26 June 2007

new skillz

Just a small update.. I learned how to make composite-color images today, and I made this:

It's the Crab Nebula, which my work doesn't involve, but it's pretty. As always, click for a larger version.

21 June 2007

picture time!

Hi everyone!! I'm back from Kitt Peak, and I totally slept 14 hours last night!! It was awesome!
Anyways, here's a bunch of pictures from the trip. Some highlights are below (click for larger image):

These and more are also available at my Flickr site

18 June 2007

Experiencing Tucson!

Hi, all! My adventures today were nothing short of amazing. We went down off the mountain today, and Dr. Perlman had "tea" with his parents while Laura and Ryan and I went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which was really amazing!! If you're ever in Tucson, be sure to go there. We saw all sorts of animals and plants, including bobcats and otters, and little lizards all over the place! They also have a really nice cactus garden, and we bought a little jar of prickly pear jelly at the gift shop, which we're going to have with our night lunches tonight. We went through a McDonald's drive-thru for dinner since we were getting on towards sunset (which is unfailingly spectacular), and I got a happy meal -- the toys right now are penguins from Surf's Up, and the one I got is pudgy and nerdy and really cute, and he rolls around the floor on his wind-up surfboard :) We've added him to the collection of fast-food toys in the control room here.

As far as observing goes, we're having a much better run of it tonight than the previouis two nights. We started right away during twilight with a gamma ray burst field and a standard star field, and we haven't had any technical problems today (computers decided to fall apart while the last group was here, but we got them into a temporary fix). Unfortunately, it's also much windier tonight, which affects the clarity of our pictures and we may have to close the dome if it gets too bad. It's also colder, which is fine for the 'scope, but means it'll be a long, cold, dark walk to the cafeteria for night lunch and caffeine. But now that we're on the schedule, it's getting easier to stay up until 4:30 am. The first night, I was awake for something like 27 hours with only a few minutes of dozing here and there, and the others weren't much better. Going back on Wednesday will really be miserable, since we'll have been up since about noon on Tuesday and then observed all night -- we're leaving the mountain for the airport as close to 4:30 as we can, since the FIT people have a 6:30 flight ... mine's not until 9:30, so maybe I'll try to nap a little. At least I'll have all Thursday to recover :)

That's about it for now.. my next update will probably be late Thursday, or possibly Friday (depending on how much I sleep!)

16 June 2007

kitt peak!

hi everybody!! I'm up on top of kitt peak right now, we just had some dinners, and sunset's in about an hour so that's when we'll be startin' up the ol' 'scope. to be a hick about it. my room is very cozy and i had a nap when we got here this afternoon... I've been up since 4AM eastern, and it's been pretty rough. BUT I'll have a lot of great pictures of Lord Emsworth to put up when I get back, as well as some of Stan, Laura's koala.

No one managed to tell/remind me that/how I needed to order my night-lunch, but luckily we got here just a bit after 3 and the kitchen lady said it was fine that it was a few minutes late. so i get a night lunch after all :)

um... that's about it. more when i have stuff besides whining about how tired i am.

15 June 2007

picture time!

I figured out how to take pictures from my camera to the computer! Here's what I have so far

the first dinner I cooked -- Rice-A-Roni with vegetables and chicken. And cheese.

Lord Emsworth at my desk. The image is just something pretty, not an AGN.

I leave for Kitt Peak tomorrow!! That's 8 hours of traveling, starting at 6:30AM EDT and ending at 12:15 PM Mountain time. Plus another hour of waiting for the guys (and girl) from FIT. But I'm excited to see the mountains and be a real astronomer!!!! I'll be sure to take lots of pictures of Lord Emsworth to document my adventure :)

14 June 2007

what i'm doing

here's a sweet screencap of what i did yesterday.. I think I'm learning something new today. We'll see.

Also, I started reading Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, which is hilarious!

13 June 2007


Hey everybody. Just finished for the day, which involves finishing all the preliminary processing on the images from 2007 -- hopefully I can finish 2006 before I leave for Kitt Peak on Saturday morning!

What I'm doing (so far) is essentially removing all the noise from the telescope images. There are 3 kinds of noise (two from the chip and one from everything else) that I have to take out using MIRA, which is tedious work, especially when there's 240 images of one thing!

That's about all for work... I met Dr Leake yesterday, and she's giving me a big trash can and a brush and dustpan that her student left last year. Dinner tonight will be rotini with spinach and fish, and maybe some carrots. Haven't decided yet if I want to put pasta sauce on that... maybe. It sounds good, but then I'd have to use all the sauce before I leave. And it's a lot of sauce.

Also, I just bought a (really!) cheap DVD player on eBay, since the computers in here don't have DVD drives and I have no other way to watch Batman Begins! But I have to buy the cables too.. eh. This won't be more than $20 total, which makes me happy. Works-great DVD player for $0.01, anyone? Yeah, I thought so. But shipping was $13.50. Whatever. Hopefully it'll work for 9 weeks.

Oh man, I'm hungry. Time to go make dinner!!

12 June 2007


Great news, everybody!! ("What is it, Dr. Nick?")

So I finally now how to reduce data!! Whoop-de-do! So now I have actual work to do instead of just reading things. Only problems I've encountered so far are when some runs are missing sets of exposures, and another one had such a large image set that it crashed the program. Lots of times. But I'm familiar with Windoze so I persuaded it into submission and have conquered the problem by doing it in pieces.

The cable went out sometime yesterday, and I don't know if it's fixed yet. Another girl came through looking for someone else to call the front desk, because they didn't believe her. So I read a book and listened to the faux-pod instead :)

Uh... that's about all for now. Ken's wife invited me to dinner again, so I'm having "string pie" tonight!! Yummy spaghetti. Also yay playing with the kitties again!

11 June 2007


Hello, all! I'm finally settled in enough to be able to spend a couple minutes typing, so here goes.

My flights into Atlanta and then to Valdosta were uneventful, until I arrived here and discovered that, due to weight issues, only 18 pieces of checked luggage were aboard the plane. And none of them were mine. But they said, oh, it'll be on the next flight from Atlanta (Val Regional's only connect). So the next plane came in about 10:30... and I got the red one, but not the duffel. So right now, I'm waiting for them to call and say that the next plane is in and they have it, but I'm not holding my breath. My dishes and pillows are here, but the pots&pans and sheets (and liquids&gels) are in the one that isn't here. But Ken's family loaned me some sheets and a blanket so I can sleep until the rest of my things arrive. Which is hopefully today. Maybe.

Those were the TINIEST planes I've ever been on!! 12.5 rows, 4 across, no 1st class. Both flights were totally full, too. So I hope my luggage made it out of MKE all right..

In other news, we had to take a shopping trip yesterday to get a few things: TP, a shower curtain, dish soap and towels, a sponge, cooking knives, and a cutting board. Also milk, butter, apples, and spices. Kix were also on sale at Wally World, so I got a box of those and had them and a peach (from Mrs. Rumstay) for breakfast this morning. My toothpaste is still in Atlanta, but there was (for some reason) one hanging around the office here, so I'm using that until mine shows. I also have a bike (courtesy of Ken) with a !new lock (my helmet is in Atlanta), and a little TV on which I watched Sesame Street while I ate my Kix this morning.

Right now we're waiting for a call from the ID office so I can go get my VSU ID, and then it's off to the housing office so I can get a real access card and give back the temp one.

OH! And I know what my research is about now. We're monitoring brightness fluctuations of AGNs (active galactic nuclei) to determine how massive they are. Basically how fast the brightness changes tells us how heavy the black hole is. But I'm sure it'll be more complicated than that.

Until all that happens, I'm busy customizing Firefox. Time for Mouse Gestures!!!

Finally got thru to Los Airport and they say it's there.. so we'll go get it as soon as Ken finishes his advising meeting. YAY I can eat Rice-A-Roni tonight!

08 June 2007

New Post; or, The Summer Begins

Hey all. I'm at home now, busy doing laundry and trying to figure out what to take to Georgia. Coffeemaker? I think it depends on how much room I have. I should take it out and let it dry in case I decide to pack socks in it.

If you want to comment on this blog, go ahead! You need to be a member of Blogger, which is a Google service, so if you have a Google or Gmail account, you can use that. Or get one, they're free. Other ways to get in touch with me (if you're a member) are via Facebook or my DeviantArt account (see below). Otherwise you can just email me, ladymac111@gmail.com or marheins@lawrence.edu.

Ummm.... that's all for now. The dog is sleeping on the kitchen floor next to me. GOOD BOY, RIPLEY!!!!

I'll make a new post sometime. Maybe after the Matt's party on Saturday. Which is tomorrow..