A New Month, A New Podcast

Well, I’m back from LPSC and have jumped straight from one kind of busy to a new kind of crazy. As some of you may know, Nick Rattenbury is leaving the Jodcast and the rest of the team (including the original Astronomy Blog author Stuart Lowe) are stupidly busy, soooooo Fraser Cain and I decided to help them out and adopt their show to make sure it keeps going. The first episode of the new Jodcast, under the new branding of Astronomy Cast, is now available. Check it out on the Jodcast Website.

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IYA taking shape

IYA taking shape

About a year ago I got a random email from Doug Isbell asking me if I’d be interested in being part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA). I’d previously heard about this project, but having gotten a good last out of the non-event that was the World Year of Physics, I have to admit I hadn’t given it  much thought. But… When you’re asked to think about helping build something you give it more then a passing brain firing. As you know, if you’ve been reading this for a while, I let Doug suck me into the IYA program and now I’m a chair of the New Media working group. A year later, I’m proud to be part of this organization, and I think IYA will be something that is more then free lapel pins at conferences. I...

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In Search of Organization

In Search of Organization

Everyday, life seems to get a snert more complicated. As IYA gets closer and Astronomy Cast grows, the number of projects I’m involved in is increasing and the projects are increasing in complexity. For the past year one of my colleagues has been trying to sell me on Microsoft Project, but I’m a Mac girl, and that just doesn’t fly for me. Instead I found this little gem of a program: OmniPlan. It allows me to carefully allocate my time, and when writing grants it’s an excellent tool for allocating the time of everyone involved. There’s just one problem with OmniPlan: it’s a stand alone application designed for a manager, but not designed for a team. In organizing Astronomy Cast, we started off looking at Basecamphq September...

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Wheeee – It’s a Wii Remote in Physics!

Wheeee – It’s a Wii Remote in Physics!

The following is a guest blog post written by Dr. Lenore Horner of SIUE (a physics professor who works down the hall from me and who has the best toys in the department.) In late October or early November of last year, eons in academic life, one of our graduate students introduced me to something that I think is going to have a dramatic impact on teaching physics and on how we interact with computers, especially in the classroom. Why do I think this is going to be so important? It’s cool, it’s powerful and flexible, it’s cheap, and a fair number of our students already have or want one. The gadget I’m referring to is the remote for the Wii gaming platform, sometimes called the Wiimote. The Wiimote measures acceleration and position in...

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Your Place in Space

Your Place in Space

It is very difficult to get a three dimensional perspective on our galaxy. Stuck as we are inside it, it took us a long long time to figure out how far we are from the center, and how far we are from the outer edge. It is hard to figure out which is up and out toward Andromeda when we don’t exactly have a perspective on which way is down out of the galaxy. It is all just a three dimensional mental mess. But there is software to help. Keith Ebbeke send me a link to some neat software called “Where is M13?” This straightforward software allows you to see side-by-side views of the galaxy from the top down and edge on and see where things are located from both perspectives at the same time. You can also switch to a sky view, and see where things are...

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Not your (academic) Papa’s Laser Pointer

Not your (academic) Papa’s Laser Pointer

One of the cool things about my life is that I occasionally get asked to review things. Mostly, I get to read books I otherwise couldn’t afford, but sometimes some really cool technology crosses my desk too. Most recently, techlasers sent me an Infiniti 125mW Green (532nm) laser. (For reference the Federal Laser Product Performance (CDRH) Standard considers 0.385mW the max that should go into your eye! See here). This is an OM#G bright laser. This is a laser that the laser safety officer on my campus (a good friend in the office across the hall from me), made me register and agree not to ever use as a laser pointer indoors infront of students ever ever ever. (Really. Do not use this thing on a movie/overhead screen.) This is a laser I want to use to build...

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