Week 4: we need to go deeper

willb/ February 25, 2020/ astronomy 341/ 1 comments

This week a python script filled with shiny new functions descended from the heavens into my lap. Like a divine tablet I lugged “shift_methods.py” down from Mt. Moodle and into the desert of my working repository. I started the work of tearing my shoddily built shift functions from my module, sparks and wires flying, until the dust had settled. My

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Week 3: Trouble in Taurus

willb/ February 18, 2020/ astronomy 341/ 0 comments

This past week it was valentines day, and I wanted to make something pretty, so I made a preliminary three color image of our HL Tau field, which includes L1551 (a really pretty molecular cloud) and a handful of Herbig Haro (HH) objects, which are dramatic outflows, jets, and other signs of star forming activity. More on that later in

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Week 2: Overscan, don’t overthink

willb/ February 11, 2020/ astronomy 341/ 2 comments

This week we were tasked with correcting our images for bias. I wrote first about what bias is and why it’s important. Here I’ll discuss my pseudocode and present my bias correction function. Biasing is an electronics term that describes the application of a voltage/current to a circuit or piece of circuit to create more optimal operating conditions. As a

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Week 1: Across the sky, half a degree at a time

willb/ February 3, 2020/ astronomy 341/ 2 comments

Once I blazed across the sky, Leaving trails of flame; I fell to earth, and here I lie – Who’ll help me up again? A Shooting Star, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Orion was always the easiest constellation for me to pick out; up in the winter, where the clouds in the Pacific Northwest might clear for a few days at

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making stars (feat. ic 5146: the cocoon nebula) – prepare to astronomize

willb/ January 24, 2020/ research log/ 1 comments

when molecular clouds – large clumps of gas and dust within galaxies – become unable to support their own weight they collapse inwards into a cascading series of overdensities and clumps which then become stars. even if they can support themselves, collisions between clouds, supernovae, or other dramatic events can cause dynamical disruptions in molecular clouds which trigger star formation.

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make your own color magnitude diagram ! – prepare to astronomize

willb/ January 13, 2020/ research log/ 0 comments

Luritja aboriginal astronomers have a classification system for by-eye observation of stars: Tjilkera (white) stars, Tataka Tjilkera (red/white), Tataka (red) and Tataka Indora (very red) [1, 2]. Astronomers today, thanks to Williamina Flemming and Annie Jump Cannon (among other Harvard Computers), use a rather opaque system of stellar classification called the Harvard spectral classification: OBAFGKM(LTY), ranging from white/blue to red/brown.

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lefty astronomy: can “science” be decolonized? and what really is “science”?

willb/ January 12, 2020/ lefty astronomy, research log/ 3 comments

Context, and then some of my thoughts on astronomy Mauna Kea, the tallest of five volcanoes comprising the big island of Hawai’i, is the most sacred of mountains to native Hawaiians. Protected by kapu, a code of conduct, visitation was restricted in order to protect the sanctity of the mountain. Around the 12th century native people began small quarries high

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inclusive astronomy 2: postmortem

willb/ October 18, 2019/ personal, research log/ 3 comments

The inclusive astronomy conference was originally held in 2015, at a time when tensions were boiling over in the field. it was attended by a variety of astronomy-lovers who sought change in a field that (to this day) hides the ugliness of colonialism, racism, misogyny, and LGBTQ-phobia behind a veneer of impartial, apolitical scientific inquiry. My personal hero, Frank Tavares,

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a stressful series of requests to shadowy money brokers

willb/ October 11, 2019/ personal/ 0 comments

these past two weeks my midterm studying and test taking and essay writing have been interspersed with fairly frantic applications, communications, and aggravation in an attempt to register, plan travel, and secure funding for numerous astronomy related travels (which is why September’s book corner will likely become Septober’s Spooky book corner). This Sunday I’ll depart Amherst for Baltimore and the

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