Cloudless evening on Monday so I attempted to photograph NEOWISE. The problem I had was with my knowledge of the camera. I didn’t know where infinity was on the lens scale. Should it be hard up against the stop, on the infinity mark or some other position? Does it change with different zoom? During daylight this morning I discovered it was significantly different, more on the 300-meter distance, and does change with focal lengths. It is difficult to focus through the viewfinder when there is just black. No help from the moon to act as a focusing aid, because it was a new moon. So alas my pictures could be sharper. Possibly I should have tried focusing on the planets of Jupiter and Saturn which were very bright, close together and towards the South East.
The first photograph, where you can see the trees, was taken on my mobile phone. With a little imagination, you can see the comet trail point directly upwards. The second photograph was taken with the DSLR, zoomed and cropped to the comet.
The tail of the comet was just visible with the naked eye, but only if you knew where to look and had spotted it with binoculars. I was looking after 11 pm. Any earlier and the sky was too bright, leave it later and I believe the comet was nearer the horizon. When we saw the comet, it was towards the North West, halfway between the horizon and star called Dubhe in The Plough constellation. Dubhe is one of two pointer stars used to locate Polaris.
R and I had made a previous attempt by getting up at 3.30 in the morning, alas it was cloudy on the horizon, we looked in the wrong direction, and it was getting very bright at that time of the morning. Excellent view of Venus, it is now viewable in the morning.
By chance we saw the International Space Station fly over us on Sunday night. On the Monday and Tuesday I took to taking photographs of it. The first ones taken on Monday were short 30 second exposures. The last photograph taken on Tuesday at 23.45 was for the full duration of the visible portion of the flight. Unfortunately camera was not pointing quite the correct way, so we don’t see it fade out.
A walk through Ham Wood and then back up to Grendon Underwood and across the fields home. The sun was setting, so some warm images. The Spring flowers were over, so what remained of the flowers were a bit straggly, though they still looked nice.
After the weeks of rain, it was decided not to allow unnecessary vehicles on the shooting field. Instead, we would meet at Ludgershall village hall and be transported to the field by a vintage tractor (1980 Fiat) and trailer. Two trips were required. We can thank Jim for arranging this mode of transport. It was a fun start and end to the shoot.
Awaiting us at the shooting ground we had five stands of ten birds each. These were beautifully set up by Brian and his team, along with festive Christmas names. This was also the first outing of new safety cages, strong and light. As you can see from the picture, the field was truly waterlogged. Despite the cloud, there was no rain to spoil the fun. The breeze did add a chill to the air, 8C feels like 5C.
After the tea and coffee break, (please remember to bring your mug), we had a flurry shoot. Teams of three were randomly picked and shot the flurry. Deceptively slow at first, putting you at ease, until two fast, demanding flurries at the end. The final two stands of the fifty bird shoot then completed the shoot. In all 36 members and friends shot.
Village Hall and Lunch
Back at the Ludgershall village hall lunch had been prepared. An excellent buffet meal of meats, salads, baked potatoes and desserts. A big thank you to Celia, Shirley and Ann. After the meal, the prize giving.
We had our usual Christmas this year, complete with our countdown meals, all planned on a handy Excel Spreadsheet. One change was made, a meal was swapped around because the original was deemed too complicated for a Friday pub night.
Our Christmas Eve had Phil and Selina over for our usual cheese fondue. The fondue set is one of the few possessions I brought to the family, which still exists. The set must be more than 40 years old.
Christmas Day had Julian join us for our traditional Christmas Turkey lunch. (I cannot get them all to agree to a swap to a goose.) Nothing was forgotten, except the amount of gravy made was somewhat lacking, so there was no gravy in the sandwiches on subsequent days. Traditional Christmas pudding was on offer, with Jack Daniels Butter, along with Christmas Pudding Ice Cream,
Leftover food kept us going for a week in various reincarnations. No turkey curry, and somehow the bread sauce found its way to the back of the fridge and was not discovered for well over a week. (I think this deliberate on R’s part.)
New Christmas tree this year. Gone has the natural tree with falling needles, and now a metal and plastic affair which should see me out.
Selina had originally bought me the Michael Eavis and Emily Eavis “Glastonbury 50” book for Christmas. It would have been a brilliant choice. Unfortunately, I had already bought it back in November. R had not communicated this fact to Selina when she had asked if I had purchased any books recently. Luckily, Rosemary told me that Selina was enquiring about my book purchases, so I reminded her of “Glastonbury 50”. Quickly she phoned Selina, but it was too late; Selina could not cancel the order. No matter, it was passed on to Ravi, one of the friends whom I took to Glastonbury.
During Christmas Day, I read several tweets from Glastonbury fans who had received multiple copies of the book. Several with two copies and at least three had three copies of the book.