Adventures of a Reluctant Blogger: Part Deux

O.K.  So I’ve settled into my research and I’ve even settled into Tucson.  While the first few weeks were fraught with academic papers and foreign concepts the next few weeks have been more about the research.   Seeing as I don’t believe I mentioned it in my first post, I think it bears emphasizing here.  Everyone I’ve come into contact with at Steward Observatory (the Astronomy department at U of A), has been absolutely amazing.  Whether it was tracking down the resident computer expert (my main man Paul Hart) for help with some software glitch, or badgering Peter Milne for more info on the Super Lotis telescope,  every single person I’ve met has been incredible.  So if you’re reading this as an astronomy or physics student with  a thought of studying astronomy at the graduate level, I would seriously considering keeping Arizona on the short list.  I had some idea that Arizona was a major player in the astronomy world if for no other reason than its unique geographical surroundings provide some ideal telescope sites, and thus some amazing telescopes.  I had no idea the people would be equally outstanding.

Oh the research?  How’s the research going?  Well, last we checked in I was battling a crippling case of impostor syndrome.  I was fairly confident that I was and would remain hopelessly lost.  Thankfully a few small doses of success can be a much needed remedy for such an ailment, and while I definitely have garnered a healthy respect for the amount of work that goes into research, it no longer feels quite as insurmountable.  I’m grateful that I had some programming experience coming in, but I actually wish I had even more.  After clearing the early hurdles of learning the syntax of a new language, I’ve actually come to appreciate the usefulness of IDL for handling large sets of data, though at times its treatment of for loops seems a dark and sinister plot against efficiency.  I’ve begun to realize that the influx of bigger and better telescopes means the future for some of the smaller telescopes lies in automation, and hopefully something like the data pipeline I’m working on can be of service in that transition.

As for the city of Tucson, despite the sweltering temperatures, I’ve got to say its a cool little town.  I know… I know.  Its a dry heat, but so is my oven and I don’t want to stick my face in it.  There is, however,  a silver lining to the oppressive mid day sun.  The nights are amazing.  You sit out on a patio at about eleven in the evening, and it’s just absolutely perfect.  And what are doing outside in the middle of the day anyways, don’t you have some code to write?  Until next time….

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