Well, do ya?
Now, let’s be perfectly clear. I don’t believe in fate, I don’t believe in luck, predestination or karma, and I snort contemptuously down my nose at those pathetically ignorant trailers (*) who smile sweetly and explain “Well you see, all Scorpio’s are the same.”
[Please excuse me for five minutes whilst I fantasize about gathering all the astrologers in a room, then using a 4 inch core drill to remove their soggy excuse for a brain, and replace it with rice pudding, blu-tac, or a heady mix of carbon, sulphur, and potassium nitrate. There…that’s better.]
Notwithstanding the aforementioned disclaimers, I’m sure you, dear reader, (“reader”, > which I am sure applies only to my parole officer and mother in law. (These are not the same person! Geez, imagine that!!) The former reads this blog in a desperate attempt to get me re-admitted, and the latter scours each episode for circumstantial evidence that will help to get her aquitted on the grounds of diminished responsibility, or extreme provocation, when she finally suceeds in doing me in. Jabba the Hutt, as she is affectionately known (the affection is for the name, not the in-law), has been trying to get shot of me for years now. Heaven knows why. My only crime was to fall in love with her beautiful daughter, and two or three of her beautiful daughters’ friends…. Anyway Jabba, just stick a toothbrush in your ear, shove porridge up your nose, and carry round a one-armed doll that you insist on calling “My baby, MY BAAAAABY!”. Everything else about you already looks the part, it shouldn’t take much more to convince the authorities that you are barking mad, hell, I’d swear to it in court. Oh and by the way, thanks for the sandwiches, I fed them to next doors cat. It’s a shame, they are really gonna miss him….)
Blimey, where were we? Oh yeah, notwithstanding etc etc blah blah, do you ever get one of them days? You know, one of them days when everything goes smoother than smooth?
You must get them, every now and again. The sun shining through the window tells you it’s gonna be a glorious day….you get up and find you slept on the dry side ALL night, for once your mouth doesn’t taste like you have been chewing on decaying hamster garnished with horse manure, and when you look in the mirror there’s a glint in the eye and a flash in the smile of the guy who is staring back. Oh yes, it’s gonna be a GOOD day!!
You set off for work, first kissing the other half goodbye, passionately, on the doorstep. The liitle old dear who lives over the way and who singlehandedly performs the neighbourhood watch for your street twitches behind her curtains and has to sit down with palpitations, and your sexy little wife bends one leg at the knee and curls her toes, giggling like a naughty schoolgirl. (If anybody finds that sentence offensive, then I am sorry. Sorry that you are a small minded turnip brain. Please join the cue where you hear the sound of the core drill.)
Once in the car, you find that Wogan is playing your favourite song, he’s telling your favourite jokes, and he’s wearing your favourite toupé. All the traffic lights are on green, except one, and when you stop at the red, a sporty little number with its top down pulls up next to you, (steady on, I’m describing the car, not the girl!) Inside is a twenty-something angel, all blonde, eyes, and floatation accessories, and when you wind down your window, she catches your drool, sorry, catches your eye, smiles knowingly, and winks, before speeding off. Oh yeah, it’s gonna be a GOOD day!
Once at the office, your new found confidence from the hottie in the car starts to pay off. The foxy receptionist, known by all as the ice queen, visibly melts when you give her a grin, and as she sits there with her little finger in the corner of her mouth (-Break for Cold Shower-) you get news from the MD.
“TJ” he says, “You will know that we have had to make some difficult choices, and in this world dominated by equality issues, and litigation, it is imperative that we pursue a course that will not leave us open to those prepared to sue other people for as much as breathing. Therefore, we are offering you the role of Chief President Managing Executive Director, and charging you with the responsibility of making all the female “managers” redundant. You are also authorised to re-employ three of them, in any role related to catering or cleaning. Please issue boxes of Kleenex to the females concerned, we don’t want the inevitable blarting to spoil the french polish on the desks now, do we. Oh, one more thing, speaking of “French-Polish”, I have a new secretary for you, that’s her over there in the mini-skirt, I hope you don’t mind, But I gave her permission to exercise in the office. Oh I say, she IS flexible!”
(We decided to call her “Squeezy”, it was the closest we could get to pronouncing her proper name with our tongues hanging out.)
Part way through this most excellent of days, and as you are idly designing “Wait Here For Core Drill” signs in MS Word, you start to muse about the evening ahead. Checking the weather forecast reveals high pressure, low humidity, gentle breezes, and excellent visibility. Now, I dont know about you, but up until this point, I haven’t questioned the events of the day, just lapped them up. But now this forecast………….Surely the powers that be are simply teasing?
So you get home, and you set up. The sky is ablaze with stars, but the moon is nowhere to be seen. You turn on your mount system, and find three perfect stars straight away. The GOTO is putting objects bang in the centre of the eyepiece, time after time. The camera achieves crystal sharp focus with the slightest twiddle, your auto-guiding setup finds a perfect star and tracks flawlessly, and the sky is full of fabulous DSO’s just a’waiting to be snapped up greedily by the camera.
Question. What usually happens at this point? Well, in no particular order, I have arranged a list of possible, usual, and frequent occurrencies.
1) You kick the tripod.
2) You kick the power lead out and lose your settings.
3) The clouds roll in.
4) The wife comes down to bring you a coffee, at the exact same moment that the girl next door, for the first time ever, gets changed with the curtains open. The wife assumes that your whole ‘hobby’ of astronomy has simply been a ruse, grabs a hammer and rearranges your telescope, then grabs your telescope and rearranges your teeth.
5) Your Parole officer calls and demands to know why you have been sending envelopes stuffed with pigs’ eyeballs to your mother-in-laws address.
Have you been there? I know you have. The odd thing is, nothing happened. I set my camera up, it took 10 x 300 second exposures, no trailing, no beeping from PHD as it lost its star, and no clouds. In disbelief I yanked R2D2 from his slumber and poked him towards the delights of the skies. The pictures I was taking were of Messier object No.57, otherwise called the “Ring Nebula”. On the pictures it shows itself as a rich red and cerulean, but I had no idea, whatsoever, what it looked like ‘in the flesh’ so to speak. But R2D2 picked it out effortlessly, and I must have sounded slightly more mad than normal as I exclaimed loudly at approx 03:00, ” OH WOW!! LOOK AT THAT!!”
I am convinced the neighbours think I have an invisible friend in the garden somewhere, as they hear me enthusing away to myself about the various object in the skies.
So what IS the catch? Perhaps it is this. I am sitting on the best data I have been able to collect so far. The longest exposures, the tightest focus, the most accurate framing. And I simply do not have time to process them! Not a spare hour, minute or second. And there doesn’t seem to be much light on the horizon (which normally in astronomy is good, but in this case, not) for any improvement.
Oh, I know what you are thinking….all that time writing that true story could have been spent much better in processing pictures. But life is rarely that simple. For what if, for instance, somebody else had written all this for me???
(*) - “Trailer” - as opposed to a “Tractor”. One who is pulled along, not one who does the pulling, dragged whichever way the tractor wishes.
Thanks Squeezy, that will be all, you can go back to your toe-touching exercises now, feel free to loosen another button if you wish, It IS warm in here, I’m a little hot under the collar myself. Why are you still writing?