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I normally check the N2YO NOAA satellite predictions alongside the MET office weather forecast, trying to pick ‘good’ passes on ‘good’ days. Because we’re heading into winter, with shortening days and darkening skies, this doesn’t always happen. Today is Halloween, Samhain, marking the end of the harvest and the start of winter; thought to be a liminal time when boundaries thin between worlds. Today I would be out whatever the weather to take part in the nowcast, to tune in to the transmission of an orbiting body. I decided this morning to stay away from the COP26 crowds: stay close to home for a quick escape from the rain, setting up in my usual spot in a park in the Southside of Glasgow. I had planned to head down to the river - get close to the summit site, the UN territory, and the many offshoots – but couldn’t think of an open space (not being used, closed or heavily policed) where I could see the sky. Today the weather became an obstacle – as it does when it makes itself known – and a challenge. How to protect a laptop and a tangle of cables? I can handle rivlets running up sleeves, raindrops on glasses, and there are waterproofs designed for my body. Still, for a city that gets a lot of rain, there’s very little shelter in public places. With the help of my partner I fashion protection for my ground station by balancing two umbrellas on a picnic blanket, on a bench, up the grassy hill in the park. He very kindly keeps the brolly-shelter set up under control while I tune in to the satellite, pointing the antenna to the North North East, into the rain cloud hanging over the city. He points out to me I’m aiming towards the SECC (the COP26 summit site) – on a clear day this is a good vantage point. It’s pretty dreich: consistent heavy rain, but not quite an absolute battering. Normally I would stretch my arm out more, move around with the satellite’s transmission as it moves from NNE to SSW, but this time just stay low and move less in an attempt to keep the dongle and cables as dry as I can. This makes me a bit clumsy and the recording a bit short. I don’t know if the umbrellas have an effect or likewise the extra-closeness of bodies to the antenna. The sound of the satellite transmission comes brightly through the static, through the cloud. A woman appears behind me and asks a question. I think I must look like I’m holding an umbrella without the fabric. It’s a variation of the usual response I’ve got to being in public with an big turnstile antenna (‘what is it you’re trying to do?’) but I don’t hear her at first as I’m listening to the radio transmission with headphones on. Wet dogs run about at our feet. She is friendly, not that interested, just tidying up her allotment in the plot in the park and noticed something unusual. She tells me she is drenched but if you wanted to stay dry in Scotland you’d never do anything, would you?

Date

31 October 2021 11:01:12

Location

Glasgow, Scotland

Country or Territory

Scotland, UK

Name

Alison Scott with help from Aaron McCarthy (who took the pictures)

Satellite

NOAA-18

Radio Callsign

Latitute / Longitude

55.831029, -4.27015