Astronomy and the Origins of the Universe

 

I have an increasing interest in astronomy, particle physics and trying to understand what the universe is made of and how it all started.

 

Optical Astronomy

 

I'm currently a very novice astronomer but slowly increasing my knowledge and observational skills. I own an entry level SkyWatcher 130p Newtonian Reflector telescope, mounted on SYNSCAN GOTO computer controlled mount. Unfortunately my home location, being in a city suffers a massive amount of light pollution and only offers very limited opportunities for observation. However I have access to another location in Littondale, North Yorkshire, which suffers significantly less (but not completely) light pollution, The difference in sky visibility between the two locations is phenomenal. I'm a strong believer in the concept of Dark Skies for the UK and support the shut down of street lighting from midnight to 5 am.

insert picture of scope

 

One of my next projects is to convert my telescope to a fully automatic system, so that its is position and image capture can be remotely controlled via WiFi (probably using another Raspberry Pi computer attached to the telescope). Thus allowing observation to be undertaken from the warmth of my house, rather than the freezing garden. I have made some initial progress on this project, now being able to directly control my telescope positioning from the Stellarium software page running on my laptop.

 

I currently have modified Phillips SPC880 web-cam attached to the telescope and on its first use captured the image of the moon shown below.

insert photo of moon

 

Particle Physics & the Origins of the Universe

 

In 200x I was privileged to be a guest of Siemens on a tour of the CERN particle accelerator (Large Hadron Collider) on the Franco-Swiss border . The tour took place just before the accelerator went live, colliding protons at energies approaching the speed of light, and undertaking the experiments which led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson.This is an amazing feat of technology and construction the scale of which is mind boggling and it gives me great pleasure and a sense of pride in engineering to see what engineers and scientists working together can create.

 

The picture below shows me inside the Atlas Machine

 

The second picture is a view from ground level looking down into one of the 100 metre deep access shafts above the 27km circumference circular tunnel under France and Switzerland.