“I heard the news today, oh boy…”

…which many will recognise as the opening line of the Beatles song, “A Day in the Life”.  Unfortunately, I had to change the next line to ‘…and was as angry as Hell’ rather than ‘About a lucky man who made the grade’.

Today, on Westminster Bridge in London, people protesting against Government Plans to ‘reform’ the NHS are gathering in an event called, on Twitter, #blockthebridge.  It appears that a few thousand people are gathering, and at the time of writing the protest was peaceful.  Although you might be ignorant of this protest unless you’re following it on social media like Twitter and Facebook, becasue neither the BBC or Sky News have seen fit to report on it.

After all, there is a more important story happening..Sir Paul McCartney is getting married! Yes! We’ve had the interviews with the waiting fans, know that Sir Paul and his bride to be went for a workout this morning, know the colour of the wedding car and it’s just popped up as ‘Breaking News’ on the BBC News channel where we have live footage of a car parked in a driveway waiting to drive off.

Quite honestly, it’s shameful – McCartney and (on Sky) dead pop singer Michael Jackson have managed to provide some suitably anodyne and irrelevant ‘OK’ or ‘Hello’ style celeb puff pieces to cover up that people are fighting for the future of the NHS.  It’s either piss poor editorial decision making or censorship, and given the coverage not given to the Wall Street occupation in the last week I’m going with censorship.

Oddly enough, it would have been John Lennon’s birthday today, and I like to think that as the co-writer of the song I quoted above he would have been tempted to go and join the protesters rather than attend the wedding, had he still been with us – were he not already occupying Wall Street, of course.

And in case you’re interested, the BBC are now showing a bus pulling up at a Register Office….


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2011-10-09

  • The revolution begins at home – Opinion – Al Jazeera English http://t.co/WwXdAorZ via @ajenglish #
  • Shame on BBC and Sky not reporting protests about NHS bill on Westminster Bridge #blockthebridge #blockthebill #fb – censorship. #
  • Jobs was utterley ruthless – @wisemonkeyash – and that's how he did what he did. #
  • Sunday 9th October is International Day of Prayer for the life of Yousef #Nadarkhani http://t.co/HWlrDKzC – please r/t and pray. #fb #
  • “@HLMenckenBot: The average man doesn't want to be free. He wants to be safe. – quite a bit of truth in that. #
  • Kind of scary – Global Financial Meltdown within the month? http://t.co/xPKeHyc2 #
  • Take a look at Hillsborough Forum on Natwest Communityforce. Vote for HF to win £6,000. Go on VOTE!!!!

    http://t.co/N7Ewxneq #

  • Seven things you should know if you're starting out programming http://t.co/r96iOjMF via @guardian #
  • My economic prediction is stagflation. Been saying this for months and given 5% inflation and effective zero growth, I recon I'm right. #fb #
  • #ff @harry_moseley – don't normally do ff, but this is a good cause. God bless you and yours, Harry. #
  • Nice tribute at http://www.apple.com. #fb #
  • Bugger. Steve Jobs has died. Whilst never a Jobs fanboi he was a truly iconic figure. God bless him. #fb #
  • Hobbling to the Rawson! #

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…and yes, I saw Jupiter!

Well, I mentioned in my last post that I was going to haul the venerable telescope out of the garage, set it up and then take a look at Jupiter.  And on the 29th September I managed to do that. (For anyone curious as to the 10 day gap between doing it and blogging it, I’m blaming workload and the fact that my computer decided to kill itself on the morning of the 30th!)

The first thing I have to say is that time hasn’t been kind to the three decade old optics of the telescope, and a suburban back garden surrounded by people who waste half their electric bills on porch lights is never going to be good for any form of astronomy.  But I focused in on Jupiter and after a little twiddling of the focusing wheel and magnification was rewarded by a slightly astigmatic pale disc in the eyepiece. Tracking the telescope manually, by keeping the planet in the middle of the field of view I was able to just make out the faint banding of the Jovian atmosphere, which became clearer as my eyes dark-adapted.

What was fascinating was how quickly the techniques and mindset came back after a good few years not playing with the telescope in this way.  I was also reminded that my gardening duties have been seriously ignored in recent months, based on the dog-roses that were trying to trip me up at every step.

And I was able to see three of the Gallilean moons – which immediately took me back to when I first saw the planet all those years ago.  This is one of the great things about Jupiter as a target for first time telescope users; seeing teh Gallilean moons (which appear as tiny sharp pin-pricks positioned next to the planet) provides a direct historical connection to Gallileo (for whom they’re named) and his original use of a simple telescope to view Jupiter all those centuries ago.

I’ve been reminded that Astronomy is a hobby with a lineage; when we use a telescope we can share the wonder of viewing the heavens through the telescope that was experienced over the last 500 years by countless astronomers, professional or amateur.  By looking at the stars with our naked eye we go back to the first time that some unknown worthy in Africa or the Middle East looked up to the skies one clear night and noticed that that patch of stars look awfully like a Sabre Tooth Tiger….

The skies are available for us all, but like everything else on our planet they’re geting polluted – perhaps time to support efforts against light pollution, starting with taking a catapult to that bloody floodlight that a near neighbour has as a porch light.