Today: It’s Bloody Freezing

17 Oct

Those who reside in the UK (mainly those who reside in Wales) are used to the cold/wet weather conditions that frequent our beloved island. However the recent warm ish spell has had us all surprised.

That is of course until about Tuesday just gone, I’m not sure about other people but it felt like i was going to shiver to death. Walking home from the foam party held at the student union on wednesday night was also…. rather chilly. I slept in ALOT of clothes.

These freezing conditions (when i say freezing i do tend to mean single figures above zero) however carry some advantages for the Astronomers among us. Cold temperatures and no wind tend to mean that the air is still enough NOT to distort the light as much as in warm windy conditions.ย  It’s meant that me and a friend manged to get my rather dusty 6″ reflector from my room to my back yard and have a looksie around the sky.

Being in the centre of Cardiff holds its usual problems of light pollution, However since i am surrounded by terraced houses, the bit where the light pollution holds most true is blocked out. Which means that the stars i do see look very impressive.

My friend and I managed to train my poor telescope in on Jupiter (this is quite hard when your view-finder isn’t linked up with the main tube). We saw the 4 Galileon Moons, and with the highest magnification my lens’ could manage, we could see the main bands. Very pretty stuff.

After staring and going “oo pretty” at Jupiter for about 15 mins, we decided to look for other things. Now as Astronomers in training, you would think we had a basic grasp of where things were in the sky, but since it took us 20 mins to find the North star (Casseiopia was being particuarly awkward and the Plough was behind my house), things weren’t looking up (no pun intended).

We receeded back to what we had a small idea of, books. We looked up the constellation Andromeda, which is next to Casseiopia and contains the Andromeda galaxy in the middle. My telescope SHOULD have been able to pick up the fuzzy blob and we were going to name it Andromeda, whether it was or not. But not having a lined up view-finder and tube made this thing difficult. It was also difficult because we totally got the orientation of the constellations wrong, and stars move – go figure – so we just pointed and hoped for the best.

Needless to say, our method didn’t quite work out. We found a diffuse cluster of stars, nothing on the scale we were looking for (a fuzzy blob), but thought it was cool. The hunt is still on for the Andromeda galaxy. I’m sure it’s still there. Somewhere….

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