Square Kilometre Array Telescope mentioned in Parliament

Whilst checking hansard (the official publication of the UK Parliament) for Trainwatch I spotted this set of written answers published yesterday (26 March 2012) about the Square Kilometre Array Telescope:

Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what his policy is on implementation of the recommendations of the Square Kilometre Array Site Advisory Committee; and if he will make a statement. [101678]

Mr Willetts: Members of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation will consider the report and recommendation of the SKA Site Advisory Committee, and agree on next steps and actions. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) represents the UK in the SKA Organisation and it liaises closely with the Department on SKA discussions.

Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will publish the location recommended by the independent Square Kilometre Array Site Advisory Committee; and if he will make a statement. [101956]

Mr Willetts: The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Site Advisory Committee has undertaken a detailed evaluation of the two candidate sites and has presented its report and recommendation on the preferred site for the SKA to the SKA Board.

All parties involved have agreed that this information should remain confidential while the process for arriving at the SKA site location decision is under way.

Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

  1. whether the independent Square Kilometre Site Advisory Committee has completed its evaluation of the cost and infrastructure implications of the African and Australian and New Zealand bids to host the Square Kilometre Array telescope; and if he will make a statement; [101957]
  2. whether the independent Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Advisory Committee has submitted its recommendations regarding the location of the SKA; and if he will make a statement. [101958]


Mr Willetts: The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Site Advisory Committee has undertaken a detailed evaluation of the two candidate sites and has presented its report and recommendation on the preferred site for the SKA to the SKA Board.

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Photographing Jupiter at Opposition with a Blackberry

On the night of September 21st 2010 Jupiter was at Opposition. This is when a planet is on the opposite side of the sky to the sun. For Jupiter this happens once every 400 days however this year it’s occurring close to the time when the planet is also at perihelion, when it’s at it’s closest to the Sun – that will happen next March.

In addition to this, the planet Uranus was also at opposition and visible in the same field of view with binoculars.

Now not wanting to miss this opportunity (I’ve not done any astrophotography for years), I decided to get my 8″ Meade LX200 out of mothballs and have a crack at Jupiter with my Canon EOS D30 camera attached to the scope using a T adapter/autoguider, so I could have an eyepiece attached at the same time.

Unfortunately, due to not having the battery charged I had to rely on manually moving the scope. However for jupiter you don’t need too long an exposure, so in this case it wouldn’t be a problem.

The following two pictures were the best. Although the camera picked up colours, the size of jupiter in the frame was small, so the results were pretty poor:

So, giving up on that idea I thought about trying the old eyepiece projection technique. This is where you just have an eyepiece attached to the scope and then a camera is focused against the eyepiece. This has the benefit of giving a higher magnification of the view but the downside that a lack of guiding or other external vibration would be evident in the image.

With these problems in mind I decided to try to use the Blackberry’s camera instead, and surprisingly the results were impressive.

The image above is the best one. Nothing’s been done to that image other than cropping it. The following two images are where some enhancement was done to it, but all that was done was to adjust the image levels so that the clouds were more prominent:

In the second of these there’s a small spec in the image. Looking at Stellarium this appears to be Ganymede… not bad for a BlackBerry Bold 9000