April 22, 2006



Today we went to a independently owned nature reserve a few miles outside of town.

April 21, 2006

Tonight we (myself and some students) grabbed a 10 minute exposure of M82:

I can't wait to get the big mirror recoated and try taking photos on main scope.

I ran 1.7 miles today in 20 minutes at Shirk today. Someday I'm going to get to the 10-minute mile mark... Lifted weights for a bit, but had no food in me, so the lifting was really short.

I started looking at the syllabus for the May term course. My current plan is to do 8 chapters (of The Science of Sound) in the first 9 days, then take the last 4 (maybe 5) chapters over the last 7 days. Obviously, the acoustics of musical instruments is my favorite part. I've also tentatively set the lab schedule. I'll need to get cracking and try out all the labs in the next two weeks.

April 18, 2006

Today some of the profs in the department tackled our storeroom's clutter problem. One large cartload of electronics junk took about 15 minutes to load. Most of it was stuff had been donated by G.E. before they closed their local facility. We discovered some treasures, but mostly I'm just interested in recovering the space.

Tonight at the observatory we were shooting through clouds the whole time. First, I think I messed up the sidereal time clock, because when I pointed the scope at Saturn, we were off in RA by an hour. I'll check that out when I go to fix the light on the RA scale. Before the clouds completely shut us down, I tried to hunt down M81. We took a photo and saw:

which is actually M82. But, M81 is close by, so we got a photo of it as well:

We didn't have time to take an exposure longer than 45 seconds before the clouds rolled in. Also, I'm not sure how to properly take flat field images. Hopefully when I get that figured out, the image quality will improve.

April 10, 2006

I accomplished next to nothing today. Okay, so I made it to the gym and managed to run 1.5 miles, but was too pooped to lift more than a single set after that. Also, I started grading exams that my class took last Friday while I was at ISU giving a talk, but didn't make much headway on that, either. Mostly, I was dealing with the surveys I had my class look at last week and do over this weekend.

This semester's class is interesting, because although it is dominated by seniors, there are a lot of juniors and at least one sophomore in the class as well. Senioritis is rampant and seems to be rubbing off onto the juniors. Maybe Spring semesters should be cancelled. :)

What's really got me worried is how little development I've done of the course this term. At least, compared to what I had planned to do, it seems very weak. I hope it is because I am comfortable (to a degree) with the content, and not just that I am being lazy.

One thing I did accomplish was getting a dental appointment for tomorrow to look at a loose filling. Guess I'll have to go dig out a dental card from somewhere now...

April 04, 2006

Several students came to the observatory tonight to make required observations. We looked at the Moon, M42 and Saturn. That was after a failed attempt at hunting for M81 (or M82). We were able to get a decent shot of M42.

20 sec. exposure, level adjusted

We also took a picture of Saturn. It actually turned out all right, but ended up being much smaller than I expected it would be. Next time, I may have to try without a star diagonal.

These last few weeks have been quite busy. R and I were in CF over Spring Break. I gave a talk to the Physics Department there. It was great to be back on campus; it brought back many memories. The department had just moved out of the Physics Building as part of a long anticipated renovation. The faculty is currently spread all over campus, but I did get to see some research labs. Prof. B. gave me a tour of his lab and some good advice for new faculty. He said I should keep a journal of my experiences as a new professor.

R and I have been watching a lot of DVDs, since she has the Blockbuster Online subscription. In the past few weeks, I've seen "Gosford Park", "Goodfellas", "Fever Pitch" and the first 8 episodes (2 discs) of "Lost". I was surprised at how good "Fever Pitch" was as a baseball movie. I expected Jimmy Fallon to be more like the Red Sox fan that he played on SNL than what he actually did. The best line was when he tells the boyfriends/husbands of Lindsay's friends that he has season tickets to the Sox and one of the guys says: "If Lindsay breaks up with you, I'll never forgive her." Classic. "Goodfellas" was a great movie. "Gosford Park" started slow and I was half expecting it to turn into a variation of Agatha Christie's "Mousetrap," which it did not. I fell asleep during the second half of the movie for about 15 minutes, but woke up and had not missed anything. The film could stand some editting, but all together it was a good rent. "Lost" is pretty good, although it hasn't completely hooked me.

My ratings:

Gosford Park - worth renting
Goodfellas - wish I had seen in the theatre
Fever Pitch - worth renting (especially for baseball fans)
Lost - worth renting (so far)