It seems like ages since I’ve posted and, indeed, it IS ages since I’ve posted. The reason is that I have very little to write about; we have had near unbroken cloud cover for over two months and the rare night it has been clear, or partly clear, there’s been snow on the ground and it’s been too cold and unfavourable for observing.

Added to which, I’ve developed a potentially serious liver problem (I have an enlarged and painful liver) and find bending around, e.g. to look through the finder or moved the scope in and out of the shed, difficult. It’s hopefully not life-threatening or anything like that but it is a nuisance. As to what the problem actually is, time and MRI scans will tell. The annoying thing is I am not a heavy drinker and, apart from getting a bit pissed at parties during my 20’s, I never have been.

The Webb Society AGM got postponed due to heavy snow so my talk will have to wait until the late spring or early summer when it is rescheduled.

Watching the news over the last few days made me think back to my trips to Australia. They are having their wettest summer in 100 years and half of Queensland is under water, while it is also raining in Sydney where the first day of the fifth and final Ashes Test is affected by the wet stuff. Last year, it rained a LOT when I was there and it was frustrating both for observing and birding. While it’s an awful situation to be in, having your premises flooded and possessions ruined, with no end in sight and I certainly take no pleasure in seeing the disaster unfold on the news, I can’t help thinking back to a Greyhound Australia coach driver last year, who could not resist the temptation to brag to the Poms on his bus about how we British ‘f**ked up’ (his words) by sending the convicts Down Under while continuing to live in the cold wet British Isles. “Mate, we live in paradise” he boasted to me. I am not sure about that at present, especially as his home town is Rockhampton which is currently being inundated by rising water.
Listening to some Australians, you’d think it’s endless sunshine there and they certainly like sticking it to us Europeans about how crap our weather is compared to theirs but, in truth, it’s not like that, even accounting for freak weather. Southern NSW and Victoria, especially the Melbourne area, has – or can have – very British weather, as does Tasmania.
I also can’t help thinking Australia’s climate is changing, certainly in the east, although I expect this is likely to be temporary. The years-long drought is over and it’s cloudier and rainier more than it used to be. Every time I see posts from Aussie observers on forums such as Ice In Space, clouds and rain seem to be a bigger issue than in previous years with no end in sight.
Anyway, I hope it doesn’t get any worse for them and that the weather clears up soon and it goes back to being a little slice of paradise because it is a pretty place. Good luck to the flood victims in Queensland, it is a horrible situation for them.

Now, the Ashes series…despite having already retained the little urn, I now hope England crush Australia in the final Test and win the series 3-1… 😀

‘Stargazing Live’ starts on the BBC for three nights tonight. Unfortunately the weather does not look as it it will co-operate. The Vectis AS has a public observing night on Wednesday the 5th and we currently have our fingers crossed for a clear evening.

I have no no plans for 2011 regarding travel. I am not going to TSP this year and the only astronomy-related things I have planned are the Isle of Wight Star Party and, depending on when it is re-scheduled, the Webb AGM. I do hope we get some good clear nights as my observing program has stalled, thanks to near-endless clouds, and I have made no inroads into the Herschel 400 or the Herschel II (which I am also doing at the same time) at all this winter.

Anyway, Happy New Year and may we all have many clear nights in 2011.