Wednesday, March 30, 2011

President Obama visits another Science Fair

That's our President visiting the New York City Science Fair:

During his trip to New York City yesterday, and between interviews with three network news anchors and a speech dedicating a new building to late-Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, President Obama made an unexpected detour. The President dropped in on the New York City Science Fair—a venue that pretty much sums up the meaning of “win the future." And the reason why? “Whenever I get a chance to go to a science fair, I go," the President said.

Incidentally, there's an upcoming Delaware science fair that I would have liked to volunteer for, but it conflicted with an astronomy panel I'm serving on. Yes, scientists end up spending their time judging each other's proposals. It's the best way to allocate scarce resources like grant money and telescope time. So Science Fairs may be pretty realistic.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

LSST simulation

I like this video showing what the LSST would look like, with a beautiful night sky:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Astronomy News: Joint Statement by President Barack Obama and President Sebastian PiƱera

Today's statement by the Presidents of Chile and the USA mentioned astronomy:

Both Heads of State highlighted the effective collaboration in the fields of astronomy and astro-engineering which will allow the operation of the LSST and ALMA telescopes in the northern Chile, involving an investment of 1.5 billion dollars, with a close collaboration between public and private academic and research institutions in both countries.

I am very excited about LSST right now.

Friday, March 11, 2011

In memory of astronomer James Elliott

When asked, I often say Carl Sagan (COSMOS) and Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) influenced me most to become an astronomer. However, my first astronomy memory is cutting out the New York Times article describing the discovery of the rings of Uranus to bring to school. (I think I was in 1st or 2nd grade.) Today I see that astronomer James Elliott, who made that discovery, has died:

In 1977, using a telescope in an airplane, Dr. Elliot led a team of Cornell University scientists to observe the planet Uranus when it passed between Earth and a star. Flying at night over a patch of the Indian Ocean where Uranus’s shadow was to be cast, he had the foresight to turn on his equipment more than a half-hour early. This allowed him to record a series of slight dimmings that provided the first evidence of Uranus’s rings.

I never met him nor could I have told you his name before tonight, but his work was inspirational to me.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"First Blast" at LSST

An exciting time for a new telescope is "first light," when the first images are taken. This picture is "first blast" for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope LSST at Cerro Pachon. They've begun leveling the ground for the telescope's base. I joined the "LSST Science Collaboration" and have been working on astrometry issues.

There's even an LSST webcam so you can watch the leveling.