Feb 26 2012

Silver Lining

Mr Stuff

Hello there, realised it’s been ages since I last blogged anything so here’s an update and stuff :)

For the last month or so my illness has been going nuts, lots of bad days, early mornings and the like, not a lot of fun. And this morning I was up at 4am thanks to Pepper kindly vomiting on the bed, although to be fair to her I was just about to get up anyway. But it didn’t help.

So I was up early, ho hum. I’ve probably mentioned before that early morning TV is hateful and I will do almost anything to not watch it, so seeing it was clear out I set up the telescope to cool down. Once it was cooled I saw an opportunity to have a peek at Saturn, and she was looking really nice. So I thought why don’t I try taking a pic?

It sounds like a really easy thing to do, just poke the phone camera at the eyepiece and away you go, but it’s not that easy. You need to try and make sure that the camera is pointing directly into the eyepiece, not easy when the camera is flush to the back of the phone and you can’t see it. To make it harder I was using a 6.5mm eyepiece which has a really small hole to look into, then add in that Saturn is moving and only remains in the centre of the view for about 20 seconds. So there is a lot of adjusting the scope and trying to line up the camera.

I was at this for about 90 mins and in that time took about 10 pics and 2 video’s, hoping there was at least one good frame in there, and there was. The last picture that I took before trying the video’s, and before Saturn vanished behind the flats next door, was spot on. In fact I can say I’m blown away by it.

Since putting the picture onto Twitter I’ve had numerous retweets, thanks to @Peoplesastro, lots of really nice comments and a few new followers. But I’ve kind of made a rod for my own back since this is my 1st real go at astrophotography and IMO it’s a blinder, I hope I can follow it up :)

So enough of that, here is the pic in question. I hope you like it.


Dec 31 2011

New Year, New Thinking

Mr Stuff

So the last day of 2011 is upon us and I’ve made so much progress in 2011 that I’m really looking forward to 2012.

In 2011 I started the big fight back against my illness, it has taken so much from me and I’ve had enough, I want my life back. I’ve been trying hard to get out more and think positively, and it seems to be working. Friends have said that they’ve noticed a difference in me, for the good, and I’m just going to build on this.

2011 is also the year I got a real passion for astronomy, mainly from hiding from daytime TV by watching Discovery, Discovery Science and nat Geo, and I love it. I passed an introductory OU course in astronomy, got some binoculars, more books than I have space for and a borrowed telescope. I’ve seen awesome nebulae and another galaxy, as well as more meteors this year that I’ve seen in my life.

But the biggest change has been to join Twitter, by following some astronomy people and following their #FF’s I’ve found myself in a group of friends with a passion for astronomy, as well as general chat. I’ve found support on there that I could never have dreamt of, I have always relied on my physical friends but know that they are busy a lot of the time with work and not always available for a chat. But on Twitter there is always someone to chat to, even when I have my really early starts, and I’ve found other people who are also suffering with illness and have similar experiences to me and this is invaluable. A few of my friends have a small idea of what I’m going through but not many, so being able to talk to people with similar pain and agoraphobia, and to see how well they are getting on with it gives me a lot of strength.

The list of names to thank is too long for me to remember but some of the main ones that help me, and deserve really big thanks, include Lucy, Caroline, Team Sonia, Mary, Felicity, Dawn, Bellatrix and Mr Menace. But that’s not the extent of the list, everyone I chat to adds a great deal to my astro knowledge, my general wellbeing or just makes me laugh.

*EDIT* I forgot to say big thanks to my 2 bestest ladies, Mrs Stuff and Pepper. They always make my days better :)

2102 also marks me getting my head back into a work ready mode, since working is the thing I miss most, as I start volunteering with a local charitable organisation. I’m really looking forward to it as it will make me feel useful and hopefully give me more self confidence. A lot of the work is web based so I can do a lot of it from home, although their offices are fairly close to home.

So a fond farewell to 2011 and bring it on 2012, with a big #FU_illness, and a pic of the tattoo I had done to signify my illness. It’s helped me a lot psychologically to have something physical to aim all my hate at.

Mr Stuff Tat

Dec 17 2011

Twitter – a force for good

Mr Stuff

When I joined Twitter I had a view that it was full of people talking about food they’d eaten and booze but I was most very very wrong. I started off following friends and a few astronomy folk, then the people that were #FF’d (FollowFriday) by the astronomy folk and before I knew it I had a whole new social group to chat to. And more importantly I had a new virtual support network to help me when I’m a bit down or getting anxious, and in return I also help some of them when they’re struggling.

It’s great for me as I spend a lot of the day on my own, when Mrs Stuff’s at work, and I can’t always hassle friends as they’re busy. But on Twitter I can chat away about anything to people who understand some of the things I’m going through, and for that I am hugely grateful to every one of them. They have helped me more than they can ever know.

Before joining I had a lot of sad, solitary days where there was little I could do to calm the noise and bad thoughts in my head. But now I know there are people I can talk to who won’t ignore me because I’m talking about being ill or having a head full of nasty thoughts. So I get a lot less sad days, and if I do I try to fight it and turn it into an OK day but if that doesn’t work there are people I can talk to to help me.

I’m also finding my astronomy is coming on in leaps and bounds because I have access to fellow astronomers of all skill levels who are so full of knowledge, experience and happy to help. I’m getting tips and tricks for all aspects of astronomy which would have taken me years to get on my own.

I’m so happy I joined up and have found the circle of friends I have, although Mrs Stuff does complain occasionally that I spend all my time on Twitter and have made her a Twitter Widow. I don’t mean to spend so much time on it but I’m having so much fun chatting about the big issues, illness or biscuits.

So a big thank you to all the great people I chat to on Twitter, you truly have changed my life for the better.


Dec 9 2011

I Passed :)

Mr Stuff

I got the results of the OU course Introducing Astronomy today and I passed it, yay.

On the whole the marking of my work resulted in an “Achieved” result with 1 “Well Achieved” and 2 “Not quite achieved”, I didn’t quite get the question. So now to see if I want to do another one and if so which one?

Woo Yay

Dec 5 2011

Getting Chilly

Mr Stuff

Brrr it’s getting a bit chilly out there but with chilly nights come clear skies, which I love. Last night I was out and about with the telescope looking for stuff, unfortunately the moon was very bright which washed out a lot of the dimmer stars but there was still a lot to see.

Once it made it past the neighbours huge eucalyptus tree I got a great view of Orion, my favourite constellation. Betelgeuse was excellent and orange and I got a peek at the Orion nebula. I’m hoping it’s going to be clear tonight as well as I am making a short list of things to keep an eye out for.

BTW here is me all ready to take on the cold and see stuff :)

Astro Guy

Nov 4 2011

Still not great

Mr Stuff

Howdy, unfortunately I’m still not really feeling any better which sucks even more than I may have said it did last time. Last week I had an appointment at the General to see my Psychologist but there was no way I was going to travel that far, such was my nausea level, that I had to cancel. A new appointment has been sorted for next week and hopefully I’ll be able to get to that one.

Other than that it’s been very much business as usual for me, although I am spending more time on Twitter these days, I love it. Before I joined I thought it was just full of people talking about what they had for lunch, but I’ve found some great astronomy resources on there and they are really helpful. So my day is filled with great astrophotography and I can’t argue with that.

Oct 24 2011

New hobby is ace

Mr Stuff

As you’ve probably noticed I’m having a really bad time at the mo, but I’ve found that astronomy is almost the perfect distraction.

When I’m out in the back garden it’s so easy to really get into it. There is so much to look for with the binoculars and show others. Last night we were at Eors for food and seeing as it was clearish I took my bins round. While showing them Jupiter and other stuff we saw an awesome shooting star.

I’m playing about with the borrowed telescope but it’s a lot harder to find things compared to the bins. So I’ll keep on going as I haven’t even scratched the surface of stuff to look at.

Sep 19 2011

Astronomy Update

Mr Stuff

The last month has been tough so my course has taken a bit of a back seat but I’ve nearly finished it and have just over a month to get the assessment in. Learning lots of interesting stuff but am currently unsure whether I will continue with another course after this one, cost and working hard to fix myself being the biggest factors.

But in the gaps between cloudy days, been a lot of them recently, I have managed to spy some cool stuff with my binoculars. I’ve seen Andromeda, and shown it to others, tried to spy a comet and had a glimpse of the Orion Nebula.

Once the clocks go back and it gets proper dark again I am going to borrow my neighbours telescope to get a better view of stuff. There is also talk of a few folk going on a small field trip to get away from the light pollution of Southampton and see what we can find.

I’m partly annoyed that I didn’t have this interest in science and stuff 20 years ago but better late than never.

Mar 31 2011

Some book learnin for me

Mr Stuff

After thinking about it for ages I have finally signed up for an astronomy course with the OU. I’m starting off with an entry level course to get used to the studying but am hoping to keep going with their courses.