Friday, 19 October 2007

Afternoon excursion to Dunsappie and Duddingston

Thursday afternoon I went on an excursion with a group of six Americans, including Laura Dunham, whom I had met two years earlier. They wanted to visit some interesting spots that I might know. After lunch I suggested a drive round Arthurs Seat, stopping at Dunsappie which is a place I had spent a lot of time at when I first started investigating the landscape. I felt drawn to it many times, photographing a midsummer sunrise from there back in 1994. Laura and her group felt a strong earth energy, which is not surprising as Dunsappie is a volcanic vent. The views are impressive, to the north, east and south. A lot more to be said about Dunsappie, and this is a good spur.
The weather was sunny and bright, with a slight chill in the Mid-October breeze.

On the way from Waverley station to Holyrood.

Arthurs Seat from Dunsappie.

A rock feature on Dunsappie that has intrigued for many years! Laura said a prayer here which I felt appropriate.

I then suggested driving down and round to Duddingston, which lies directly below Dunsappie, and is an interesting place, the church, loch, and village being very picturesque. Sometimes I wonder what is going on! The road to Duddingston at the Pollock Halls entrance was just being closed by workmen, so it was down round past where we started and all the way round in a clockwise direction to Duddingston. Only to find that the church gate was locked. A local lady advised us that we could never-the-less gain entry to Dr O'Neil's garden through the Manse entrance. Everyone loved the garden, and the view of the loch. We sat down by the waterside for a while, chatting and just taking in the view and appreciating the stillness and the quiet.

A couple of photos in Dr O'Neil's garden at Duddingston.

Time was becoming an issue as they wanted to be back at their Roslin hotel before dark. Cal, the driver didn't want to be navigating in the dark, which is understandable in a strange place. My original plan of heading down the coast didn't happen, but it was a nice afternoon anyway.

We parted in the High Street as they were off to St Giles cathedral and I down Cockburn Street for my train home.

Venus distance 0.618034 A.U.

Keeping an eye on Venus, and Mars, in the morning sky at present, I checked Stellarium to find out when Venus, and Mars, was at its closest. It seems to have just passed this point, but on Wednesday it was approximately 0.609 AU (Astronomical Units. 1AU being the distance from Earth to the Sun.) At 20.03 GMT, 21.03 BST on Thursday, that is last night, the distance had increased to 0.618(034) AU, the exact phi number. This distance would also have been true a couple of days previous, which I missed. It is perhaps more coincidence than of any significance, but as Venus is a Phi object in relation to the Earth, forming a pentagon every eight years, I note it anyway.

This set planetary patterns is from Bronowskis's The Ascent Of Man, page 190. The caption is:

A sense of the heavens moving round their hub and the hub was the round earth. The diagram shows the paths traced out by the planets as seen from the Earth. The Ptolemaic theory tried to explain these. The photograph shows the movements of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, (right to left) recorded by long exposure in the Munich Planetarium.

Venus and Mars enlarged.

Emphasizing the importance of astronomy to navigation making the point that the 'New' World did not use the stars for navigation purposes, whereas the 'Old' World did, attributing the seafarers of the Meditteranean in the Greek era with combining adventure with logic, 'the empirical with the rational - into a single mode of inquiry'. He makes the point that although Astronomy is 'not the apex of science or of invention. But it is a test of the cast of temperament and mind that underlies a culture.'

Whether the geometry in the landscape of Britain and the Baltic can ultimately be attributed to Meditteranean seafarers is a debate I don't consider vital for now!

Mars is increasing in luminosity as the Earth swings round towards its nearest point, Mars being in its apparent retrograde loop.

One observation I was not aware of till noticing in Stellarium that a good pointer to north, other than the two stars in Ursa Major, is a line through the gap between Rigel and Bellatrix in Orion through Capella in Auriga. At the oblique angle through the gap in the two Orion stars, it is a more accurate indicator than that of the two UM stars. Once seen Orion is easily identified, and Capella is bright. And if the point at which Orion is at its zenith, nightly in the winter sky at least, a very accurate North south line can be determined.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Solar Eclipses - N.A.S.A.

Watching the Moon pass Venus, Saturn and Regulus, and realising Regulus sits on the ecliptic, it seemed possible that there might be a solar eclipse about to happen. I checked in Stellarium, and it seems that this time round, close but no coconut. In Stellarium, the Moon passes just below the Sun, later today(11th Oct 2007), and becomes a new moon.

I decided to check to see what astronomers made of it. This site by N.A.S.A. predicts the next total solar eclipse to be August 2008.

This site has tables giving eclipses, both solar and lunar, from as far back as 2000BC, to 3000AD:

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

A couple of handy astronomy sites

A couple of sites I've found which are both good but both limited, but together allow a good grasp of the sky and its objects, and Stellarium shows the sky as seen. Mine is set to a Paris viewpoint, am still playing and haven't adjusted for Edinburgh. Celestia is not Earth-based. Space travel is possible!

The First

The second:

some images from Celestia:





Druid School - Tara na Ri

interesting site, become a Druid, Save Tara: Tara na Ri

Moon and Venus weekend 5/6Oct 2007

The Moon rising over East Lothian, across the water, photo taken at Seafield:

Two photos of the Moon and Venus, taken from Canonmills Service Station, around 5.30 GMT, 6.30 BST:



two again, some twenty minutes later:



Astrology/Astronomy plug-ins

From this site: Widgets Astrology World

Moon phase:

Moon position:

Planetary interaspects, whatever they may be:

These should update regularly!

Friday, 5 October 2007

Moon and Venus

This shows Venus and the Moon in the eastern sky on the morning of October 4th, approximately 5.30am GMT, 6.30am BST. Saturn is to the left of Venus, both straddling Regulus in Leo, neither recorded on this image. Mars is also not shown, but is between the Gemini twins, and Sirius is also rising, again not seen in this photo. Procyon, Canis Minor, is the other star seen forming a near right angle with the Moon and Venus.

Around 5.55 am GMT, dawns light increasing.

These photos don't do the sky justice. The Moon is now very near Venus and Regulus. A thought here, is that Regulus is on the ecliptic, and so the Moon's position can be judged accurately from its relation to Regulus, as it passes! The Moon varies by some 5+ degrees either side of the Sun's path! Something else to watch for over the coming winter months. On checking my Planisphere, I note Virgo is also on the ecliptic. Sky-watching is a bit of a hobby when I'm working nights.