Wow two observations in one week! I know that sounds pathetic but with my schedule and the weather that is pretty good. I managed to see Uranus. It was a little cloudy here and there but after my magnitude study I think the limit in my backyard is about +11.0. Not enough for some really cool stuff but way better than my binoculars and enough to help out the AAVSO. So that made me pretty happy. Now I need to get a case so I can take it out somewhere actually dark! I want to see what the limiting magnitude will be then.
Finally got a chance to take the telescope out again. I was trying to do a magnitude study on the telescope but kinda got side tracked. Craig and I looked at the Andromeda Galaxy and then Craig figured out how to hook stellarium up to the drive on the telescope. That was fun 🙂 Magnitude study later!
Last night I took Bell out for some observation time. I aligned the telescope to Vega, Deneb,and Alpheka. You might be asking why Alpheka and not something like Altair or Arcturus? Well its because I have lots of leaves from trees in the way and that was the best I could do last night. After alignment I used my 25 mm lens to do my variable star observation of Chi Cyg.
I submitted a magnitude of 7.8 but since the neighbors behind us decided to keep their porch light on and pollute my sky with unnecessary glow, I am pretty sure that the magnitude I submitted has an error of probably plus or minus 0.3. I wanted to observe a few more variables I had picked out but the damn trees are in the way so it was either wait until late or get a chainsaw and start chopping. I do not own a chainsaw (something I am thinking of remedying) and staying out really late was not in my plan for the night.
I also messed around with some of the filters I have. Actually, I did a lot of just scanning the sky and just looking. I had no real plan other than the variable star stuff so I just messed around with the sky tour button on the telescope and noticed that everything is behind those damn trees!!! You know I am all about nature and how wonderful trees are but the one in my neighbors yard that drops apples on my driveway and obstructs my view we might need to have a little chat with a chainsaw…grrrr. I also noticed that I really need a granny chain for my glasses since I have to keep taking them off and have no where to put them. Oh yeah and Perseid Meteor Shower time!!!! I think the peak is around August 12th.
It finally happened I bought a big girl telescope. I know what you are asking yourself don’t you have a degree in Astronomy and teach it? Shouldn’t you have had one a long time ago? The answer to that question is no. You see my living situation was never suited to owning a telescope and the money was always elusive. Finally, after years of apartment living we moved to a house that has a nice sized backyard. However, I didn’t immediately run out and buy a telescope because that money thing hung over my head pretty heavily, plus I had no enabler.
Fast forward a couple years to November 2012 when I was asked to volunteer for the Science Olympiad and run the high school section of the Astronomy competition (ooohh that was fun.) I was nosing around looking for some more info for the competition when I ran into the enabler to buy the telescope. That enabler is the American Association of Variable Star Observers, AAVSO , which I believe were partial sponsors of the Science Olympiad Astronomy section. Anyway, I thought to myself I should join this group since that is what I did my masters thesis on and I am really interested in variable stars. So I joined. Little did I know what kind of awesome I got myself into.
From their mission statement “The AAVSO is an international non-profit organization of variable star observers whose mission is to enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.” A whole giant post should be dedicated to this group but for now you really need to go to their website and check it out (AAVSO). So how did all this get me a telescope. Well I took an online class that they offered to get me started (a very nicely ran course by Mike Simonsen) and once I started to do observations to submit (yes even in the freaking city you can do this) I just felt like my binoculars were not really giving me what I wanted. So I did some research and some large soul searching (damn money.) After the realization that this telescope was a lot like a baby and that there will never be the perfect financially sound time to get one my wonderful husband clicked on the golden shiny amazon button. Three to four days later my special delivery was here and I carefully picked her out of her box to fasten her to the tripod. No she is not gigantic by any means nor is she a beginner telescope but she is perfect for me.
It took about a month for her to see first light since the stupid weather would not cooperate at all. Have a drought problem just send me there, I will buy a telescope, and it will rain constantly for a month! At first light we saw the rings of Saturn and we formally named her Bell after Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. I have seen the rings of Saturn in a much larger telescope before but seeing it through my telescope almost put me into tears. I am so happy. Last night I did my first observation that was submitted to the AAVSO with Bell (chi cyg). I also showed Craig Albireo which he had never seen before. It was wonderful. So we spent the non-existent money but it made me so happy and excited. We only have this one lifetime why wait to do those things that you are most passionate to do. Thank you Craig and thank you enabler..AAVSO.
I have not updated here in a long time…I have just been really busy. I am hoping at some point to put up some astronomy articles but I just cannot seem to find the time to do that. I have been slowly researching a new globular cluster which I find interesting NGC 6656 and I hope to maybe put some information about what I learn here … but alas something will probably divert my attention!
Now that the 6 week, 4 days a week, at 8 am physics class that I just recently taught is over I can post a comment on something I noticed about my class. Women made up 62% of the class. Now you may not think that this is a big deal but it is to me. Over the years of teaching at various institution I have always noticed that the number of females in my science courses are low with the exception of astronomy that tends to be a pretty even mix. Even while I was an undergrad I was one of a small handful of women students in physics and in graduate school I was the only woman student in the graduate school for physics. So I am pretty used to it.
The reason for the low number of women taking science courses (especially physics) I can only guess is because girls are not necessarily encouraged as they grow to investigate the areas of science. If you look at product placement in the past for things like chemistry sets, microscopes, and telescopes usually they show boys happily playing away on the box. It seems to me that in the past the attitude toward females has been, don’t girls just play with dolls, do their hair, and go clothes shopping…isn’t that all they are excited in??? Shouldn’t you be just out there trying to find a good man to marry so he can take care of you and think for you??? Well perhaps this is finally changing…..considering I noticed a number of newer chemistry set boxes and the like have both genders on the cover.
The reason for the higher number of women in my course may be a fluke which I hope is not true. I am hoping that as girls are being brought up in the present and future that they are being introduced to the areas of science with just as much vigor as their male counterparts. In fact maybe this is the reason for the higher number of women in my course who plan on becoming doctors, engineers, and yes even physicists. I am pretty sure that if my dad hadn’t given me a chemistry set, a microscope, a telescope, a computer, and all kinds of books on astronomy I probably wouldn’t have pursued the path I did. So I say hurrah to more women in science…it is not just a boys club anymore!
I am currently trying to learn American Sign language by taking a class through continuing education. It is to say the least a daunting task while teaching a physics course this summer…perhaps I will survive!
Not of the world but of the semester and since it is the end of the semester the long standing research project is rearing its ugly head again. However, I have been intrigued by coursera and I have thought about doing a couple of their classes. I also signed up to take sign language this summer which starts at the end of May. Hmmmm…maybe these are enough other things to procrastinate about so I will work on my research?
My last month and a half has been non stop work. When I say non stop I mean non stop. I now seek out even the smallest 15 minutes of time for myself (even writing this has to be quick.) I wake up and I work….I go to work and work (probably a good thing)..I get home I work til the moment I crash into bed. I do not sleep so much as go into mini coma’s. So…I await spring break and then the end of the semester where I may be able to emerge once again into the real world.
I never do that stupid practice of at the beginning of every year make some ridiculous statement that is suppose to I dunno make me feel guilty to eat cheesecake or force me to do something outside of my normal routine. However, this year I have decided to change that a bit and actually make a resolution. Since my whole schedule is messed up at the moment and I am over my head in work I have resolved that every day I will do something fun! Doesn’t matter what it is..but it must be fun. So I am going to post this and then let the resolution begin. 🙂