Looming Deadlines and an Update
A lot of activity has been happening behind the scenes lately with the CS staff so we have, for the most part, been hiding in the shadows. While I'm waiting for my collaborator on a separate project to call me, I thought I would take a few moments (which, in retrospect, turned out to be several few moments as you can see by the length of this post) to tell you about what is going on.
A few weeks ago Tom Pearson contacted me about writing an article about DSLR photometry. Since then, we drafted an article, submitted it to Sky and Telescope, received a reply from the editor that changes needed to be made, and are now in the process of making said changes. We had originally written the article to be too technical, and the editors suggested we instead show results and discuss how good DSLR cameras can do photometry. Upon reading his comments I said "duhh... why didn't I think of that?" I guess I have spent too much time working on theory instead of doing something pratical. Tom and I are suppose to have a final copy submitted at the end of this week.
I've also spent a little time thinking about how to do air mass corrections for DSLR cameras. This turns out to be a more complicated than I had anticipated. With any luck, after these other looming deadlines, the DSLR Documentation and Reduction team will put out another Excel spreadsheet more suitable for observations around this time of year.
Now, on a non CS front:
The second time I went to CHARA to observe eps Aur., I met Fabien Baron, a postdoc at the University of Michigan working for John Monnier. We spend a lot of time talking about how image reconstruction is done in interferometery (i.e. how we make pictures from interferometric data). The biggest problem in "the biz" is that image reconstruction takes a long time. The eps Aur. images in the Nature letter, for example, took upwards of 5-minutes to reconstruct on a somewhat modern laptop. Using the power of the computers's GPU (the processors on the graphics card) we could potentially speed up the calculation so that what once took 5-minutes, would take 30 seconds! To shorten this paragraph considerably, we're on the home strech. We're putting the finishing touches on the program and are attempting to reconstruct some images for the 2010 Interferometric Imaging Beauty Contest hosted at the SPIE conference this summer. The deadline for this project is this Friday/Saturday.
Even though we have weekly meetings to discuss CS activities and progress on my thesis, I don't see him that often. I know he is teaching at least one astronomy course (on Stellar Interiors, I think) and will be attending the Society for Astronomical Sciences conference this week. I'm fairly sure he has a few additional eps Aur. papers in the works, but they may be related to archived/older observations. He has also supervised some recent inspections at our historic Chamberlin observatory and is working on plans for our observing season at Mt. Evans this year.
Rebecca and Aaron
I know these two are very busy. There's a big project happening at AAVSO which should be finished very soon. After that, normality may be restored at AAVSO headquarters. I expect Doc and Kate won't be made of yarn anymore and Aaron and Rebecca will stop looking like talking chairs. One of my previous employers went through the same thing they are doing right now, and all I can say is "Don't Panic!" (okay, okay, I'm done with the allusions).
Rebecca has been assembling information for the next CS conference in San Fransisco, CA hosted by the California Academy of Sciences. She'll make an announcment about the details as soon as they are squared away. Aaron and Arne have been trying to square away something really, really, really cool to take place this summer... more on that later though.
Well, Fabien is online so I had best get back to work!