Saturday, December 01, 2007

Astronomers Stuck in a Cloud

I've been at the MDM observatory near Tucson since yesterday around sundown, and last night I started a blog post which looked something like this:

Well, I'm back on the mountain, and it is raining. A lot.
And then the power went out, and since the generator was down as well, we had no power, no heat, no internet, and—after a few hours—no phone either. We were in the middle of a cloud, a white windy rainy mass, wherein we had no connection to the outside world. It's an odd thing, being in a dark building with only a couple of flashlights in the middle of storm after everyone else has gone to sleep, and I (having been staying up late in this time zone for several days already) was the only one awake. So I sat around for a while thinking about galaxies and stars and clusters how everything is interrelated and how I'll never come up with a thesis topic.

Today has been more lighthearted—and more of an extended hurricane party, but with more astronomy and rampant silliness. The first year grad students are here this weekend, nominally to learn how to observe. (Does learning how to do a lightning shutdown count?) They have finals next week and so there has been a lot of questions buzzing around along the lines of "Why are metal poor stars bluer and fainter than metal rich stars?" and "What's the difference between the Tully-Fisher relation and the Fundamental Plane?" Between this and the conference last week (more on that later), I feel as though I've been walking in an astronomy-saturated fog for a week.

The power came back around 2:30pm and the internet and phone followed around 4. With the return of the outside world, there has been a lot of online Scrabble (yes, I've been converted) and now the watching of the Oklahoma-Missouri game on the small TV in the kitchen ... something about if Oklahoma wins then it is good for Ohio State and if Ohio State wins the national championship then alumni will want to give more money which will eventually be good for the astronomy department.

3 comments:

MK said...

Is it possible that galaxies eject baby galaxies, that grow into full fledged galaxies?

This could explain how clusters and superclusters are formed...

mollishka said...

There's no evidence, observational or theoretical, for anything like that ...

NiteSkyGirl Blog said...

astronomically profound article!!!!!!!