Friday, June 29, 2007

Crazy Michigander....

This one will be running around Michigan for the next month..... I'll be there tomorrow for a few days. Maybe she'll rub her icy feet on me some night, and then grump about being too hot during the day. Or maybe she'll love the change of scenery. I find out Saturday.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Hale-Pohaku Hike

Christian and I finished observing and made it to HP by 7am to catch a few hours sleep. We had lunch and then went for a hike in the nearby "hills". It was warm, dry, and windy which is a good combo to make liz cranky, but she made it ok. It was a really pretty day there. Always interesting rocks & plants.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Big Island & CFHT

I had two hours of sleep before heading over to the Big Island to start my CFHT observing run. Liz came with, as well as another "neutral" - Christian. It's good to have company. The weather is awesome and I'm getting tons of good data. Awesome times.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Near-IR Imaging

I finally got around to really playing with the NIR filter I bought. It really screws with my camera. I had never really had a good focus, and I finally figured out how to make it work properly. First, the R G and B channels are at very different focuses from each other (chromatic abberations), and to top it off, the proper focus for any one channel is really really far from where I expected. To focus on the Big Island (infinity), I have to put the camera at 3foot focus. Messy huh? Anyways, I've got some good crisp shots and I'm doing the processing now.

One other thing I noticed when trying to stack a bunch of images is how much the images wander. My tripod was "drifting" and "bouncing" with time. When I add together 50 pictures to make a HDR image, I get a bunch of smearing.....

Here's the Mauna Kea telescopes simply added without aligning the images.

Here's the shifts I found - it drifted a bit horizontally, and it bounced & drifted a lot vertically.

After aligning the images (cross-correlating), here's the result. Those who know the summit would be able to find the twin Keck's and Subaru by their shapes. I'm going over to the left-most one tomorrow morning with Liz and Christian to do some observing there. Good thing I'm already night-adjusted.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Big observing run

I'm observing again. This time, a double-header. I'm on Maui Monday-Thursday, then on the Big Island Friday-Monday. I'm finishing up my third night at AEOS, and I've got a giant ungodly mound of data. My hard-drive is crying. I'm crying. I've got a lot of work to do, and I'm trying to get myself off coffee for a little while. Bad combo. I haven't had time here to do anything but sleep, eat, and drive the telescope. No pictures, no timelapses. Instead, I thought I'd share what I've been staring at for the last few days:

A sky-polarization map

And raw data......

The weather has been awesome though. I feel really lucky to have this period - it's going to really help me get going on my thesis. I've got a lot of calibration stuff to do to make sure I understand how the telescope measures polarization, and I just got most of the data to finish that. At first glance, it looks like the scope is a lot better than I thought it would be. We'll see, but that's my guess. I've got a decent start on the giant paper I need to write this year. It will be a monster, and probably all calibrations. Then another one on the data. We'll see......

Oh, yeah. It's my birthday. I nearly forgot, but the Australians (being a day ahead) reminded me. Thanks Carly & Deb! Liz then called at midnight to be the first to physically say it. She's very excited by the whole birthday thing, partly because she's now only 1 year older than I am. And she's excited about food..... I think my main thoughts today were 1) Geezus I've got too much data, and 2) I need some sleep. I'll live it up in Michigan next week......

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Koko Head Hike

Little did Liz know what she was in for today.... Sleeping peacefully, totally unaware of the exercise coming her way.

We hiked up Koko Head with Mark this morning. 1200 feet of stairs. Well, almost. Railroad track that was used during WWII to haul amunition up to the guns on top of Koko crater. Liz's legs were a little shaky.... Actually, really shaky. She was horribly angry up at the top, until we got into the cool breeze. Then she got really happy thinking about food. Mexican food. The best Mexican food ever. For today.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Day on The Nut

Liz "sponsored" me to come out to her workplace on the Coconut Island refuge. She works out in this lab/shack where they grow all sorts of coral, algae, etc. There's even dolphin and sharks in little areas. Very cool. It was a very strong tide day - new moon - and I did a timelapse of the tide coming in. It was awesome. Hawaii doesn't get strong tides, but it was about a 3 foot rise today. The coral was amazing. They even have "touch-tanks" with all kinds of cool stuff growing in it. Liz and I took a walk around the nut and found mango trees and cool beaches. No wonder she's distracted out there......

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I just submitted an ApJ Letter today. It's the first publication on my thesis topic. I'm pretty stoked that I got this done. Now, I can start writing a giant paper describing everything I've done over the last 3 years, and turn that into my thesis. At least, that's how I hope the next year goes.

Basically, I've been talking about this spectral line - called H-alpha - which comes from Hydrogen around a star. I've been trying to get something up on my website for some time now about this research, but I haven't really had the time latley..... Maybe when I'm observing next week and I'm lonely and isolated on a mountain top.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

North Shore Gliding

I met Billy at Mokuleia this morning to try another run gliding. The goal is to get the whole coastline of O'ahu covered once per year. This time we headed down the leeward side, towards Nanakuli. It was a bumpy ride...... But we've got the system pretty much worked out. It's pretty exciting - I'm consulting and sub-contracting in a "small-startup company" doing aerial survey work - Terrapac Imagery! Really, I'm just helping Billy and Sheila put a camera on a plane and use photoshop.......

Liz and I have been crashing at Rahul's place off-and-on the last few days. It's a great place to isolate and focus over on the windward side. I've been in writing mode - I've recently decided to try to graduate a year early and I need to get some stuff written up & published if I'm going to do that. Rahul has this awesome 13th floor view of the Ko'olau mountains and a pool/hot-tub in the apartment building. It's pretty conductive to putting thoughts together, at least for me anyways. I just sit around reading, writing, and editing. I feel most productive when I have something to facilitate spacing-out..... I don't know why, but it helps me put thoughts together.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

From the Pool....

Full of warping, distortion, total-internal-reflection, chromatism, and just plain interesting stuff.....

Monday, June 04, 2007


I just realized that I'll have 5 EPOD's soon. Weird.

Soon: Lenticular timelapses

Maui Shadows

Maui Glory

Mauna Kea


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Kayaking to the Mokulua Islands

Saturday was an awesome day for a kayak. Totally sweet. Beautifully clear. We got a late start but made it out to Lanikai by noon. We paddled out to the islands and found these awesome dried-up tidal pools that had crazy salt-crystal formations. We walked around to the back of one island, then went for a snorkel out there. After paddling in, Sean and I snorkeled out again with Liz, Tanner, and Erin on the kayak. The coral in Lanikai is actually pretty neat. If you can swim out a ways, the water clears up and the coral is still really shallow. I could spend several weekends there....... and I probably will.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Akamai Program

On the 27th, I flew over to Maui to begin the Akamai Short-Course (run by CfAO). I helped to teach this week-long course using a new style (buzzword: inquiry) that I learned in March on Maui at the PDW. It's actually a really neat and common-sense way of learning - try to teach an idea the way you would figure it out on your own.

Instead of sitting through lectures, the kids are shown some interesting things then asked to explain these things to us after they've had an hour or two to play with it. Basically. It's more like teaching science stuff the way science is done. I think the most basic example was one we called color-n-light. We give them colored filters, colored flashlights, light bulbs, projectors, etc. It's their job to tell us how these things work. Anyone could sit through a lecture where you say red+green+blue=white and nod their head in understanding. The interesting things happen when you start making them explain it to you, make a poster on it, explain it to their friends, or make predictions on what might happen when you shine flashlights through the filters. Lots of people come with preconceptions too - some were told in art class that yellow is a primary color. That works in the art world, but for science - it's red, green, blue. Yellow is actually green + red. Others used many colors - ROYGBIV instead of RGB. Read up on it at the Institute for Inquiry if you're interested.

Flying to Maui.

Scott, Ryan, and I, taking images of our reflections......

Ryan being very thoughtful with Scott, Lisa, and Isar.

Making posters to present what they have figured out.

Scott giving a description of career/school pathways. He moves around a lot.....
Giving a tour up at the summit.

A lab on adaptive optics.
Color and light - playing with filters, projectors, flashlights and other things to figure out how color works.

Jess, the long-haired hippie......

Jess and Hilary, in some perfect, should-go-into-promotional-website, happy-worker type advertisement.