Beneath Cygnus

I have to admit, I’m not quite sure where I am, other than I’m in Texas and Cygnus is straight overhead. The town is call Quanah, and it is small, and dark, and the desk clerk at the hotel is very friendly and missing a front tooth. Did I mention it’s dark? I was standing in the parking lot of the hotel looking at stars with Sarah and Glen from SAO and a former grad student of mine, Tim Hunter and a former grad student of mine, Tim Hunter (who when not taking grad classes for fun is a tenured prof in radiology – really saying he was my grad student is a bit misleading…). There were as many stars visible in the glare of the hotel as we see in out “dark site” at SIUE. The skies are why I’m here. For the next several...

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In Search of Alien Air

Looking for planets is a difficult task. Planets are physically small (compared to stars), physically faint (compared to stars), and are consistently located next really bright objects (those would be the stars). Looking at planets isn’t much different from looking at bats eating bugs in front of the largest spotlight you’ve ever seen. As the bats swarm in and out of the light, they eclipse a small amount of the spot light, and the fluctuations they create can (with a precise enough detector) be measured (this is an indirect bat detection). The bats can also be detected from the light their little black bodies reflect from the spot light out to an observer. Finally, with night vision goggles (and a lot of care not to actually look at the spot light),...

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Travel, Politics, and other Randomness

Travel, Politics, and other Randomness

This year I’m traveling more than I think I have ever traveled before. Thursday I’m flying down to Texas to attend AstroFest, which is being hosted by the Swinburne University of Technology and their program Swinburne Astronomy Online. Friday morning I’ll be giving a talk on the Improbable Universe (which I’m going to try and record myself practicing tomorrow using a great new mic one of you wonderful readers – whose going to get a thank you card once I get back) sent me). On Saturday I’ll be giving a workshop on who to put astronomical images on a standard system (expect to see a whole discussion on that popping up here too). Today, I’m just being sleep deprived. (*Whine about why below.) But, in my sleepiness, I poked...

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Sputnik in the Corn

Sputnik in the Corn

I now have a bathtub. Yesterday, my husband and I drove 230 miles across Missouri and 230 miles back in the name of saving gobber money in shipping on an acyclic claw-foot tub to replace the one that got removed in the process of trying to save my bathroom from its state of singeing. Along the way I saw many sites, including Sputnik in the corn. Okay, so that really bad image (from my iPhone) doesn’t really do it justice. At the top of this water tower is a lightening rod, and I swear it looked just like a weird corn-field characticture of Sputnik rising above the stalks. It was just too funny not to share. This mutant water tower wasn’t the only silly sight of the day. We also found some place I hope took very large liberties with their name. In the...

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Carnival Time Again

If it’s Thursday, there’s a Carnival. It’s Thursday 🙂 Check out the Carnival at Advanced Nanotechnology.

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