Friday, April 25, 2008

The Zodiacal Light and Lasers in the Sky

A few times recently we have noticed a glow in the western sky after sunset. We had thought that it might be some light pollution coming from the main center of the village. This would not be a major problem as La Palma has very strict laws governing light pollution. So this evening we decided to go out for a drive having spotted this glow and find out where it was coming from, and to our surprise we found that the glow did not have a terrestrial source. Having read a bit I discovered that what we were seeing was what is known as the Zodiacal Light. This is the light from the sun being reflected off very small grains of dust in orbit around the Sun. It is only visible in dark non light polluted skies. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a picture of this but I will keep an eye out and try and get one.

When we got back from our little drive around to try and find the source of the glow, as we got out of the car I looked up to the sky as I normally do and noticed something in the sky. What I saw was a straight line across the sky. This is the 25W Laser which is projected from the William Herschel Telescope to provide an artificial guide star for the adaptive optics system which allows the removal of the effects of the air turbulence which is what causes the stars to twinkle.

30sec Exposure showing Laser

2 1/2 minute Exposure showing Laser tracking stars

Work in Progress

Now that we have the cement mixer set up in an easier position. We have been able to get a lot of jobs done around the house, the two main ones are the position for the water tanks behind the old toilet block which also includes the pipe work for the connection of the new bathroom toilet into the existing sewerage system. This has meant digging out an area and building a block wall to hold back the earth from the top level outside the house.

Also we have been working on putting the roof on the roof. What I mean by that is that on the roof we have a small block built cupboard which will house all the equipment for the solar panels. This week we added the top to this, and once the cement has set we will top this off with some traditional Spanish tiles.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The "Bloody Stupid" Jonhson Sand Delivery System

Well, actually I have decided it can't be called the "Bloody Stupid" Johnson Sand Delivery system as it does in fact work. For those of you who are wondering "Bloody Stupid" Johnson is a character from the disc world novels by Terry Pratchett. The character was an inventor who would make wonderful inventions only they would always have some little quirk which made them next to useless. For example he made a sorting machine for the post office which had a wheel in which PI was exactly 3 and hence would distort space time and sort letters before they had even been written.

But lets get back to the sand delivery system. We have rigged up a system using a piece of large plastic tubbing, some corrugated iron, rope and some wire, and water piping that allows us to shovel sand and gravel in at the top and at the bottom is the cement mixer ready and waiting to receive it's load. With this set up it means that we no longer have to shift large buckets or wheelbarrows full of gravel down every time we want to mix concrete.

The cement mixer in operation to load all you have to do is turn the drum to face the other direction and pour gravel in from the top.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Where, oh Where, DOES all the Crap Go?

This is a very important subject on our minds at the moment, OK it may sound crude or something,but it is REALLY important. Why I hear you ask. Well one of the major tasks this year is to convert the old water tank in to a new bathroom. We now have a roof on the tank and a opening into the house, the next job is to start the pluming, and one of the tasks, as part of that is to lay new drains. Now for you who live in the UK and most major towns this is not hard - find the nearest man hole and connect the new drains to that. Well it is not quite that simple here....
We in the country don't have main drains.. So what do we have? We have what is called a Poso Negro, the direct translation of that is "Black Well", and up to last week we did not know where it was and in what condition it was in. We had some idea that it was located close to the current bathroom, (which is a 1m x 2m concrete hut in the garden). We thought that it might be under about half a meter of soil that was dumped in front of the loo to bring the ground up to the level of the house. Well last week I started clearing a space behind the loo to hold the tank for gray water recycling. while doing so I notest that there appeared to be a concrete wall below the loo....
After some work with a hammer, there was a hole and behold we have the Poso Negro, and what is the poso negro? A large hole in the ground, about 1 meter square and 2 meters deep, (well to the serf ice of the water, I am not going to find out how deep that is!!!!), With the loo on top of it.
So now all I have to do is put in the new pipes and close up the hole and we have somewhere for the new loo to empty into.