Rally in the Valley 2012 (Click Thumbnails to Enlarge)

This years annual Steam Roller, Traction Engine and Vintage Machinery event  ” The Rally in the Valley”, faced an uncertain future after it was cancelled. It was due to take place on Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd July 2012 at Severn Park in Bridgnorth, however The organisers were offered a new location for the event, less than a 2 minutes drive from Severn Park located near Fort Pendlestone instead, so it was rescheduled for Friday 10th, Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th August 2012 instead, at The new location, which is bigger than Severn Park and has the added advantage of free car-parking.

 

The Rally in the Valley began in 2008 as the public launch of the Trevithick Replica Engine CATCH ME WHO CAN, which was being built in Bridgnorth by the Trevithick 200 Charity to celebrate the bi-centenary of the original engine being built at Hazledines Foundry, Bridgnorth in 1808. Since then The engine has been to many events and I’ve also seen the replica in steam down at the Severn Valley Railway, where it was built.

Since then the Rally-In-The-Valley has grown and I am hoping that this years rally will again feature an array of exhibits such as Traction Engines, Steam Rollers, Tractors, Commercial vehicles, Stationary engines, Threshing Machines, Fairground Organs, Showman’s Engines, barrel organ, Sentinel steam wagons plus miniature traction engines and steam rollers, I am also hoping that the replica of Catch-Me-Who-Can, will also be on display.

One of the The most exciting events at a recent Rally in the Valley happened when The owners of Two Aveling & Porter TRaction Engines, who were exhibiting at the event, decided to drive the Traction Engines through the High Street on a busy Saturday morning instead of round it, which brought the traffic to a stand-still for quite some time and caused absolute chaos in the town. Then Having eventually got through the Town Centre they then had to go down the bank towards the river and as they did so the brakes faded on both vehicle, then as they both trundled across the bridge, it started vibrating alarmingly, so they had to cross it one at a time, all of which was great fun to watch.

The Last time I went there was also be an impressive display of vintage farm machinery such as Stationary Engines, threshing machines & vintage Tractors courtesy of the Bridgnorth Vitage Machinery Association., Kinver Model Society were also demonstrating their miniature steam engines such as Catch-Me-Who-Can & LMS 5960 Leander.There were also Lots of great displays taking place in the main arena throughout the weekend , including a a heavy horse ploughing demonstration as well as a cavalcade of exhibitors, Traction Engines, Steam Rollers and Showman Engines – The Highlight for me was when the Owners all blew the whistles simultaneously . A large and impressive display of military vehicles, such as Scammell Tank Transprters, amphibious DUKW, many different examples of World War II Tanks, jeeps, Half-tracks, military Ambulances, military trucks and staff Cars a mouth-watering array of vintage and classic cars and bikes, Commercial Vehicles, vintage Motorcycles and Stationary Engines was also on display

There were also many Awning Displays courtesy of artisans from Blists Hill Museum in Ironbridge who were demonstrating various crafts such as Pottery, Coracle Making, blacksmithing, painting, Dress-making, Corn Milling, basket weaving Longbow Archery & Pipe Making. There will also be a variety of other market stalls, selling traditional arts and crafts, fresh produce, such as Jams, Pickles, Honey, Home made cakes, Wine & Beer.

At This years event, entertainment will be provided The Bridgnorth Ukelele Band and local band Thomson Oldeman will also be performing on Saturday lunchtime (They are also performing at this years Bridgnorth Music and Arts Festival too), and the amazing Victorian music hall style pianist Dr Busker and the Wild Rovers, will be performing live music on Saturday Night in the beer tent. Members of Elcock Reisen Band will also be perfrming as will singer Joanna Rose. Food and drink will be provided by on-site Caterers offering food such as Burgers, Hot dogs, doughnuts, Ice Creams & Candy Floss. For those like me who don’t drive I am also looking forward to sampling the beer that the bar supplier “Hop and Stagger” brewed specially for the event at their micro brewery in Bridgnorth which will be on sale in the beer tent.

The Perseid Meteor Shower

The year’s most spectacular meteor shower The Perseid meteor shower happens this weekend, Over the course of the next four days, Earth will plough through the debris stream left by a giant comet that has been circling the sun since the birth of the solar system. Each tiny cometary fragment that hits our atmosphere is usually no larger than a speck of dust. Yet it burns up with an incandescent display that we call a shooting star. If you want to get technical about it: a meteor.

This year, the Perseids will be visible from the northern hemisphere between 11 and 14 August.The Perseid meteor shower is sparked every August when the Earth passes through a stream of space debris left by the 27-kilometre-wide comet Swift-Tuttle and Every Perseid was once in the tail of Swift-Tuttle, which spends most of its time in the outer solar system, reaching beyond the orbit of Pluto. Then, every 133 years, it dives past the sun, replenishing the supply of Perseids.

If the skies are clear this weekend, the prime times to watch are generally between midnight and 3am. This year the night of the 12th going into the 13th is expected to be the best. But meteor showers are extremely variable and if you have the chance(and can stay awake), watch in the early hours of any morning between the 11th and 14th.

The direction in which to look is the east. If you know your constellations, find Perseus then look at its surroundings. Take a deck chair, blankets and a hot thermos to keep you company. Even in August, you will need the last two. Then wait. The expected rate of meteors this year is a few dozen per hour.

The Mars Rover “Curiosity”

Being very  interested in Science fact as well as Fiction, I was very excited when I read that the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) , which was launched by NASA on November 26, 2011, had successfully touched down safely in Gale Crater on Mars following a complex landing sequence, on August 6, 2012 at 05:17:57.3 UTC ( 06.14 BST)

The MSL is a robotic space probe mission to Mars and its objectives include investigating Mars’ habitability, studying its climate and geology, and collecting data for a manned mission to Mars. The rover carries a variety of scientific instruments designed by an international team. Curiosity is about twice as long and five times as heavy as the Spirit and Opportunity Mars exploration rovers, and carries over ten times the mass of scientific instruments. The MSL spacecraft that transported it to Mars successfully carried out a more accurate landing than previous rovers, within a landing ellipse of 7 by 20 km (4.3 by 12 mi), in the Aeolis Palus region of Gale Crater. This location is near the mountain Aeolis Mons (a.k.a. “Mount Sharp”). It is designed to explore for at least 687 Earth days (1 Martian year) over a range of 5 by 20 km (3.1 by 12 mi). NASA anticipates that the rover will function for at least the limit the parts were tested for, which is four years.

The Mars Science Laboratory mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort for the robotic exploration of Mars that is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of California Institute of Technology. The total cost of the MSL project is about US$2.5 billion.

The MSL mission has four scientific goals: Determine whether Mars could ever have supported life — including the role of water, the study of the climate and the geology of Mars. It is also useful preparation for a future manned mission to Mars, To contribute to these goals, MSL has six main scientific objectives:

  • Determine the mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials.
  • Attempt to detect chemical building blocks of life (biosignatures).
  • Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils.
  • Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes.
  • Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide.
  • Characterize the broad spectrum of surface radiation, including galactic radiation, cosmic radiation, solar proton events and secondary neutrons.

As part of its exploration, it also measured the radiation exposure in the interior of the spacecraft as it traveled to Mars, and it is continuing radiation measurements as it explores the surface of Mars. This data would be important for a future manned mission.I shall be watching what happens with great interest….