I have to confess, it’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down with a pen and paper during a lecture and taken down notes. I don’t normally need to – I hopefully absorb the important things, and the details aren’t quite as important to remember as they can normally be found in papers. This time, however, I wanted to put summaries on here, so thus far I’ve taken around 8 pages worth… Now I just have to work out what to say here.
The most interesting talk I’ve been to so far from the point of view of learning the most was the plenary talk on STEREO yesterday morning. The sun is definitely not my field (way too local), although I’ve looked at it a few times through a solar telescope, so I was mostly relying on my knowledge from undergraduate and a few extra talks. STEREO, as the name might suggest, is actually two satellites, both going away from the earth but in opposite directions, giving us a 3D view of the sun. It also gives us a view of the Earth-Sun line – which you normally look down, rather than across. That means that we can see coronal mass ejections coming towards us, and gain up to 2 days of advanced notice – very important, considering the impact that these have on satellites and the Earth in general. The first Earth-impacting one of these was actually seen – from both sides – in the middle of December 2008! This wasn’t seen at all by Earth-based instruments. STEREO has also seen other cool things, including the stripping of a comet’s tail by a coronal mass ejection. More info on STEREO is on Wikipedia.
So… it’s probably about time I started using this blog properly.
I’m currently at JENAM, which is a combination of the Royal Astronomical Society’s Annual General Meeting and the Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting. It’s based at The University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield. Its starting event was a buffet (free food and drinks; always good), followed by a Music and Astronomy event. Although I was a bit dubious going in, this turned out to be quite a good event – classical music combined with an overview of the history of the relationship between music and astronomy (the two are linked by a surprising number of things). Hopefully the image on the right gives a flavour of the event: strings on the left (with a piano on the far left; sadly I couldn’t get this in as well), with two speakers on the right and Jon Culshaw in the middle interjecting quotes in the style of various famous people (Sir Patrick Moore, George Brown, George Bush, …).
On the left are the people leading the evening: the right-most two are Alice Williamson and Dr. Robert Priddey, who were narrating the event, and that’s Jon again second from the left. I think the telescope is a likeness of the one Gallileo used (not the real one; that’s apparently in philladelphia).
Tomorrow the real work begins – 8 or 9 parallel presentation sessions from 9am to 6pm, packed full with lots of science. Should be fun. I’ll be trying to twitter throughout, although the lack of mains sockets in at least the main hall will probably hamper me (my battery life isn’t what it used to be…). It’s obviously impossible to go to all the talks, so I’ll be focusing on cosmology and galaxy clusters, perhaps with some radio astronomy mixed in.
BTW, Dr. Mario M. Bisi has also covered this event, and will presumably be blogging about the rest of the conference too from a solar physics perspective. Is there anyone else blogging this too?