Scanning the heavens

Clear skies, what I took for granted as a kid is now a big luxury. There was a time when I observed the skies everyday, now it might be once a year. Yet there is nothing like viewing the heavens with crickets singing in the dark and mosquitoes buzzing in your ears. I record here our session @Crockett Park on 28th August 2016.

We began with orienting the 10″ Dob and took a quick look at Mars and Saturn in Scorpio. Saturn’s rings were particularly dainty. We then moved to some standard objects, the Ring Nebula in Lyra, Dumbell in Vulpecula, M13 in Herakles, M92 between Herakles and Draco’s head, M28. M22, Trifid, Lagoon and the most beautiful Swan nebula in Sagittarius. We also resolved the double of Antares. Sadly by the time we were warmed up it was too late and we had to return.

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Pollen collection

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muscari stack-muscari2 Muscari or more commonly Grape Hyacinth (Asparagaceae). Commonly observed in gardens early spring. Flowers in a raceme. Sticky substance in flower. Z-stacked image.
yellow1 forsythia-stack Forsythia
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Dancing droplets

Recently, there was a landmark paper on a very interesting observation called the dancing droplets.This was published in Nature by the Manu Prakash group at Stanford. We replicated this study at home with great excitement. The key thing is to have absolutely clean slides. In our experience this far, only one brand of coverslips can be used without further treatment to replicate this. We are still trying our new media. Great fun.

Reference:

Vapour-mediated sensing and motility in two-component droplets
N. J. Cira, A. Benusiglio & M. Prakash Nature (2015) doi:10.1038/nature14272

Spider mites on my raat-ki-rani plant

I have provided an extensive description of my investigation into a spider-mite infestation on my Cestrum nocturnum plant. In that the videos and pictures were all generated using the foldscope.

http://microcosmos.foldscope.com/2015/03/22/spider-mites-on-my-houseplants/

 Here I additionally include a video made using my celestron microscope. Both the foldscope and compound microscopes have their own unique differences, but the foldscope is cheaper and much more portable.