Just Another Weekend

Bestival! – it’s that time of year again and, for the third time, Vectis Astronomical Society were asked to provide telescopes at the Bestival.

Thursday and Friday were very cloudy but, nonetheless, we attracted quite a few interested persons to take a look at our ‘scopes even though the were only directed at cranes and ferris wheels. Saturday was almost perfecto clear though and we had almost flawless vies of the moon.

The 12′ dob attracted visitors and, along with the 10’ Orion allowed visitors good views. There were loads of “oh my god” moments and the smiles on observers faces made it all worth the dust and general hubbub.

I like to think we added something to the Bestival experience for the c 800 people who came to see us over he weekend and hope they all enjoyed their stay on the Island.

Light pollution is always a problem a big events like this and despite the efforts of the organisers, the energy efficient bulbs and the use of fewer large floodlights on the site didn’t really help the overall impact in the Island’s skies. The site is huge and really needs some followup work from us to reduce the effect next time.

I got a bike…

Turns out the Scott was not for me after all, the suggested bike was a bit of a cross between hybrid and mountain and a fair bit heavier than I wanted.

In the end I chose a machine I saw quite early in my musings –  a Giant Roam 1 and I ended up buying it from Cycle World in Southampton. They were very helpful on my first visit and very keen to help on my second, particularly concerning getting a bike frame that fitted my size and weight.
Giant Roam 1

Anyhow, the Giant had its first outing today and I’m pleased to report that both bike and rider arrived back in “set off condition”!

I don’t have any way of measuring distance at the moment, apart from a quick measure on Google Earth, and that revealed a first trip of 9 miles, or thereabouts. Not bad for a first ride in about 10 yrs, and i never stood up once!

I probably don’t look that good/fit in shorts and a hi-viz jacket, but who cares about that, I can’t see myself!

I thoroughly enjoyed the first ride and am looking forward to a lot more miles…. Oh, and I just ordered a cycle helmet to complete the mamil look.

Looking to buy a new bike…

Ages ago, when we left Swindon, I gave my bike away on Freecyle. I’ve regretted that for a while now and recently decided to buy a replacement.

After a fair amount of investigation, I’d pretty much decided on a Boardman MX sport 2014 as it gets good reviews, looks good and wasn’t too expensive. Unfortunately of me, I discovered, they don’t make that model in a frame size large enough for my legs to keep pedalling whilst turning corners! My knees hit the turned handlebars..

To be honest I really wanted to buy a bike from an independent bike shop and not from Halfords, now it seems I have to.

I’m now looking forward to next week and having a proper look at the 2015 range from Scott at a shop here in on the Island in Newport.

Updates to follow…

Mending Stuff is Good!

Meade 884 Delux Tripod

A friend recently found that her telescope tripod was damaged even though it was properly stored in the supplied case. The tripod in question is a Meade #884 deluxe field tripod (cost about £180 new) but suffers a few design problems which no doubt caused the problem:

  1. The supplied case is too small to easily pack the tripod
  2. The locking wheels/knobs which hold the tripod in the correct position are on the inside of the legs which means they all bash against each other when the tripod is folded for storage, and
  3. The locking wheels/knobs are made of brittle plastic.

The problem here was a broken plastic knob on one of these locking knobs.

Easy to solve eh? Well not quite, a search for Meade tripod spares gave no real results so I had to find out what these things are really called and then find a supplier. It turns out that they are usually called “Star Knobs” or “Handwheels” in the world outside of astronomy and tripods.


I found a supplier in Portsmouth who arranged to get three for me, and I collected them earlier today. Fantastic service from Cromwell Tools who even called me to let me know they had arrived. I fitted all three just make the tripod look the part and she now has two spares should the problem happen again.

Anyhow, anyone with a similar problem may be interested to know, the thread is M8 and about 15mm long, the Cromwell part number is GAN4255987H (direct product link) and they cost a paltry £1.50 each inc VAT.