A published (astro) photo

by Mike on 7th October 2014


If you’re new to stargazing and want to know what’s up in the night sky each month, then this is the book you want to buy. It’s the Philips Stargazing annual book, it’s cheap (£6.99 at Amazon), it’s handy and it’s full of useful information.

I was surprised when they asked for one of my photographs, especially when there are much more impressive images out there from more esteemed photographers than I. The image they used was this one of the Flaming Star Nebula (right) and IC 410/NGC 1893 (left).

I am thrilled to have been included in this publication, especially as one that I have recommended to beginners and newcomers alike. If you are a visual observer of the stars, this plus a copy of Turn Left at Orion and a pair of 10×50 binoculars may be all you need to get started enjoying the beauty of the night sky from your own backyard.


Buy your copy of Philips Stargazing for the new year from here (following this Amazon link will buy me a small warm cup of tea during a late night astronomy session!):

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikewphotos/6305643483/
500px version (with extra sparkles): https://500px.com/photo/5554609/the-flaming-star-nebula-by-mike-wilson


We get signal! (From the ISS)

by Mike on 7th September 2014

Here’s an image, it might not look like much but it was received in my garden in the Isle of Man, directly from the International Space Station (ISS):

The ISS has recently been broadcasting various images as it passes overhead. This particular image is a little distorted but a fellow radio amateur from the UK managed to get a clearer image (to commemorate Yugi Gargarin, the first Astronaut).
RS0ISS is the call sign that was broadcasting the SSTV (slow scan television) from the International Space Station on 145.800 Mhz.
And kept an eye out on the position of the ISS using the iOS application, “SatExpPro” which plots the real time position of nearly every satellite you could want to track:

I decoded the image using “SSTV” by Black Cat Systems. It was encoded with PD 120 and as far as I can tell, their SSTV application also allows for transmission of an image (which can be customised with text within their program). “Droid SSTV” is also available for Android which can also decode SSTV on the fly.
I’d like to thank Matty from IOMARS who messaged me just before the ISS pass, for the heads up and the downlink frequency 🙂


From the UK to the Isle of Man

December 1, 2013

Almost on this day exactly a year ago a magazine landed on the doormat which changed everything. The Journal of Perioperative Practice’s back cover had an advert for jobs in the Isle of Man. Victoria said jokingly one evening, “We should move to the Isle of Man”. That’s how it started. And now we’re here. […]

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Time to say goodbye

February 18, 2013

  At least for a while. I know I’ve not blogged much recently. My plan at the start of the year was for more time off, more time cycling and blogging and I’ve pretty much failed since I’ve done zero miles on my bike and I can count the number of blog posts and videos […]

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Building a Bitcoin (or [email protected]) mining rig (part1)

January 17, 2013

(These machines were built in the summer of 2011) When I last wrote about Bitcoin, building a mining rig was a very good idea. Today, not so much (depending on how cheaply you can build, whether you have unused hardware you can put to use and how expensive your electricity bill is). However the method […]

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How to fix ICT in schools (a reflection)

June 11, 2012

ICT in schools doesn’t have to be shit. In fact it can be the most exciting subject that delivered well will leave kids inspired, enabled and equipped with the mental tools to lead better lives rather than sitting bored working through a hopelessly  out-of-date lesson plan learning something that they’ll ultimately forget. Since my last […]

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Happy Diamond Jubilee!

June 5, 2012

Whether you’re a Royalist or Republican; taking time off or working, I hope that you enjoyed today’s extra bank holiday day Yesterday was the day of our street party and it went swimmingly, despite the cold and damp weather!   Did you get up to anything exciting this weekend?

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2020 Astro Podcast Episode 1

June 1, 2012

Episode 1 is out now! We introduce the podcast and the night sky, discuss mounts and poo-pipe telescopes and Dave reviews Empire of the Stars, the story of an Nobel prize winning Indian chap who defied authority and politics in the pursuit of the truth… http://www.2020astro.com/episode-1-introduction-mounts-and-empire-of-the-stars/ Click to listen, or check out the podcast directly […]

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A new astronomy podcast from the UK!

May 28, 2012

Drum roll please! I’m co-hosting a new astronomy podcast with my friend Dave Woods. Each episode is a boredom-busting 20 minutes of practical astronomy advice, news and reviews. We’re on iTunes but you can also listen directly on our website through your web browser. It’s also recorded live in a pub, so who knows what […]

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The Helper’s Box

May 20, 2012

Every Friday, Dylan’s class teacher chooses one child to be the Helper for the following Monday. The general idea is that the chosen child puts a favourite toy or object into the box and the class play a game of twenty questions/guess the object with clues given by the child. It’s one of those great […]

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