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Topics - Geoffw

Astronomy Group / The Night Sky in April
April 02, 2020, 12:09:06 pm
The Night Sky in April
Venus near the Pleiades, with Orion to the left, on April 12, 2015
Pestilence has arrived on our tiny planet, along with a lingering fear that things may be generally going off the rails. But in such times we can still take solace in the few immutable pleasures of life: beauty, philosophy, friends and family, and the stars.

And there are plenty of stars (and planets) to see this month. The brilliant constellations Taurus, Orion, and Canis Major turn to the west after sunset and are on their way out for the year. Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars rise earlier each night, blazing together splendidly before dawn in the east-southeast on their way to excellent apparitions later this year. Venus makes a remarkably close approach to the Pleiades and slowly grows in brightness each night as the "Evening Star". And a respectable meteor shower arrives later in the month in a dark and moonless sky.

And what's this? A potentially bright comet is on its way to the inner solar system? Comet ATLAS (C/2019 Y4), the last comet discovered in 2019, is brightening quickly and may become a modestly spectacular naked-eye comet in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more at Cosmic Pursuits on this promising comet, but for now northern-hemisphere observers can just glimpse Comet ATLAS in dark sky with a pair of binoculars.

Here's what's going on in the night sky this month (download the attachment below)
Astronomy Group / Orion Nebula taken last week
April 02, 2020, 12:06:27 pm
Orion Nebula

Taken from my grden in Spittal last week.

Family History / Findmypast offer 20% discount
April 02, 2020, 08:01:23 am
Findmypast offer 20% discount

Until 14th April you can save 20% on any 12 month subscription at Findmypast's UK site when you follow this link (if you can't see the wording 20% discount applied below the subscription prices enter the code FMPEASTER20, but it should be automatic when you follow my link).

This discount brings the cost of a PLUS subscription (British and Irish records) down below £100, and means that a PRO subscription (which includes virtually unlimited access to ALL of Findmypast's billions of worldwide records as well as their entire newspaper collection), costs only about 5% more than the normal price of a PLUS subscription!.
A Tale of Social Distancing

I am standing in a queue outside the co-op in Oakley; there are about 6 people in the queue, all standing the required 2 metres apart. Conversation is at a minimum, people with their eyes to the floor to avoid contact except to stare at the shopping bag of the customer leaving the store. Has he/she got toilet rolls and how many, is there any Buckfast left and then the old lady starts to cough!

All eyes are staring at her as the queue moves to 3 metres apart,  then a man in the queue starts to chuckle and says "Annie I told you that smoking those 20 fags a day would get you into bother, this lot looks as though they want to lynch you!" He smiles and looks his fellow villagers in the eyes, the ice is broken, the cloud has lifted and the conversation and tales begin.

I am transported back to my youth. I am 10 years old, it's Friday and my pocket is full of money. Ten bob/ 10 shillings, 50 p in modern money which I have saved over the past month from my half-crown weekly pocket money. I have to earn it though and feed the calves and chickens, collect the eggs, every day before and after school. I look forward to getting bigger and stronger so I can clean out the cowsheds and pigsty and maybe even get to drive the tractor, then I will get more pocket money hopefully!

I am in Bridge Street, waiting in a queue outside the local model/toy shop. A place of wonder, stacked with Hornby Train sets and carriages, Scalextric racing cars, Corgi and Dinky models and most importantly shelves of Airfix models. The comics have been full of adverts for the latest model an Avro Lancaster Bomber, a must have for any model enthusiast. Will they have any in, the excitement and anticipation rises by the minute.

Then in the distance I see someone coming, her blonde pigtails and shining blue eyes visible yards away. It's Sue; she's a girl who sits a couple of desks behind me in the Primary school. We don't talk to girls in school, we're boys we play with marbles and jacks and toy cars and planes and pretend to be heroes like in the Commando books .Girls play with dolls like Sindy and Barbie and giggle a lot when they look at us doing boy's stuff. She comes closer and joins the queue behind me, I move the required 2 metres, eyes glued to the floor, my mouth dry, what can I say? What do you say to girls and then, saved by the bell, the shop door opens, I'm in and there on the shelves is the Lancaster model. Sue is forgotten, the model is grabbed and paid for and I'm off through the door to find my Mum and get home to build it.

Time passes and I am now in the Boys Grammar School, Sue and all the other girls are in Taskers, the girl's grammar school. I see her sometimes in the distance, her hair, her eyes, her smile and laugh always make me feel good, but I still keep to that 2 metres. I am a teenager now, and find myself thinking about Sue a lot. My friends have girlfriends and I begin to think constantly about Sue. I decide I am going to ask her to the cinema, and hop on my bike to cycle the 2 miles into town to ask her.  As I approach her house I see the  "For Sale" sign in the garden, I knock on the door, but no answer. Then a neighbour shouts across the garden, "They've gone, moved to England somewhere, new job, removal van came yesterday". I try to smile, thank him for the information and hop on my bike to ride home, my emotions are in turmoil and it starts to rain. Things have not gone as planned!

Time passes; I meet and marry an amazing woman, raise a family and live and work in Scotland. I travel back to Wales though regularly to see my Mum, who is still on the farm and presents me with a list of jobs every time I visit, but I don't get any pocket money!

I am on the farm, the phone rings and it's an old school pal from my primary and Grammar school days. He says that he has heard that I am down and that Miss Evans has died and would I like to come to the funeral. Now Miss Evans was the primary school teacher who we all loved, she never married, had no family, but treated every child that she taught like they were her own. A very special and much loved teacher and human being.
Of course I went to the funeral and the church was packed. Afterwards tea and sandwiches were being served in the hall and a lot of us gathered there to remember and celebrate her life and reflect on how her teaching and example had made us the people we were.

There were a lot of people in the hall and we took what seats we could as everyone milled about. About an hour had passed and then as I looked up from my tea and plate of sandwiches a pair of beautiful blue eyes were smiling down on me. It was Sue, a few wrinkles around the eyes, laughter lines on her face, short cropped blonde hair and a beautiful smile, but still exactly as I remembered her. Social distancing was the last thing on my mind as I rose and gave her a big hug and told her how delighted I was to see her.
We talked for what seemed like hours, about Miss Evans, our partners and families and how our lives had changed and moved on. Then she said that she remembered seeing me outside a toy shop one Friday and how pleased she was because she wanted to talk to me, because she liked me. But I ignored her, wouldn't look at her and moved 2 metres away, then ran into the shop. She thought I didn't like her and was quite upset and she asked me why didn't I ever talk to her or come closer when we were teenagers. So then I told her the story of my bike ride, in the rain. We laughed and agreed that obviously destiny had plotted different paths for us this time around, but maybe next time!

So when you are next "Socially Distancing" yourself in a queue and someone smiles at you, smile back and engage in conversation. It may be short or long but all social contact helps. We are all in this together and we will come out of it together as a stronger and more united community. Don't be a Clive and Sue!!

Written by Clive Edwards and published on Facebook
Paris Musées, a collection of 14 museums in Paris have recently made high-res digital copies of 100,000 artworks freely available to the public on their collections website. Artists with works in the archive include Rembrandt, Monet, Picasso, Cézanne, and thousands of others.


A host of satellites over Pembrokeshire tonight!

This evening (29/03/20) sees the last bright pass for the ISS over the UK for the next few months. Rising in the West at 20:42 it will traverse most of the sky until it disappears towards the East at 20:48.
At around the same time a chain of several dozen Starlink satellites will begin to rise from the South West and fly by Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi's Nabucco is almost a National Anthem in Italy. At his funeral in 1901 thousands thronged the streets of Milan to watch Verdi's cortege go by. From no where one loan voice started singing this piece which, when first heard in 1841, was a key symbol of the Risorgimento (movement for Italy to become a unified country). It rose to a groundswell worthy of an Olympic Stadium as all joined the swell of voices!

Astronomy Group / Venus, the Evening Star!
March 26, 2020, 04:58:55 pm
Watch this it is a must!!!

Newfound Comet ATLAS is getting really bright, really fast

For years, amateur astronomers have been waiting for a bright, naked-eye comet to pass by Earth -- and finally, such an object may have arrived. The possible celestial showpiece is known as Comet ATLAS, or C/2019 Y4. When it was discovered on Dec. 28, 2019, it was quite faint, but since then, it has been brightening so rapidly that astronomers have high hopes for the spectacle it could put on. But given the tricky nature of comets, skywatchers are also being cautious not to get their hopes up, knowing that the comet may fizzle out.


 THE SOCIETY FOR POPULAR ASTRONOMY Electronic News Bulletin No. 511 2020 March 22
Here is the latest round-up of news from the Society for Popular Astronomy.  The SPA is arguably Britain's liveliest astronomical society, with members all over the world. We accept subscription payments online at our secure site and can take credit and debit cards. You can join or renew via a
secure server or just see how much we have to offer by visiting www.popastro.com/

University of Birmingham

Astronomers working on 'first light' results from a newly commissioned telescope in Chile made a chance discovery that led to the identification of a rare eclipsing binary brown dwarf system. The discovery was made by an international team of researchers working on the SPECULOOS (Search for habitable Planets EClipsing ULtra-cOOl Stars) project. SPECULOOS' mission is to investigate planets
surrounding ultra-cool dwarfs, a category that includes the smallest stars that exist, as well as objects called 'brown dwarfs'. Brown dwarfs are 'sub-stellar' objects, meaning they have less mass than a star but more than a planet. Brown dwarfs are unable to sustain the fusion of hydrogen into helium, a process that powers the light from normal stars like the Sun. Astronomers predict that these ultra-cool dwarfs should host large populations of close-by, potentially habitable rocky planets, offering a wealth of opportunity to explore a diversity of atmospheres and climates.  An example is the 7-planet system TRAPPIST-1, which was discovered by members of the same team. Soon after the construction the first SPECULOOS telescopes, and during testing observations, the team targeted the known brown
dwarf 2MASSW J1510478-281817, since renamed 2M1510, in the constellation Libra. The SPECULOOS observations picked up a distinct signal that led the researchers to speculate that 2M1510 might be two brown dwarfs instead of one, in orbit around each other.

The team turned one of the telescopes to a known brown dwarf. But suddenly the object appeared to get dimmer for about 90 minutes, which indicated an eclipse just took place. Astronomers realised that they were probably looking at two eclipsing brown dwarfs, one passing in front of the other, a configuration which is much rarer than planetary systems. The researchers were able to confirm their hypothesis using two more powerful telescopes, the 10m Keck Telescope in Hawaii, and the 8m Very Large Telescope in Chile. The VLT is based at the same site as the SPECULOOS telescopes used to make the observations. Keck and VLT have sensitive spectrometers that can be used to measure the velocities of celestial objects. In the case of 2M1510, the astronomers detected the velocities of both
brown dwarfs as they orbit one another. The detection of eclipsing brown dwarfs is extremely rare -- only one other such system has been identified to date. These systems provide astronomers the opportunity to measure the brown dwarfs' radii and masses directly, which are fundamental quantities for theoretical models.   2M1510 is also special in that it is among the very few brown dwarfs that has a known age, due to its membership in a nearby cluster of young stars called the Argus moving group.

University of Washington

Late last year, news broke that the star Betelgeuse was fading significantly, ultimately dropping to around 40% of its usual brightness. The activity fuelled popular speculation that the red supergiant would soon explode as a massive supernova. But astronomers have more benign theories to explain the star's dimming behaviour. And scientists believe they have support for one of them: Betelgeuse isn't dimming because it's about to explode--it's just dusty.  Observations of Betelgeuse taken Feb. 14 at the Flagstaff, Arizona, observatory allowed them to calculate the average surface temperature of the star. They discovered that Betelgeuse is significantly warmer than expected if the recent dimming were caused by a cooling of the star's surface. The new calculations lend support to the theory that Betelgeuse--as many red supergiant stars are prone to do--has likely sloughed off some material from its outer layers. Astronomers see this all the time in red supergiants, and it's a normal part of their life cycle. Red supergiants will occasionally shed material from their surfaces, which will condense around the star as dust. As it cools and dissipates, the dust grains will absorb some of the light heading toward us and block our view. It is still true: Astronomers expect Betelgeuse to explode as a supernova within the next 100,000 years when its core collapses. But the star's dimming, which began in October, wasn't
necessarily a sign of an imminent supernova.

Another theory is that huge convection cells within Betelgeuse had drawn hot material up to its surface, where it had cooled before falling back into the interior. A simple way to tell between these possibilities is to determine the effective surface temperature of Betelgeuse. Measuring a star's temperature is no straightforward task. Scientists can't just point a thermometer at a star and get a reading. But by
looking at the spectrum of light emanating from a star, astronomers can calculate its temperature. The light from bright stars is often too strong for a detailed spectrum, but astronomers employed a filter that effectively "dampened" the signal so they could mine the spectrum for a particular signature: the absorbance of light by molecules of titanium oxide. Titanium oxide can form and accumulate in the upper layers of large, relatively cool stars like Betelgeuse. It absorbs certain wavelengths of light, leaving telltale "scoops" in the spectrum of red supergiants that scientists can use to determine the star's surface temperature. By their calculations, Betelgeuse's average surface temperature on Feb. 14 was about 3,325 degrees Celsius, That's only 50-100 degrees Celsius cooler than the temperature that a team had calculated as Betelgeuse's surface temperature in 2004, years before its dramatic dimming began. These findings cast doubt that Betelgeuse is dimming because one of the star's massive convection cells had brought hot gas from the interior to the surface, where it had cooled. Many stars have these convection cells, including our own sun. They resemble the surface of a pot of boiling water. But whereas the convection cells on our Sun are numerous and relatively small --red
supergiants like Betelgeuse, which are larger, cooler and have weaker gravity, sport just three or four massive convection cells that stretch over much of their surfaces.  If one of these massive cells had risen to Betelgeuse's surface, astronomers would have registered a substantially greater decrease in temperature than what they see between 2004 and 2020. A comparison with our 2004 spectrum showed immediately that the temperature hadn't changed significantly which showed the answer had to be dust.


Researchers using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) have observed an extreme planet where they suspect it rains iron. The ultra-hot giant exoplanet has a day side where temperatures climb above 2400 degrees Celsius, high enough to vaporise metals. Strong winds carry iron vapour to the cooler night side where it condenses into iron droplets. Known as WASP-76b, it is located some 640 light-years away in the constellation of Pisces. This strange phenomenon happens because the 'iron
rain' planet only ever shows one face, its day side, to its parent star, its cooler night side remaining in perpetual darkness. Like the Moon on its orbit around the Earth, WASP-76b is 'tidally locked': it takes as long to rotate around its axis as it does to go around the star. On its day side, it receives thousands of times more radiation from its parent star than the Earth does from the Sun. It's so hot that molecules
separate into atoms, and metals like iron evaporate into the atmosphere. The extreme temperature difference between the day and night sides results in vigorous winds that bring the iron vapour from the ultra-hot day side to the cooler night side, where temperatures decrease to around 1500 degrees Celsius. Not only does WASP-76b have different day-night temperatures, it also has distinct day-night
chemistry, according to the new study. Using the new ESPRESSO instrument on  ESO's VLT in the Chilean Atacama Desert, the astronomers identified for the first time chemical variations on an ultra-hot gas giant planet. They detected a strong signature of iron vapour at the evening border that separates the planet's day side from its night side.

University of Sydney

A star that pulsates on just one side has been discovered in the Milky Way about 1500 light years from Earth. It is the first of its kind to be found and scientists expect to find many more similar systems as technology to listen inside the beating hearts of stars improves. The star is known as HD74423, which is about 1.7 times the mass of the Sun. Stars that pulsate have been known in astronomy for a long
time. Our own Sun dances to its own rhythms. These rhythmic pulsations of the stellar surface occur in young and in old stars, and can have long or short periods, a wide range of strengths and different causes. There is however one thing that all these stars had thus far in common: the oscillations were always visible on all sides of the star. Now an international team has discovered a star that oscillates largely over one hemisphere. The scientists have identified the cause of the unusual single -sided pulsation: the star is located in a binary star system with a red dwarf. Its close companion distorts the oscillations with its gravitational pull. The clue that led to its discovery came from citizen scientists poring over public data from NASA's TESS satellite, which is hunting for planets around distant stars. The orbital period of the binary system, at less than two days, is so short that the larger star is being
distorted into a tear-drop shape by the gravitational pull of the companion. To their surprise the team observed that the strength of the pulsations depended on the aspect angle under which the star was observed, and the corresponding orientation of the star within the binary. This means the pulsation strength varies with the same period as that of the binary. This is how the astronomers could be certain that the pulsations were only found on one side of the star, with the tiny fluctuations in brightness always appearing in their observations when the same hemisphere of the star was pointed towards the telescope. The discovery of the unusual behaviour of the star was initially made by citizen scientists. These amateur astronomy sleuths painstakingly inspected the enormous amounts of data that TESS regularly supplies, as they search for new and interesting phenomena. While this is the first such star
to be found where only one side is pulsating, the authors believe there must be many more such stars.


Since early March, Voyager 2 has been quietly coasting through interstellar space without receiving commands from Earth. That's because the Voyager's primary means of communication, the Deep Space Network's 70-metre-wide radio antenna in Canberra, Australia, will be undergoing critical upgrades for about 11 months.  During this time, the Voyager team will still be able to receive science data from Voyager 2 on its mission to explore the outermost edge of the Sun's domain and beyond. About the size of a 20-story office building, the dish has been in service for 48 years. Some parts of the 70-metre antenna, including the transmitters that send commands to various spacecraft, are 40 years old and increasingly unreliable.  The Deep Space Network (DSN) upgrades are planned to start now that Voyager 2 has returned to normal operations, after accidentally overdrawing its power supply
and automatically turning off its science instruments in January. The network operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is spread over three sites around the world, in California, Spain and Australia. This allows navigators to communicate with spacecraft at the Moon and beyond at all times during Earth's rotation. Voyager 2, which launched in 1977, is currently more than 17 billion kilometres from Earth. It is flying in a downward direction relative to Earth's orbital plane, where it can be seen only from the southern hemisphere and thus can communicate only with the Australian site. The repairs will benefit far more than Voyager 2, including future missions like the Mars 2020 rover and Moon to Mars exploration efforts. The network will play a critical role in ensuring communication and navigation support for both the precursor Moon and Mars missions and the crewed Artemis missions.


Astronomers have recently raised concerns about the impact of satellite mega-constellations on scientific research. To better understand the effect these constellations could have on astronomical observations, ESO commissioned a scientific study of their impact, focusing on observations with ESO telescopes in the visible and infrared but also considering other observatories. The study, considers a total of 18 representative satellite constellations under development by SpaceX, Amazon, OneWeb and others, together amounting to over 26 thousand satellites. It finds that large telescopes like ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) and ESO's upcoming Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be "moderately affected" by the constellations under development. The effect is more pronounced for long exposures (of about 1000 s), up to 3% of which could be ruined during twilight, the time between dawn and sunrise and between sunset and dusk. Shorter exposures would be less impacted, with fewer than 0.5% of observations of this type affected. Observations conducted at other times during the night would also be less affected, as the satellites would be in the shadow of the Earth and therefore not illuminated.
Depending on the science case, the impacts could be lessened by making changes to the operating schedules of ESO telescopes, though these changes come at a cost. On the industry side, an effective step to mitigate impacts would be to darken the satellites. The study also finds that the greatest impact could be on wide-field surveys, in particular those done with large telescopes. For example, up to 30% to 50% of exposures with the US National Science Foundation's Vera C. Rubin Observatory would be "severely affected", depending on the time of year, the time of night, and the simplifying assumptions of the study. Mitigation techniques that could be applied on ESO telescopes would not work for this observatory although other strategies are being actively explored. Further studies are required to fully
understand the scientific implications of this loss of observational data and complexities in their analysis.

Wide-field survey telescopes like the Rubin Observatory can scan large parts of the sky quickly, making them crucial to spot short-lived phenomena like supernovae or potentially dangerous asteroids. Because of their unique capability to generate very large data sets and to find observation targets for many other observatories, astronomy communities and funding agencies in Europe and elsewhere have ranked wide-field survey telescopes as a top priority for future developments in astronomy. Professional and amateur astronomers alike have also raised concerns about how satellite mega-constellations could impact the pristine views of the night sky. The study shows that about 1600 satellites from the constellations will be above the horizon of an observatory at mid-latitude, most of which will be low in the sky -- within 30 degrees of the horizon. Above this -- the part of the sky where most astronomical observations take place -- there will be about 250 constellation satellites at any given time. While they are all illuminated by the Sun at sunset and sunrise, more and more get into the shadow of the Earth toward the middle of the night. The ESO study assumes a brightness for all of these satellites. With this assumption, up to about 100 satellites could be bright enough to be visible with the naked eye during twilight hours, about 10 of which would be higher than 30 degrees of elevation. All these numbers plummet as the night gets darker and the satellites fall into the shadow of the Earth. Overall, these new satellite constellations would about double the number of satellites visible in the night sky to the naked eye above 30 degrees. These numbers do not include the trains of satellites visible immediately after launch. Whilst spectacular and bright, they are short lived and
visible only briefly after sunset or before sunrise, and -- at any given time -- only from a very limited area on Earth. Satellite constellations will also have an impact on radio, millimetre and submillimetre observatories, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX). This impact will be considered in further studies.

University of York

Up to 80% of the Universe could be dark matter, but despite many decades of study, its physical origin has remained an enigma. While it cannot be seen directly, scientists know it exists because of its interaction via gravity with visible matter like stars and planets. Dark matter is composed of particles that do not absorb, reflect or emit light. Now, nuclear physicists are putting forward a new candidate for the mysterious matter -- a particle they recently discovered called the d-star hexaquark.  The particle is composed of six quarks -- the fundamental particles that usually combine in trios to make up protons and neutrons. Importantly, the six quarks in a d-star result in a boson particle, which means that when many d-stars are present they can combine together in very different ways to the protons and neutrons. The research group suggest that in the conditions shortly after the Big Bang, many d-star
hexaquarks could have grouped together as the Universe cooled and expanded to form the fifth state of matter -- Bose-Einstein condensate. The next step to establish this new dark matter candidate will be to obtain a better understanding of how the d-stars interact -- when do they attract and when do they repel each other.

Bulletin compiled by Clive Down

(c) 2020 The Society for Popular Astronomy

The Society for Popular Astronomy has been helping beginners in amateur astronomy -- and more experienced observers -- for over 60 years. If you are not a member, you may be missing something. Membership rates are extremely reasonable, starting at just £22 a year in the UK. You will receive our bright bi-monthly magazine Popular Astronomy, help and advice in pursuing your hobby, the chance to hear top astronomers at our regular meetings, and other benefits. The best news is that you can join online right now with a credit or debit card at our lively website:

Hywel Dda Health Board:
Putting our Coronavirus plans into action immediate release 21 March 2020

Putting our Coronavirus plans into action / Gweithredu ein cynlluniau Coronafeirws

As part of our preparations for managing the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic in the Hywel Dda area the health board has begun to enact plans for all of our acute hospitals and other care facilities to ensure that we can keep patients safe while continuing to provide the highest standards of care possible for our population.

Each of our four hospitals in Aberystwyth, Carmarthen, Haverfordwest and Llanelli is developing plans which involve providing designated areas for an expected increase in patients who test positive for COVID-19 and require hospital admission. To do this, some services may need to move or change temporarily to allow us to provide clinical care for these patients in a more appropriate environment, while also ensuring that other essential services continue to run as smoothly as possible.

We will also be putting temporary buildings or tents in place and people will be appropriately signposted to these as they become operational.

From Saturday evening (21 March 2020) the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush General Hospital, also known as Puffin Ward, will be suspended so that it can be converted into a Minor Injuries Unit for adults and children for the duration of the pandemic. Families with children suffering minor injuries will still be able to access care at Withybush via the MIU but those children with acute illness will be directed to Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen.

Over the coming days, weeks and months we will also be implementing changes to other care facilities to help us deal with increased cases of COVID-19 patients and the latest measures follow our postponement of non-urgent operations and outpatient appointments last week, new visiting restrictions and access arrangements for community care facilities. The Health Board is committed to keeping our communities, staff and stakeholders informed about any changes every step of the way and will provide further updates soon.

Dr Phil Kloer, Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive at Hywel Dda, said: "Firstly I want to reassure our communities as far as possible that our number one priority is to keep you, the public, safe and to provide as much continuity of care as we possibly can. Our staff, both clinical and non-clinical, have been working around the clock for several weeks now to get ready for this and I would like to express my deepest gratitude to them and to thank the public, our partners and stakeholders for their understanding and patience.

"We need to act now and what we are doing is in line with other health boards and trusts up and down the country as our NHS seeks to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that some aspects of care may have to temporarily move, change or reduce and the public need to be prepared for that. We will continue to keep our communities, staff and stakeholders informed about any changes every step of the way and will provide further updates soon."
As a retired teacher:

"I want to give a huge shout-out and salute to teachers, this evening, who are now being put on stand-by with the stupidly overdue school closures in the UK. Many of them are sharing their contact information and professional credentials on social media, today, offering to help any parents who might be considering trying to forge ahead with home--schooling - offering advice, resources and their time to support the students we stay in the job to help in the first place.

Ladies and gentlemen, you are absolute legends and I am proud to stand beside you.

Now, if you're a parent considering taking up the mantle of teaching yourself, in these uncertain times, here's what I'm able to offer by way of support from afar:

1) You're not allowed to shout at them.
2) You can't drink at work - and certainly not before.
3) Never threaten anything you can't follow through with.
4) Keep them off their phones for the duration of the school day.
5) If they complain of being bored, then you're obviously not interesting or inspiring them. You need to work on that urgently.
6) No bullying. You or them.
7) Homework is mandatory. Set them research tasks to work on in the evenings.
😎 Give clear regular targets - to aid progress, not to stop them bugging you.
9) No swearing. And good luck with that.
10) If you encounter poor behaviour, you can only send them out of the room for three minutes at a time. When you re-admit them, schedule a conflict resolution session. Your thirty minute lunch "hour" is perfect for this.
11) For every critical or negative comment you are forced to make, ensure you balance this out with no less than seven points of praise.
12) If you have more than one child, ensure you differentiate the learning material so that each child can access and achieve in the lesson. No, colouring-in doesn't count as differentiation. Except in geography lessons.
13) Ensure your child maintains correct uniform at this time. Standards are everything.... even when the uniform of the Apocalypse is only pyjamas.
14) Ask a neighbour from a rival home-school to drop in on you uninvited and observe your lesson through the window. Afterwards, let them spend fifteen minutes telling you all the things you did poorly. Then have them publish their notes in the local newspaper.
15) If you don't feel confident in delivering lesson material, learn it. The internet is there for information just as much as it is for political s@@@-stirring, good old-fashioned dishonesty, cat pictures and morons who refuse to vaccinate their children. Although that last bunch have really fallen off, of late.
16) Marking is compulsory and should be done every evening between the hours of 6.30 to 11.00pm. If your child is too young to produce great volumes of text for you to critique, simply pick up a newspaper, circle every tenth phrase in it, then write your own thoughts on it in the margin. Encourage your child to read these comments at the start of the next lesson. Feign surprise when they don't bother.
17) Vitally important: if teaching literacy, make sure you include some numeracy in the lesson at some point - no matter how arbitrary. But, no, counting the minutes until it's all over doesn't count.

Now, should you be really enthusiastic about sampling the full experience of the professional teacher, these closing points may help flesh it out:
1) Everyone thinks you're doing a terrible job.
2) Everyone thinks you're bone idle and only work for five hours a day.
3) Stop complaining... you're always on holiday.
4) The Government not only hates you, but it will routinely publish criticism of you as an individual and will misrepresent your profession to encourage everyone else to consider you worthless.
5) Feeling stressed? Yeah, that's a thing. Oh, and that brings us to...
6) By the end of the year, if your child hasn't made at least two levels of progress, you better be ready with a cast-iron excuse why not. "Because they're lazy and never listen" is not going to cut it. You should, instead, put on a hair-shirt and beat yourself in front of a committee whilst pledging to work harder next time. Whilst fellow parents stand in a circle around you and reiterate points one to three.
7) Now... do this for thirty years, safe in the knowledge that your pension will be halved for no reason. If you make it as far as retirement.

Most importantly: love and value the kids that are sitting in front of you over the next few weeks. We always do. And it's never been for a wage-slip either."
No evidence behind DIY coronavirus 'test' shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media

Holding your breath for ten seconds 'without coughing' is not a legitimate test for Covid-19. This advice shared countless times on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp--either in block text or as an image--has no basis in fact.

Even if it's been shared by someone you know, that doesn't make it true. And in this health emergency, advice like this could lead to somebody infected with the virus to believe they are healthy and go on to infect others.

The same chain message claims that drinking water will 'wash' the virus into the stomach, where acid will kill it. This is also incorrect. Drinking water does not prevent an infection and there have been cases where the virus has survived in the stomach and affected people's intestines. It's important to call out bad information when you see it.
Health and Well-being! / National Trust Update!
March 18, 2020, 06:16:53 pm
Following the Prime Minister's announcements about the need for social distancing as part of the coronavirus response efforts, many of the National Trust's places are closing temporarily. I know you'll have a lot to think about during these uncertain times but I want to thank you for your continued support and let you know what we can do to support you and your loved ones in return.

The National Trust was founded for the benefit of the entire nation. Our role is to help people and nature to thrive, and we exist because millions of us share the belief that nature, beauty and history are for everyone. We'll try to keep open spaces available as far as possible, including coast and countryside while observing social distancing measures. We know that you and your loved ones are likely to need space and fresh air and we will do all we can to provide this.

And while it might not be possible to visit all our places in person, they are still very much open for business virtually. You can check out our website and our collections online featuring objects and exhibits; download our podcasts and videos, and catch up on what's new by registering for our newsletters. You can stay in touch with us on social media. We have lots of free content for you to enjoy. Over the coming weeks we will be ramping up our efforts to help people connect with nature, wherever they are. There is so much beauty to behold in the spring, even just from our windows.

As always, I want to thank you for all you do to care for the nature, beauty and history that help unite and sustain us. Your ongoing support for our mission is greatly appreciated. The National Trust wishes you and yours continued safety and good health.
Hilary McGrady