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adrastea

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Everything posted by adrastea

  1. Hi, I was just out taking some wide-angle shots of the sky (around 8pm BST) and I saw a satellite suddenly get brighter for about a second or two (mag 3 or 4? just a guess) then go dark again. My understanding of Iridium flares is that they are very sudden but this lasted a second or two. The camera unfortunately was pointing elsewhere so I didn't capture it. How can I find out what satellite it was? I know there is a website somewhere where you can find out when Iridium flares happened, but I don't think that's what it was? Thanks.....
  2. I try to catch 'em all the time and miss... so well done!
  3. Hi Lee, another welcome from Scotland I'm 23 and a bit of a sci-fi obsessive too. don't worry, I don't have a scope either right now... get around with the binoculars pretty well when the weather isn't deciding to be grumpy. So you're a Taurus? Happy birthday then I'm Cancer but, uh, I didn't say that I'm an astrobiologist (well, I like to pretend I am), so when I catch ET I'll let you know I love Canada, you're very lucky to live there. I'd love to move over there one day...
  4. you're right about that - I remember the first time I saw it through a scope as well. I was just small and it changed the way I saw everything. I think it is the defining moment of addiction for quite a lot of astronomers....
  5. Hey, it's a shot, and that's all that matters! That's something at least, especially with the ring system relatively open. Get as many shots in as you can, if you ask me. It's hard to get anything reasonable with all the clouds around, and this is much better than anything I can come up with.
  6. lol I just read the press release... I get it now
  7. I'm not sure I completely understand the point, but I'm in too
  8. I keep meaning to set the alarm, but it hasn't happened yet... well done for getting a glimpse of my favourite planet
  9. Well, once I stopped giggling about poisonous butt grubs I checked out those pictures. He did say he didn't spend a dime in acquiring them and my first thought was, "yeah, cus you made them on your computer..." I didn't read all the conspiracy theory BS though, I'm trying to digest my dinner.
  10. Wow!! Oh my gosh, what a beautiful piece of equipment. I love old instruments, so much. Yeah, if I had the money, space and an expert team of observatory dismantlers I would certainly give it a new home and love it beyond all measure... oh well, we can but dream...
  11. This may well be the downright stupidest question that's ever entered my head. So much so that I'm cringing to ask it. But it's bugging me so I have to know... This might not be the right forum so I won't be offended if it's moved. I know that sound doesn't travel in space as the distance between molecules are too far apart to allow for vibrations as the wave passes through them, but then how does radio astronomy work? Is this just because radio waves are just part of the EM spectrum, and therefore don't behave like sound? If that's true then, umm, what's sound? I'm not the brightest penny in the jar, I know...
  12. Hey, thanks for posting this. I've always felt that the current model of solar system development leaves a little to be desired, so it's nice to see some research from an alternate system. Papers like this form loads of questions in my mind, but I'll refrain from asking them until I at least make an effort to try and find the answers for myself..
  13. Hey Rob, Thanks for describing SXR208 - it sounds fantastic. I just don't think I could afford it, though. Especially with having to get the flights on top of the cost of the course. I love the idea of doing spectroscopy - this is my field, what I really want to do. Sounds brilliant. It's been a long time since I've been in a real observatory so it just sounds really exciting. I'm aiming for the same degree - physics with an astronomy bias. What are the maths residential courses like? It seems like it will take me so long, though. S282 / S283 feel like they're going so slowly and that I'll never get to the end. I'm still really enjoying it, though. Thanks for sharing your experiences Maya.
  14. Hi Nigel, nice to hear from you. Got any tips? What do you think the likelihood of getting a PhD is if you DON'T come from a strong background in physics or maths? In marine biology, the easiest way to get a top job at one of the really good research institutes is to undertake loads of voluntary work. There is sort of a "standard" model of experience which is generally looked for, including diving, offshore experience, surveying etc. It's a good way of networking, proves willingness, teaches loads of skills and is great fun. Getting a PhD in marine biology is virtually impossible without these extra, "unwritten" experiences. Is there an equivalent to this in astronomy? Any "expected" skills? I suppose programming is the only one I can really think of. I don't know of any astro-volunteering programs, or opportunities to get involved with research or visit top observatories. What about professional bodies? As in biology, there seems like a lot of good ones and a lot of irrelevant ones. Any that are mandatory requirements for future PhDs? Hope you don't mind all the questions would love to hear more about what you do, if you can spare the time
  15. I would never say that Maths, App. Maths and Computer Science is measly - it sounds great actually, I suppose my initial response is "I wish I had the brains..." I do agree that education IS really important and when I applied for my PhD (turned down of course - thank you very much STFC) the supervisor was initially very encouraging about my "unconventional" background. I've had more professional astronomers than marine biologists (two, as opposed to none ) encourage my "other" interests. That encourages me a little. But, yes, it's a very snobby field. I'm well aware of that. I've faced academic snobbery so much, especially in the last year and it turned me away from marine science. I just thought that I couldn't put up with a lifetime of nastiness in a field I cared nothing for. I know I could put up with it if I was doing something I enjoyed, though, because I have before. I think career satisfaction gives you a kind of immunity to the: Sometimes I think science is MORE prone to some of these things than other fields. At least in, say, marketing, everyone hates each other but they at least have the decency to be two-faced about it I was talking to a theoretical physicist friend who was, briefly, praising my interest in astrophysics. He asked me what kind of theoretical research I wanted to do, and I replied, "oh, I think it will be more observational." The conversation came to an abrupt halt. When I dropped out of Astrophysics (I was also at Hatfield uni), I felt vulnerable at all the "meanness" and intellectual in-fighting. But I've seen enough of other fields now to just think that people are, in general, mean... especially when they feel threatened by someone else who might, potentially, steal their job / funding / research proposal / results. AstroTiger, it's interesting what you've said. I really relate to it a lot - especially about IT being the pool for ex-scientists. I do really like computers though, I always have, and I probably will end up in an IT whilst I finish my physics degree but I don't see it as the "consolation prize," but more another place where I can learn about things that will undoubtedly be useful in astronomy. Plus, I enjoy it. (So if anyone has any tips about getting into IT with a less than relevant degree, I'd love to hear them!!) Just one more thing about independent research - that's something I'm planning, too. Through things like www.transitsearch.org and maybe saving up for as many cool instruments as I possibly can (I love your Coronado PST, astrotiger), I do think a lot of work can be achieved by amateurs. Besides, not EVERY professional is a snob with an IQ higher than the temperature of the sun's photosphere and an ego to match - there are a lot of people who struggled for years to get the hang of astrophysics and suddenly had their "aha" moment because they just couldn't bear to give up. Even if you only meet one or two people like that in the course of a career, I think those are the ones who give you hope to never give up. I'm also thinking of working in science communication - possibly just an astro-blog for now. It would be nice to write about professional developments for an amateur audience as I think the whole world could benefit from knowing more about what's going on in those expensive and shiny research labs... Besides, what else is an unconventional background good for ?
  16. I want the space sticker book but yeah, there are some great looking bargains on there. hope you find something suitable!
  17. Well that's not strictly true - I'm married, have a mortgage etc. I know that complicates things even further but I don't want to use him as an excuse to not chase my dreams - that's not fair on him - it makes it harder but yeah, as everyone has said, I don't want to live with regrets. I've spoken about this with my husband so I know it won't be easy - even if I had the chance I wouldn't be able to just run off to Mauna Kea or something. But there are women astronomers, there are women astronomers who are married and have kids, male astronomers who are married and have kids - I don't know if the situation is different than in any other part of academia. Besides, there are space companies, like Logica and EADS Astrium, who are based in the UK, there are all the telecom companies, and as time traveller says, there are near-earth observation watches, there's - I don't know - private enterprises etc. All those engineers, technicians, software developers, scientists, researchers... not just astronomers sitting under a telescope but manufacturers, designers, educators, faculty members, theoretical physicists, satellite technicians... I think any one of those fields I would be happy in. I don't care about the money - people who do what they really want to do have a different kind of richness and besides in my own experience people who are really passionate tend to be successful in the long run anyway (idealism I know). There are obviously loads of other fields related to the space industry that I know I wouldn't be happy in - finance, admin, that kind of thing. I guess I have a pretty good idea where I do and don't want to go after all.
  18. I'm just getting the hang of my 10x50s. I'm always amazed at just how much I CAN see.
  19. That's where I've made my mistake... when I dropped out of astrophysics years ago I convinced myself I didn't care, and that I'd be quite happy going in a different direction. The good thing is that the path I've chosen isn't COMPLETELY irrelevant (marine science - I have a harder time convincing the marine scientists that it's relevant to astronomy than I do to the astronomers), but it's not relevant enough to jump straight into a PhD (I did try). The scary thing is that I've already spent 4 years at Uni, am £25,000 in debt because of it, can't get a real job in my field as I have no passion for it and know now that I'm not going to be able to let astrophysics go, ever. Trouble is I also can't go back to studying full time, so that's another 7 years for the physics degree PLUS, say, another 3 years for a PhD. I'm not worried about spending 3 years doing a PhD because it's still original research, so it must still feel like you've "made it" even if you haven't... but I might even have to do another MSc beforehand which would be another year and another five grand. By this point I'll have spent 15 years in higher education before I even get the chance to get a relevant postdoc position. But there's nothing else for me to do. Nothing else I care about - really, I've tried them all. I do biology, writing, customer service etc., all half-heartedly. I don't want to live my whole life half-heartedly!! My medium term aim is to try and get an IT job which will at least help me build up the kinds of skills I think I might need. I've wasted so much time already, I can't imagine wasting any more. In fact every job I apply for (I'm in that fun "graduate recruitment market" situation right now) I can't help but mentally wondering what the potential is. Even if I couldn't be a research astronomer I just don't think I could stand to work anywhere other than in the space industry in general. Even if that ends up being a software engineer for a communications satellite. I know what I want to be and where I should be, I just ended up being somewhere else. Even when I was doing my Masters I was most interested in the parts relevant for astrobiology (e.g., extremophiles, antarctica etc). I even wanted to do my dissertation on "comparative oceanography" - i.e., tidal forces on Europa. I may not know loads about which Messier object is where but I do know my science.... I just can't prove that I know it without another degree. Hopefully by the time I graduate this time around I'll be a decent amateur astronomer as well as having the scientific background. Thank you coatesg for the links, I'll go through them now. The trouble is, all the careers advice are for school kids, not bemused biology graduates in their early twenties! That's what really worries me. By the time I qualify, I'll not just be competing with people my own age with experience, but the brightest and best kids 10 years younger than me with flawless academic records and genuis-level IQs. Not only that, but even if I do get the job I dream of, I'll probably have to move a lot, which will be harder I think because I'll be like, 30, and settled in my life. Oh well. It all sounds really tough and scary, but then, again - what else am I going to do? I just can't keep my concentration on anything that isn't related to astronomy, which is probably a good indication........
  20. I'm just curious - what does it take to become a professional astronomer or astrophysicist? I'm guessing that you have to have a very good degree in astrophysics from a top University, a PhD, and loads of additional skills in IT, electronics, mechanics etc... which isn't good for me as I've got an only vaguely relevant degree from a fairly minor Uni, but is it possible, in the very long run, to go from being an amateur to a professional? Any advice in that instance? That's my goal, though it'll probably take me at least 6 years to finish my OU degree, which is my second degree and is in astronomy / physics. I know that, as a career, it's a very competitive field and funding is, well... I just hope the current funding situation has changed by the time I graduate. It would be really good to hear some pointers from pro (or semi-pro) astronomers. Most useful would be any advice or pointers on good ways to fill my time between now and finishing my degree. Ideas about relevant jobs, work experience, even volunteering etc., would be really useful. I did ask my careers advisory service but they were less than useful.... (BTW by professional I just mean anyone who makes all or a percentage of their income from astronomy-related activities.) Hope no-one minds me asking. Maya.
  21. oooh, preeetty!!! I guess that means we're in the Giant Crossbow constellation...
  22. I've done S194, S151 and am currently doing S282 and S283 together, started them in Feb. My maths is supremely rubbish so I struggle a little on S282, and I also haven't studied physics since GCSE so I'm going quite slowly. S283, however, is brilliant - my first degree and my masters are in earth science / marine science so the whole lot just sort of fits. I'm aiming for the BSc in Physical Science but I'm going to backtrack a little first - I'm going to do S207, MST121, MS221, maybe MST208 and MS208. I want to make absolutely sure that my maths is up to scratch before moving onto the level 3 astronomy and physics courses which I've heard are pretty hard to wrap ones head around.
  23. tangental thought: it would be quite an interesting mental exercise to take the distances to known nearby stars as determined through parallax, etc., and then visualise the whole thing in three-dimensional shapes rather than the 2D constellations. I suppose they could be plotted on a graph to see if the 3D shapes look like bizarre creatures, kind of like wire-frame models of three-headed beasts or the like. It would take some imagination, but I wonder what people would come up with? PS I didn't think the original question was particularly silly, I just assumed it was about astrology (i.e., what constellation is the sun in now), but I suppose my fledgling astro-brain got miswired somewhere...
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