban environment of our garden. The inset in the green circle is a screen grab from Stellarium, a wonderful sky simulation program available for Linux and Windows. It shows that the faintly elongated blur at centre-left is, indeed, the Andromeda Galaxy; all the surrounding stars are correct. Our galaxy will collide with Andromeda soon. (OK, in about 5 billion years; no worries.)
It’s amazing that a small phone can capture something like this.
Today 2022 became our best year ever on the solar panels, and Admin1 is reading The Blood Divide by AA Dhand.
Another lovely photo from Admin1’s new phone; the tiny cluster on the right is the Pleiades, the bright spot near the centre is Mars. Taken on the first clear night for ages, when the temperature dropped to 0.6 °C. Today is cloudy and rainy again.
Admin2 is reading Box 88 by Charles Cumming.
The moon shining down in a misty sky. This morning was properly foggy.
We had our family meal of chicken, bacon and broccoli and apple meringue (we are constantly trying out new recipes to get shot of our glut of apples) and scored a magnificent THIRTEEN on the GSQ.
Admin1 is rereading Monstrous Regiment by Sir Terry Pratchett. Admin2 is rereading Beyond Black by Dame Hilary Mantel, which is beyond brilliant.
A very partial eclipse, taken through an infrared filter.
Admin1 is rereading Reaper Man by Sir Terry Pratchett. Admin2 is reading Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.
The almost-full moon through a veil of cirrus, and a planet so close it looks like a little ball.
Admin1 is rereading Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. Admin2 is rereading The Evidence by Christopher Priest.
Next day: the family came round for stroggers and sticky toffee apple pudding and we scored a respectable 10 on the GSQ.
Ongoing hot sunny days and warm nights with clear skies occasionally crossed by meteors.
Admin1 is rereading The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith and Admin2 is reading Uncanny and Improbable Events by Amitrav Ghosh, which is meant to be about climate change but is mostly about the impressive number of books in all genres that Amitrav has read.
Another lovely full buck moon, photographed by Admin1 who is reading The Dark by Emma Haughton, who overloads her useless protagonist with a ludicrous number of problems — by page 30 we’ve learned that this doctor, who apparently passed a rigorous selection procedure to spend six months on a cramped and pitch-dark UN Antarctic base in midwinter, is afraid of the dark, afraid of enclosed spaces, afraid of heights, is a drug addict, is chronically insecure, is incapable of normal social interactions with family and co-workers, and suffers from crippling anxiety about herself and her recently killed partner (for which she may be to blame). Oh, and she’s facially scarred. You really have to wonder about this “rigorous selection procedure”. Thrown aside with great force after 100 pages.
Admin2 is reading Eversion by Alastair Reynolds.
Another super June moon, rising at midnight.
Our luckless ringed bird has been traced. The poor thing had only lasted 7 days and flown 3 kilometres after being ringed.
Some interesting facts discovered from ringing data….
* Oldest bird – Manx shearwater, 50 yrs 11 months
* Furthest travelled – Arctic Tern from Wales to Australia 18,000 km
* Strangest recovery – Osprey ring found in stomach of a crocodile in The Gambia!
Admin1 is reading Where Ravens Roost by Karin Nordin; another unfinished book, this time given up in irritation at the useless protagonist and his constant arguments with everybody.
We are watching Borgen – Power and Glory.
The moon is laughing because the trees are tickling her head.
Admin1 is reading 1979 by Val McDermid, which was … well, dull. Admin2 is rereading Dr Futurity by Philip K Dick.
Crescent moon, with a faintly visible Jupiter above it, preceding the coldest night of the winter so far at -3.3°C.
Admin1 is rereading Bryant and May on the Loose by Christopher Fowler. Admin2 is reading Bad Day at the Vulture Club by Vaseem Khan.
Despite a day of clouds and rain the solar panels managed .679kWH, making today one of the top twenty sunniest December days of the last ten years.
Admin1 is reading Nighthawking by Russ Thomas. Admin2 is reading A Question of Guilt by Jørn Lier Horst, in which, for once, the detective’s daughter did not get kidnapped.
If we had been on the other side of the world we would have seen the longest lunar eclipse this century and the longest partial eclipse for 580 years.
Admin1 is reading Beloved Poison by ES Thomson — Gothic, gruesome and gory, with a gallery of grotesques. And very odoriferous. Admin2 is reading Still Life by Val McDermid.
We scored 10 on the GSQ.
The waxing moon sits next to Jupiter in the clear evening sky.
Admin2 is reading Hidden Depths by Anne Cleeves.
Admin1 is reading Cold Kill by Rennie Airth. Admin2 is reading Death in Florence by Marco Vichi, another book set in the 1960s, this time featuring the catastrophic Florence flood.
We scored 12.5 on the Guardian Saturday Quiz which we had to do online because there were no newspapers in any of the shops yesterday. When the lights go out we’ll have beautiful views of the stars.
A bright blue band low in the sky. Probably the last noctilucents of the season.
Meanwhile, earlier tonight Admin1 looked up at the sky and saw a glorious golden fireball trailing sparks. Make a wish, everybody.
Also on display, by a lucky coincidence, was the International Space Station. Try Heavens Above if you’re interested in spotting the ISS (also excellent for many other events of astronomical interest).
Admin2 is reading Have Mercy on Us All by Fred Vargas,an early Adamsberg book in which we meet many characters in the subsequent novels, and in which Paris is threatened by Vargas’ research subject, bubonic plague. Admin1 is reading, very appropriately, Masked Prey by John Sandford.
Today’s solar eclipse, partial from the UK and annular in parts of Canada/US. We were lucky with the weather — totally overcast at 9am but it cleared up somewhat in time for maximum eclipse at about 11am, giving us some atmospheric shots through the cloud cover, which then rolled in completely.
Admin1 is reading A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee, and Admin2 is reading, rather aptly, Black Sun by Owen Matthews; a KGB agent investigates a suspicious death in the run-up to the real-life biggest nuclear test ever.
A waning crescent moon rises in the dawn sky. Admin2 got up to look for meteors but it was too light and too late.
Admin1 is reading The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel. Admin2 is reading The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead: ghastly goings-on at a Borstal for bad black boys.
The Mars rover Curiosity looks curiously at its little baby, the drone Ingenuity, due to take its first flight on 10 or 11 April if all pre-flight checks go well.
The most recent weather report from Mars is from 29 March, with a daytime maximum of -20°C and night-time minimum of -73°C. Brrr! At least it’s sunny…
Meanwhile on Earth, last night was our coldest-ever April night at -2.1°C. Brrr again!
Welcome our little flying Martian robot overlord!
We ingeniously scored 11 on the GWQ; best this year!
Admin1 is rereading Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre. Admin2 is rereading Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd.
And the owls are hooting outside.
February has been averagely cold and the second least sunny, but today was in the Top Ten of our all-time warmest February days: 17.6 °C.
Admin1 is rereading The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter and Admin2 is rereading Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson which was laugh out loud funny and something like a Scarlett Thomas book with scatty students and useless lecturers and their uncompleted essays and partly written novels, and a protagonist with revelations about her parentage.
We scored 9 on the GWQ.
The moon celebrating the end of this ghastly year with a corona. December was our third coldest and second cloudiest December ever, but 2020 was our second warmest and second sunniest year in the 10 years we’ve been counting.
Admin1 is reading The Secret Life of Mr Roos by Hakan Nesser — a lovely book, funny and mournful without being sentimental. Thanks, Admin2! Admin2 is reading The Dark Isle by Clare Carson.