Tuesday, February 27, 2007


"Near ring - far rain. Far ring - near rain"
You might have heard of this old country folklore quote before. It relates to the ring or "halo" often seen around the moon on clear(ish) winter nights.
Last night (as in the changed date and time of this post), we were sitting in the garden and I noticed a spectacularly clear "far-ring" (ne
ar rain)! The photo below is of a "near-ring" actually, but you get the idea..."Moon rings" are caused by moonlight (reflected sunlight of course) being refracted through tiny ice-crystals in high atmosphere cirrus clouds. A ring far away from the moon suggests rain within 12 hours or so; a ring nearer the moon suggests heavier rain in 2 or 3 days. Some people have suggested that the number of stars held within a moon ring gives an approximation of days left before the rain arrives, which is more nonsensical, although a bit of fun!
I write this at 7am the next morning, (8 hours after we were looking at the 'far ring') and we've already had heavy rain, hail and thunder.
"Far ring - Near rain".
Oooh-Arrrh me babbers...

[On the subject of the moon, Britain is due a total lunar eclipse on Saturday night. These events are not rare, though this WILL be the only total lunar eclipse in Britain, this year. The weather looks set fair on Saturday night (at present) , so get out and watch it!]

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Today I was fortunate enough to hear a Woodpecker calling nearby, and was then treated to a wonderful, long view of a male Great Spotted Woodpecker (not a "Greater" spotted Woodpecker as lots of people call it, due probably to the name of the other spotted woodpecker in the UK, the "Lesser" Spotted Woodpecker). After hearing it and keeping my eyes peeled, it flew over my head and began feeding on the large tree at the end of our garden.
One can tell the sex of the (blackbird-sized) GSW by looking at its head. All juveniles (both sexes) have a scraggy red crown for a short time. The adult females will lose all the red plumage and exhibit a totally black 'cap', whereas the adult male will show a bright red stripe on its nape, (as in the photo). The bird I saw was a beautiful adult male, very vocal and not at all bothered by the two huge woodpigeons it fed right between. NB. Should you want to 'attract' woodpeckers to you, on a woodland walk, listen carefully for any calling, then take two flints and tap them together loudly and every so often. Most male (and some female) woodpeckers find this 'intruder noise' intriguing, and will come and check you out! Just do NOT wear a tuxedo and a red scarf whilst doing this, or you might get more than you bargained for...

Friday, February 23, 2007


I was sitting in the garden today, when I noticed a skein of Geese flying at some height (I would guess at approximately 5000 foot or a mile high) in classic 'V' formation. I'm assuming these were migratory geese, flying back to their breeding grounds, as they were that high, and flying in a due east direction. (ie coming from back from Nova Scotia or Geenland etc...). Unfortunately, because they were that high, and no more than (very difficult to see) dots in the sky, I couldn't identify their species, but I might be bold enough to suggest Brent Geese or White-Fronted Geese, something 'interesting'! Nice to see though, and a sign that spring is arriving fast...!

Thursday, February 22, 2007


A view of Saturn which was absolutely mind-blowing - quite literally "out of this world", and its rings (wonderfully clear and a first for me and Anna), through our 18-55x telescope, in the night sky, quite high in the south-east night sky. Amazing!

NB. If you want to know where Saturn is in the night sky at present, look at the moon, it's the nearest bright "star" to the moon. (Only of course, it is not a star - and it doesn't 'twinkle' like all stars do. Saturn will disappear behind the moon on Friday evening - a very rare event, and bound to be a spectacular sight through telescopes...)

[NB Photo was taken from 'Voyager 2 space probe, NOT our telescope!]