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Richie's Blog

6th Chailey Astronomy in the Pub - 21st April 2018
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Wednesday, 14 February 2018 00:00

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Saturday 21st April 2018 from 17:00 at The Five Bells

Come join us in one of the darkest village Pubs in the South East for a evening of Astronomical Discovery

Not only will we have many telescopes setup in the garden for you and your family to view the night sky, but also will have Amateur and Professional Astronomers on hand to answer all your questions, and introduce you to the natural wonders of the night sky.


Dr Stephen Wilkins - University of Sussex
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Talk Title: Exploring the Universe with the James Webb Space Telescope
Bio: Dr. Stephen Wilkins was born in Yorkshire and obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Durham. He then obtained his PhD from the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge and subsequently worked as a researcher at the University of Oxford. In 2013 he accepted a lectureship at the University of Sussex and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2016. His research currently focuses on the very first galaxies to form in the Universe.
Talk Title: Exploring the Universe with the James Webb Space Telescope

Entry is free, so why not join us?

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The Quickening
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Friday, 09 February 2018 03:58


It is not really a secret anymore, but I found out in 2017 that I am autistic.

They used to call it Asperger's Syndrome, which I prefer, but the diagnostic manual changed, so now we are all Autistic. As opposed to the non-Autistic people, who are called Allistic. Whatever it is actually called, does not matter. The more I look back on my life, the more sense it makes. I have a pretty good memory. I've suppressed most of my childhood for years, because for me, an extremely emotional autistic person, it was extremely painful. And now, they are coming back, one by one. And every single one hurts today just as it did then. I do learn something about myself with each one though!

I used to have regular meltdowns as a child (which is what I learnt my tantrums were in 'Spectrum Speak'), and my Mum, bless her cottons, did her best, took me to the Doctors, took me to the child psyche, etc, etc. But no-one knew what to do....

One of the most painful things about my childhood was interaction with other kids. From my early childhood I remember clearly the day 'it' changed. The day that I was no longer tolerated by my peers. I was 6. I learnt very very early on that one-on-one with another human I could cope. My method: the same I use today - showing off! That is fine now, I realise now that I am going to continue to do things that interest me. If folks wish to look over my shoulder, that is fine too.  I suppose it is my way of socialising. I try not to shove it down others throats, but they keep asking me things, so I guess they wanna know, right?

Anyway, I digress...

Back then, that was devastating to me. I was an outcast. My eagerness to please became more and more obvious as I grew up, and the less and less I knew what I was doing wrong. I didn't get the rules. Written rules were not fine, but it was (and still is) the unwritten rules that trip me up. Why can Jane get away with that and I cannot? It is only now that I look back and realise quite how badly I didn't get the rules. I thought I was being treated unfairly. I got frustrated, I got angry, and then they started pushing buttons, because they got a reaction. And the cycle repeats, and still repeats to this day.... They are still out there, they just have different names nowadays.

Yes, I knew I was different, and no, I didn't want a label, or an excuse. They just seemed like cop outs, right? Well, sorta-kinda not it turns out. I am still learning, and having an annoyingly accurate memory for this stuff just, well, sucks.  But also is a bonus too.... Cos although it hurts, at least I can get a handle on what went wrong!

On the day of diagnosis I was free. I had an answer WHY. I suddenly didn't have to worry (so I thought) about stuff too much anymore. The weight lifted off on that day was amazing.

It was...

The Quickening

(Highlander.... Love that film)

Since then, I have been able to release my brain to work on shit I want it to.... mostly.

Don't get me wrong - I don't want any sympathy here.  I am not after a sainthood - I just want to put my own experience out there, because it turns out a lot of folks are in the same boat.  Wondering how they will survive the next day.  So if you read this, and it strikes a cord, well, do what works for you is what I am saying.


Instead of wasting huge effort (and you have NO idea how tiring it is unless you have done it) masking myself totally. Masking is another thing - copying - selecting little bits of Susan, and Greg, and Dinesh, and Jim, mashing it all together to try and make a face that works.....

But here is the catch.... It ONLY works for that person.

I have one for Gini, one for Emily, one for Sam, etc, etc. And sometimes they are incompatible. I will never forget taking one girlfriend home.  I couldn't function - I had to get out of the room, because the 2 masks were so totally incompatible.  I was paralysed.  The more people are present, the worse the problem, and the more tiring it is for me. But those that know me well make allowances. And for that I am glad.

Another example... Looking at people. I've always been good at this part, and as far as I know, folks have never noticed that I glaze over when looking at them. Silly things like getting distracted and pretending something caught my eye. All of it takes brainpower, and when you train yourself like I have, although not second nature, it is doable.

Another one.... Trying to work out what people were actually saying versus what their body language was saying.... People speak, words come out of their mouths. But does the body language match the words or intended action. Sometimes you get 3 signals, all in conflict. Mouth says one thing, head says another, body says something completely different. They might just be worrying, or stressed, but if I watch, I pick it up - I couldn't tell you what made me nervous of that person though, just that I don't trust them at that moment. You watch folks - the amount of out of sync communications that goes on is incredible. And I've had to teach myself that language.... I still get it wrong, but I am not too bad nowadays. (well, I hope anyway!)

I know none of this is actually important NOW this second, right? I mean, this stuff, well, it scars and hurts a bit, but I can cope, right?

That is what I thought.... Turns out, nope, if you do what I did and force all them emotions to the bottom of a pit, stick the most acceptable mask you can on and parade around copying people, it really fucks you up later on in life.... Depression is a bitch of a mistress.... Still, all this understanding seems to be helping with that part of it too, so onwards and upwards.

And so, in signing off, I will just say this....

I am free....
I am free to concentrate on the stuff I wish to in my own head.... sometimes
I am free to be me....

And seeing as it is currently 03:30am GMT, I guess that means I had to get this out before I could sleep..... Just another thing, insomnia. (4am now edited....)

Good Night Everyone!



Original: South Common Observatory - 2018-02-09T0400Z
Edit1: South Common Observatory - 2018-02-09T0400Z
Edit2: South Common Observatory - 2018-02-09T0415Z
(And probably more to come!)

Off Topic: Immigration Crisis? Why?
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Wednesday, 09 September 2015 16:22

Maybe this is the answer to the Worldwide Immigration Mess

Why not remove all borders across all countries? Global population will gradually migrate to the best places - the places they migrate from become farmland (tear a few slums down - not a forest....)

The migrants will either settle, and pay taxes in the country they settle in, or be moved on. Their choice.... Over time, our growing population will settle across the planet - starting with the Western civilisations first (it seems to be where everyone wants to be right now!)

Folks will also move onto different countries and areas over time too, and I bet that gradually, the benefits offered by each country become very similar the world over. Of course, we will all have to bury the hatchet, settle our differences and agree to disagree...

But isn't that a better way for humanity to live?

New Camera - Starlight Xpress Trius SX-814
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Monday, 23 March 2015 03:23

I got my hands on a Starlight Xpress Trius SX-814 camera - specs are here

I've been playing for the last few nights with anything vaguely clear (its been shocking!).  Tonight I finally had a decent sky to play with for a little while, so went back to my old favourite Messier 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy (here for info and some of my other shots).  Mounted as usual on my EQ6 Pro and through the F/7 TMB 115mm running with a Televue TRF-2008 x0.8 Focal reducer.  The camera is mounted on the Starlight Xpress filter wheel via a T-adaptor screw fitting, then into the Focal Reducer, which fits the other side of the filter wheel using another T-adaptor thread.

I managed to get 12 x 10 minute exposures over the last 2 clear nights, and also have started on some 5 minute colour data for fun as well.  Here is the result so far.  That is a satellite in the Green data, giving the streak.  I am not sure which one, but might try and track it down.

Comet C/2014-E2-Jacques
Written by Richie Jarvis   
Sunday, 31 August 2014 23:55

Tonights image of Comet C/2014-E2-Jacques taken from East Sussex with a TMB 114mm @ F/5.6 and a -30 degree C Starlight Xpress SXVR-H18, and astronomik LRGB filters whilst tracking the comet.  Combined in MaximDL and processed in Photoshop.  You can clearly see that I shot with a clear (luminance) filter first - the long white lines (stars trailing as the comet moves), and then followed up with a sequence of 2 minute images through a Red, Green and Blue filter.

One of the green exposures has a faint satellite flare just beneath the comet coma.  This happened at 2014-08-31 22:14:22GMT+0 - plus or minus 1 minute, and shows clearly on the exposure.  Another satellite also passed during the luminance exposures at 2014-08-31T21:27:27GMT+0, plus or minus 2.5 minutes - the faint white line passing to the right of the coma from top to bottom.

12 x 300 second Luminance
5 x 120 second RGB

Full details and a click-to-zoom version here

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