Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Light Years Away

Saturday 4th September 1999

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frog leapbackswimmer waterboatman IT IS A SUMMER'S EVENING but with just a hint of autumn chill. As we walk down to the pond three Frogs hop in. A backswimmer waterboatman hangs from the surface film.

trajectory I enjoyed planning out this gif animation. To make the action smooth I sketched the arc of the jump then divided it into 17 sections. I traced the position of the frog's eye, the starting point for each of my sketches, from the points I'd marked along the arc.

It sounds complicated, but if you try doing one of these animations you'll soon find yourself analysing movement in this way.

frog animation The frog has been saved as a transparent gif, making it possible to put it against any background. I didn't have a suitable pond sketch handy, so I tried it against this photograph.

Hope it works!

Square of Pegasus The Square of Pegasus rises over the back lawn, dwarfing the 'W' of Cassiopeia, a constellation that straddles the Milky Way. There is too much light pollution in this part of West Yorkshire for us to see the Milky Way but scanning with binoculars shows rich starfields and brings out the colour of the individual stars.

Andromeda galaxy through binocularsAndromeda galaxy Through binoculars the Andromeda galaxy near the Square of Pegasus shows as a misty patch the size of a peanut. Its light has taken more than two million years to reach us so we are seeing it as it was when our first human-like ancestors were living in Africa. But the misty patch itself isn't an instant snapshot of the galaxy as it was then. The patch, the bright centre of the Andromeda galaxy, is actually so large that the light from the stars on the furthest side of it probably started its journey towards us ten thousand years before the light of the nearest stars.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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