Category Archives: astronomy

Science time

Science is made up of so many things that appear obvious after they are explained.
Pardot Kynes.

Another Dune quote but its apt for so many things that happened this weekend.


Firstly on Friday, I gave a brief talk at Dorkbot Anglia about how I used our Celestron telescope and a cheap, off the shelf webcam to take pictures/video. The talk went really well (for me anyway, I hope everyone else found it interesting) including a live demo of Lynkeos which went off without a hitch and I really enjoyed the evening with a chance to meet some new people and listen to some amazing talks. For anyone who is interested then the slides are available in the Freebies section of the website. It’s wonderful to see that there is stuff like that going on in the area and I’m looking forward to going to another one. I’m also considering running a Star Party one night now the nights are starting sooner. A group of us loafed off to the pub after the talks had finished to engage in generic pub natter and much entertainment was had.


After that excitement Saturday arrived and I finally got a chance to do a playtest of Dune. This was scary, I’ve have worked out that the whole thing has cost me over £200 to build, so this was crunch time. If something was missing or (horror of horrors) the game was rubbish I needed to know if it worth the two months build time and the cost?


I bribed Karl AKA @multicelldsgn and Paul AKA @paulhutson with the promise of cooked meat in bread to come and try it out. I considered drugging the food to swing the odds in my favour but thought better of it… this time.

We had a brief skim of the rules and setup with randomly chosen factions. (Some of the following photos are blatantly stolen from their twitter feeds as wasn’t thinking and I didn’t take many myself 🙁 so thanks to them for snapping away).


The first game was a very quick struggle between the Harkonnen (Paul), Fremen (Karl) and Guild (myself). Actually, quick isn’t the word, it was over in two turns. The Harkonnen started in one city and has the other in spitting distance, combined with the ‘thoper bonus, they managed to dash to the nearby sietch without any kind of opposition and took control. We mulled over these events and started a second game.


This time it was between the Bene Gesserit (Paul), The Emperor (Karl) and the Harkonnen (myself) and lasted longer as we had started to see through to the dark place where this game dwells. Betrayal, poison, sneak attacks, being eaten by worms, whole armies wiped out by storms or in battle… this is a game which rubs it’s hands together and cackles loudly in great delight as you are being stabbed in the back. Out comes a projectile weapon but it’s canceled by a shield, a “are you planning to poison me?” truetrance moment, here come the traitor cards and that spice you just collected? You’ll need it to get back those troops which the worm swallowed. At one point the tanks seemed to be ready to overflow with dead troops and all five of the Emperors leaders sat in the tanks after the last one was poisoned. The game could have lasted slightly longer if I had remembered to play my traitor card on the last fight but in the end the Bene Gersserit pulled off a slick finish to take the game.


So is it worth the build time and the cost? YES! Oh yes so many times over. I’ve never played a game like this before. It was very easy to pick up the rules, we hit our stride early into the game and it never grew dull. If I have one gripe with the game is that it really does need six players. Each faction seems well balanced in its abilities but without all of the factions it seems slightly out of kilter.

Hopefully a six way game is on the cards soon but I’ve got no idea when, I’m not the Kwisatz Haderach 🙁


Speaking of superbeings, on Sunday I was hard at work on Odin as a companion for Thor.


He’s coming on well but I think it’s back to work for a rest.

Dorkbot Anglia

Tomorrow I will be giving a talk at Dorkbot Anglia 13 about how I cut up a webcam to take pictures and video of the night sky with the Dort’s Celestron telescope.

dorkbot anglia

It’s at the town hall and seems that I’m up first. I will (hopefully) be demoing how I stack frames from video to make one image, showing some of the images we have made along the way and lugging our telescope through the streets of Ipswich after 9pm at night.

I’ll post the slides up once it’s all over.

2012 moon

This is the year we all die in some Mayan apocalypse, so is it me or is the moon getting bigger?

I’ve been playing with one of my new toys I got for Christmas and it allows me to attach my DSLR to the telescope and take piccys. I think my lens need cleaning as there are a lot of blemishes on the original but this is one of the first I’ve managed to get.

Days cycled to work: 2
Days driven: 0

Mission control, this is Jupiter 1, the Robinson’s are all tucked in

After a brief bit of mucking around with a lens reducer which didn’t seem to work properly a new one arrived today (yesterday by the time I’m writing this) and it was a loverly clear night to give it a try. The main point of it was to try and fit a bit more of the moon in when using the webcam and I’m really pleased to say this one works and a big thanks to Lee Sproats at Green Witch for his patience with dealing with me over the lens reducer.

This is with the lens reducer in:

And this is without:

The difference is really noticeable and if it wasn’t for the fact I was freezing out there (no i didn’t have a coat on, i was too damn busy) I would have tried to get a sharper focus.

Trotting along behind the moon was that little git I tried to get at the start of the year.

This is a much better shot than in March and shows Callisto, Ganymede, Europa, Jupiter and Io. I was using a filter to cut down the glare but theres no details to be seen, so either I need a better filter or something to help clean it up.

And this is the original video that came from:

Dammmmmit after nearly an hour indoors i’m still freezing. BEDTIME!