Picking up where I left off, in this blog post I will cover two topics: how we prepare for an observing session and how we conduct the observations.
How we prepare for an observing session.
The answer is short: meetings. Lots and lots of meetings. As part of our proposal we already specified our primary target (eps Aur) and verified that the instrument is capable of observing the star. We also specified at least one A0V star to use as a calibration star for telluric (atmospheric) line removal. In our final meetings, we double-check exposure times, calibration stars, and coordinates. During this time we finalize our observing plan by deciding the order in which we will observe the stars on our list and insert flats, darks, and arcs (all required for calibration) so that we can maximize our observing time.Read more
We have a guest blog article from a coauthor of a recent paper published about epsilon Aurigae. The author describes the system overall for new participants, then describes what they discovered with their radial velocity data. Read more
Observers are beginning to report a sea change. Totality is upon us and the center of the dark turbulent disk is just about to make its presence felt atop the beacon of light that is the F star in epsilon Aurigae.
Photometrically, bumps and wiggles have persisted, a mix of out of eclipse variations and the stately progression of the eclipse itself.
Spectroscopically, the enhanced absorption of shell lines has been waxing and waning as though disk substructure is coming increasingly into view. What we've been seeing is the "morning side" of the disk - the portion that has been facing cold space and is just starting to rotate toward the hot glare of the F star (7750K). As soon as we reduce this week's IRTF spectra, we'll share any info about changes detected in the near-infrared.Read more
I decided to postpone my discussion of IRTF for one more day to announce something even cooler! The DSLR Documentation and Reduction team has released their first set of tutorials for general use. These tutorials walk you through how you can use your DSLR camera (or any other camera that can take RAW files) to do high-precision photometry, acheiving results of 0.01 or 0.001 mag precision!Read more
Before I entered graduate school, I had no idea about the complexity of research proposals, especially those in astronomy/astrophysics.
All telescope time for which I have applied has been peer reviewed. This means that my proposal is read by fellow astronomers/astrophysicists and evaluated against some scoring method. It is my responsibility, as the proposer, to convince the committee that not only is my research interesting, but also doable from a technical perspective.
The basic outline of the proposal process is thus:Read more
During the 1983 eclipse something funny happened in the infrared spectrum. In addition to the continuum from the F-star, additional absorption lines started to appear. This doesn't seem that odd until one considers that some of the spectral lines, carbon monoxide (CO) in particular, did not appear until after mid-eclipse. The high resolution spectra obtained during the ecipse also provided some other interesting details, but I'll let you read the paper to find out those tidbits of information. (As an interesting sidenote, the integration times for these spectra were very long. One spectra i particular took 670 minutes! That's a little over 11 hours to get a single spectra!)Read more
This Tuesday night Dr. Stencel and I have four-hours of observing time on NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) during which we will be observing epsilon Aurigae in the infrared (0.8-5.0 micrometers). I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to offer you a glimpse of what a observing run is like at world-class research facility.
Over the next couple of days I'll be providing details about our observing session. I hope to cover these topics:
- Why we needed the observing time and what we hope to see.
- What goes into getting observing time at a research telescope.
- How we prepare for an observing session.
- How the observations are conducted.
- What the data actually looks like.
- How the data is reduced.
Stay tuned.Read more
We just gave out our first $50 Amazon.com gift card to someone who participated in the signup survey in 2009. So I thought this would be a good time to provide an update and explain what we are doing with this data. A new survey is now being distributed to select people who have been in the project 6 months or longer. So what is it all about?Read more