Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Astronomy Internship - Day 4

Generally my sleep schedule adjust itself relatively quickly and I'm up till 2am and sleeping until 10. However, I still haven't been able to get myself on Pacific Time and still about two hours ahead. So I've been going to sleep closer to 11pm and waking up between 7 and 8.

That was a good thing today given that the fire alarm went off at a quarter till 8 in the dorm we're living in. So at least I was awake. Unfortunately, I was in the shower.

So after jumping out quickly and tossing some clothes on, I headed outside to join everyone else. As anticipated, it was a false alarm. But since it was almost 8 by the time we were let back in, we all just headed to the dining hall.

I've decided that, should my sleep schedule get adjusted, I wouldn't mind missing the breakfasts here. I'm relatively certain that their scrambled eggs are of the carton variety and probably contain little to no real egg. Additionally they're quite often watery which does not go well with my stomach. While I generally like a good amount of fat in my bacon, since that's where the flavor is, I don't much like it when it's all fat. The sausage wasn't too bad, although dry and somehow grainy. The french toast yesterday was good though. I would really just like a bagel and some cream cheese though.

After breakfast, I had a bit more free time and then it was off to learning.

This is the building it appears I'll be spending the large majority of the time in. It's about a 15 minute walk from the dorm I'm staying in, but isn't hard to find. Gee, I wonder why:

In our morning session, we got a crash course in the workings and calibrations needed for CCD imagery in Astronomy. I had a course in this 2 years ago, so it was mostly a refresher for me. It's also what I'll be discussing in my next Astronomical Data post.

Lunch wasn't provided for us today, so I instead walked around the campus and enjoyed the scenery:

The library is one of the stranger buildings on campus it appears. From what I'm told, this glass atrium is the main entrance. It goes a few stories underground, only to come back up in the building you see behind it and to the right.

The campus also has some amazing landscaping and interesting plants:

I also found some new friends:

Heading back towards the astronomy building, there's a very nice sundial at the end of one of the main campus walkways:

While I didn't spend the time to completely figure out the sundial, I do like how the shadow of the sun clearly falls on the curved line that represents the Ecliptic.

I then saw a few of the other people in the program playing with Chinese yo-yos (also known as Diablos). This is Brendan:

He's quite skilled with it and extremely impressive.

This guy is another person in the program that before today, had never tried using one of these (his name escapes me at the moment). He seemed to pick it up quite quickly and after about 20 minutes of playing with it, he and Brendan were able to sucessfully able to pass Diablos between one another:

Then it was back to work. Now we had to put what we'd learned to use on some data taken at Mount Laguna Observatory (MLO) last summer on July 4th when NASA crashed a massive probe into comet Tempel1 (!hy? To see if it had a cream filling of course).

I'll leave the details in the process to my next post on astronomical data, but it took about 2 hours worth of work to calibrate 5 images (although closer to 50 were used in the entire process as you'll understand when I make my next post).

Once we finished for the day, Dr. Sandquist (the head of the program) let us into the school's planetarium. For an antique, it was still pretty impressive.

Dinner was next up on the schedule. Afterwards, most of us headed back to the dorm for a few games of pool and foosball. At 8:00 six of the ten people in the program went back to the astronomy building and crunched more data for another set of images that we'll be working with tomorrow afternoon.

Fortunately, the processs went much smoother this time. Sadly though, something seemed to go wrong on the last step for a few of us, and no one could figure out why. Thus, we decided to leave it till tomorrow morning and ask one of our supervisors.

There's Brendan and Tiara trying to figure out one of the data reduction processes in IRAF.

Once we all finished and/or gave up, we headed back to the dorms again and I played Dance Dance Revolution with Brendan and Tiara in their room for a few hours and headed to bed.

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