Friday, August 31, 2007

Awesome Sunsets

I've been up in the fog since early Wednesday night. It's been not so good for my data collecting. However, tonight is especially annoying. There isn't any fog, it's just "humid". To open the telescope, the humidity must stay below 85% for half an hour. It's been hanging out at 95%, but you can see the stars. It's horribly frustrating to see the stars and know that you should be taking pictures of them with a 50million dollar facility......

But on a positive note, the sunset was really pretty..... I ran down to the edge of the site and got to see west maui poking out of holes in the cloud. Very cool.....

And, there's some Japanese up here doing some meteor-spectroscopy. It was actually fun talking to the leader-guy. He's from Kobe Uni. Aparently, he's even read my Deep Impact paper. Go figure..... I thought nobody would read it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Observing, some more

I'm observing this whole week. I remember how painful all-night shifts are. Things get a little cushy at AEOS when I only have to work 7 hour shifts like 7p-2a or 10p-5a. You can nap or at least prep a little bit. My first day on, Monday, was a 23-hour work day. Damn that was painful. It started with a lovely 9am "breifing" on how to escort foreign visitors around the telescope. The prof I visited in Zurich is here working on some extensions of the modelling we've been doing. The breifing made me have images of the Bond movies..... Everybody's with the KGB! And all I do is look at stars. It didn't end until 8am when I'd finished calibrating all the different configurations Jeff had me try that night. Jeff is an interesting character. When he gets an idea, he's a man-obsessed. Actually, he's always a man obsessed. When he gets something he want's to do, optimization and ease are out the window. And you have to try everything right *now*. Do it properly later if you find something..... It's a powerful technique because you get to look at a lot of different things quickly, but then you end up repeating work since you didn't actually do anything properly and completely. Or you just make your grad student stay up an extra 3 hours doing it for you. Hmm.... at least I'm earning my salary.

At least there was a total lunar eclipse that made the night interesting. There was a 20-minute period where I had to give up the scope to some other people and I got to go outside during the deepest part of the eclipse. I didn't take any pictures, but Rob Ratowski did - he's one of the guys up here all the time as an "amature". He's not using 50million dollar telescopes, but he's got some damn fancy equipment and takes some really pretty shots. The moon was blood-red and very dim. The Milky-way was out. Very cool! On my way back in, it started to lighten around the edges.

Rob's Moon Sequence:

Rob's Eclipse

Basically, in the last little while, I've tripled the number of stars I'm looking at, and I've expanded away from looking at a single Hydrogen line to other lines of other elements. The calibration and configuring is a pain, but it's somewhat interesting. I'm going to be doing the 5pm-6am routine for the whole week. Hopefully I won't get too run down by the experience. At least now I've only got to do this one week per month.

5 new not-so-emissive stars:
4 new fairly-emissive stars:
I'm really looking forward to some good sleep.....

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Waterfall Day

Liz and I headed out towards Hana on the famous Hana highway. It's a long, windy road that has tons of waterfalls along the way. We stopped off and hiked out to one and went for a swim in the pool. There was some funky red smelly stuff in some stagnant pools down the river.

Note: When driving on narrow, windy, steep roads, don't park your nice new rental car on a non-existant shoulder....... Plants can't hold up cars.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ahihi Kinau

Liz and I went down to the Ahihi Kinau reserve where Judy works. We walked out to La Perouse bay. On the way, saw some goat madness. There are goats everywhere and we saw a huge group of them. The babies were cute and some of them were play-fighting. Too bad they eat everything native. We finished that and talked to Judy for a while about the crazy public. It was extremely beautiful, but really hot. It's a recent lava flow that's on the leeward (dry) side. Crispy.....

Judy had some really interesting stories from the conservation standpoint. She also does some "conservation blogging" for (turtles, snorkeling, Haleakala). I think I would learn a lot from working as a "public servant" in a park, but I think I would become even more jaded about people in general. I met Judy in the visitors center up at the summit - I would go timelapse there on my mornings off and the clicking camera either makes me instant friends (Judy, Mike, Nan) or enemies (Susie). Some of the response I would get from the busses of grandma's & southernes were ridiculous - "Are you going to look at all of those pictures?" "You know, one's usually good enough..." You know, the general idea that "I don't know what you're doing so I'm going to assume it's stupid" stance. The Japanese were usually a lot better - at least they started with "Why so many?". Judy has tons of stories about people tramping on the reserve, harassing turtles, and just being jerks in general. There's this guidebook series, the "revealed" series, that has given away a ton of the good stuff here. While I'm glad info is out there, it has caused a lot of hassle for the residents and locals. The main problem is that some/many visitors are ignorant, rude, inconsiderate, and full of attitude. When you cross private property to find some waterfall, don't dump your trash and insult the owner! Don't park in their lawn. Many of the things that have been "revealed" are now closed to the public because they were never really public in the first place.

The rift-zone - the line of cinder cones that goes from the Haleakala summit to the sea.

A wave spashing through a crack with Kaho'olawe in the background.
A vent with a recent lava flow burping out
A little bay with some kiawe trees and goats!
Goat-child headbutting.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Upcountry Springs

Liz and I are camping on Judy's lawn on Maui till Sunday night. It's really nice to relax and go see some of Maui. Today was a somewhat grey day and Liz and I went up Olinda to a hike to some "springs" that are only springs in pouring rain. No rain today.... It starts in a wood-farm (planted tree-grove) and goes down a big hill to a giant cliff face with hobbit-sized caves that spray water when it's gushing out. Very fun.

I shamelessly stole Jesse's color-bw technique and tried it out on Liz.....

Kahului and some rain from an upcountry view.

Wood farm aka planted trees.

Liz in a hobbit hole in the cliff.
Hardcore "camping" on Judy's lawn..... The first night, there was a horrible dog-poo smell that we didn't track down till the next day when some little dog came over and tried to crap on our tent and in front of Judy's door. The chickens roam the neighborhood at night spreading chickensong.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Many Movies....

I've ended up watching a number of movies lately. I've been pushing pretty hard, mentally and physically, and then I hurt my wrist boxing, so I can't grapple or punch.... It's been good just to run, lift, and relax at night. It feels like recharge time. I have to say the movies have been, in general, a bit more hard hitting than usual. I think my favorites were:

Fog of War - McNamara's reflections on war.

Why We Fight - a documentary about the recent war with an excellent commentary by a retired colonel.

Enron - Smartest Guys in the Room - corporate culture

Fast Food Nation - great story. lots wrapped up in here for me.

I did end up watching some anime like Nausicaa with Liz. Miyazaki is awesome. Spirited Away, Castle in the Sky, and Princess Mononoke are awesome. And they're awesomeness is most awesome in Japanese, preferably without subtitles. The English voice-over usually sucks. Back in the day, I could at least understand a little bit. I really need the subtitles now.......

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Random Astro Stuff

I've got a few random cool astro-things on my desktop from various emails/alerts I've recieved. I thought you might find some of this stuff interesting.

PanStarrs got first light on their new giga-pixel camera a few days ago. This is an image of a galaxy, without any corrections applied. The image is taken by a 64x64 array of 0.36 megapixel chips. There's a lot of processing that takes this raw, messy looking image into a nice calibrated astronomical image. In March 2006, I helped out with the construction of the dome for this prototype. Now, the scope is finished and they're testing out the cameras.

Akari made a new all-sky map in the infra-red.

An IR image of Orion from Akari.

A NASA scope caught a nearby star shedding material as it whizzes through space - a UV mosaic of Mira.... Looks a lot like a comet doesn't it.

Spitzer made an expanded mosaic of the Helix....

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lanikai, Manoa

This weekend was really chill - Friday was 'statehood day' so no grappling/boxing. Liz and I went over to Gabriel and Maki's place to do a Korean BBQ. I haven't really had time with Gabe for many months. Very cool. In the usual good-host tradition, my glass was never empty. I had way too much wine.... We got up Saturday and grabbed Jeff and the kayak and met Rahul over on Lanikai. As soon as we got the kayak ready, a windy, driving rain started. All hope was almost lost when I saw a break in the rain and what looked like normal trade-clouds behind it. In 10 minutes the nastyness had passed and beautiful weather started. Weird how variable it is..... Jeff and I paddled Maki out to the Mokulua islands and back. Afterward, we chilled over at Rahul's place till late. Rahul said "I'm not as fat as I used to be"..... running is doing some good! And, I actually had a beer I liked. Maybe someday I'll be able to drink man-drinks. Sunday, Liz and I basically stayed local and ended up hiking Manoa falls for sunset. I forgot how great the beginning of that hike is with it's giant jungle ampitheater. Too bad I forgot camera batteries..... Anyways, it was good to just hang out for a weekend.

Gabriel helping Maki figure out snorkeling.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Periodograms & Power Spectra

I've spent a ton of time now writing up code to do periodograms and power-spectrum analysis on my star-spectra. (wikipedia: spectral-density acoustics). I'm essentially looking for any sort of periodic variation in the star to see if I can detect the star's rotational period, or any sort of cyclic variation in the stellar wind. It's actually been really nice to do this - I've been able to write an entirely different type of code, which, for code-monkeys and data-bitches, can be a big relief when all one usually does is process spectra and make plots. I actually got to do some math and test out a type of analysis that I've never done before. Geeky? Of course.

Here's the "variation" of my spectral line with some fake implanted periodic stuff on the left.

Basically, this is the core of the code that processes the variation above:

FOR per=0,num_periods-1 DO BEGIN
FOR i=0,numset-1 DO BEGIN
cos_sum( per, i)=COS(omega(per)*(jd(i)-tau)^2)^2
sin_sum( per, i)=SIN(omega(per)*(jd(i)-tau)^2)^2
cos_term(per, i, *)=moddata_resid(i,*)*COS(omega(per)*(jd(i)-tau))
sin_term(per, i, *)=moddata_resid(i,*)*SIN(omega(per)*(jd(i)-tau))
cs=REBIN(TOTAL(cos_sum,2), [num_periods,numpixel])
ss=REBIN(TOTAL(sin_sum,2), [num_periods,numpixel])
sig_arr=TRANSPOSE(REBIN(sig, [numpixel,num_periods]))
periodogram = (ct/cs + st/ss)/2/sig_arr

Which produces an "image" of the power (grey scale) at each frequency (horizontal) for each color (vertical). Basically, this is a bunch of noise and junk as far as I can tell. Nothing obvious.... but I did find my fake data just fine down in the lower left. At least the code works.

Here's the start of the paragraph I put in my paper about it.
Anyways, I've spent a few days now trying different methods, writing this code, testing it, running it and writing it up. That about sums up my life the since Sunday.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

CfAO Akamai Ending

I got a neat picture in the mail - the Akamai interns are done with their summer internship and have finished their posters, presentations, and jobs. It was really neat seeing how they came along. Looking forward to next year....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pig-Dog - for Sean

Billy got this dog outside foodland, mostly on a whim, some months ago. He's very small and grunts like a pig whenever he's chasing something or running.... Sean was enamored. Liz and I were up there kayaking this weekend and got to watch pig-dog harass Billy's giant dog, Jackson. Pig-dog will walk in front of Jackson and then jump up to try and hit Jackson's head. Jackson will growl and pig-dog will lay down and roll over in front of him.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Another Paper.....

Back in December, I got to go observing for a couple nights with these guys from the Lyot Project at the American Museum of Natural History's Astro department. I helped them do a little bit of installation and alignment - it was really neat getting to see the instrument up close and personal. Over the last 6 months, I occasionally discussed telescope polarization, gave them some of my Zeemax models, and helped them a little bit with cross-talk issues. It was awesome when they stuck me on the end of their paper - going to Science this week.

Here's the abstract:

The 1 to 3 Myr old star AB Aurigae is ensconced in a disk of dust at least 130 astronomical units (AU) in radius, within a lower density region dominated by gas and of far greater extent (up to 750 AU). Prior to this study, the region inside 120 AU had not been imaged in light scattered from the dust alone. Using adaptive-optics coronagraphy and polarimetry we have imaged the dust in an annulus between 43 and 302 AU from the star. Structure, including an annular depletion zone at a radius of 102 AU, along with a clearing at closer radii inside this annulus, suggests the formation of at least one small body at an orbital distance of 102 ± 10 AU. The dust in the outer annulus seems to mimic models of mean motion resonances relative to the putative object and the star. Further, we describe a low significance (2.8-σ) detection of a point source in this outer annulus of dust. This object may be an overdensity in the disk due to dust accreting onto an unseen companion. An alternate interpretation suggests that the object is more massive than 5 MJ (the mass of Jupiter), but probably not more massive than 37 MJ . The results have implications for theories of companion formation around stars.

A neat picture of the polarization we were seeing.... and the possible "planet" making the "ring".

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Accepted, another one!

So, I just got word from Joe that his dual-beam imaging polarimeter paper (plots) got accepted to PASP. Good stuff. It was neat being part of that review process - lots of instrument-error and code-details stuff to deal with. I have to say I'm pretty impressed with how sensitive it is. And with how easy it was to build.... There will be a lot of updating to my pubs page soon - I've got a few papers up and a few talks there too.... A lot of things are coming together this summer. Feels good.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Busy Day

Today was a really busy but totally fun day. I woke up early to fix Liz's car (crunch). She drove up to the north shore while I went and got fire-supplies and some REU's. We did a couple rounds of snorkeling at three-tables - there was some really neat stuff to see outside the rocks. We then found a gekko at the lunch-spot. Around 4, Kathryn and I got the energy to go hike the Kaunala/Pupukea-loop trail - a 6 mile loop up in the forrest reserve, just down the road. That was really nice - shade and some good views. We then headed to ke iki to spin some fire with the rest of the REU crowd and some random ifa people. Billy & Dawn brought Sierra and Amber down - they were a ton of fun. I was exhausted, but the day was awesome. I'm finally starting to feel like I'm back home......