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A swiss road safety campaign on speed
I was too afraid to listen... The beard... the wings... the white suits...
And via the same report I was forwarded the above link through, the winner of the unfortunate acronym of the year award:

The recent Swiss road safety report “SINUS” indicates that, in 2008, 147 people died and another 1,109 were seriously injured because of speeding.

(via Speed Monitor ETSC’s Newsletter on Speed Policy Developments in the EU November 09 NUMBER 06)

And on a completely different topic (yay variable star observers):
An interview with the very delightful Albert Jones. He does amazing astronomy in his back yard, is still finding comets and other cool stuff and is in his late 80s. And is a really nice guy.

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For those interested in Astronomy on the Radio:

Our Changing World, Tonight 9.00 pm, Radio New Zealand National

Alison Ballance and Veronika Meduna presenting

In the first episode in a series celebrating the International Year of Astronomy, Mt John Observatory’s Alan Gilmore, Grant Christie and other astronomers review the history of optical astronomy in New Zealand .

NIWA oceanographers Philip Boyd and Cliff Law talk about iron fertilisation experiments in the world’s oceans.
Ornithologists Colin Miskelly and Graham Taylor discuss the latest New Zealand threatened bird classification.
Scott Wing, the curator of palaeobiology at the Smithsonian explains how flora and fauna changed during the Palaeogene 50 million years ago when the world was experiencing a much warmer climate.
Shorter science, health and environment features also air during Afternoons with Jim Mora at 3.45 p.m. , Monday to Thursday. The programme is repeated at 1.10 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

(and for those who didn't listen in time, they post to the net :)
You can download a podcast or listen to streaming audio of programmes you’ve missed in the complete programme archive at:

Next week is apparently white dwarves (I'll lay bets Denis Sullivan) and stellar evolution (could be Karen or Peter or Denis).

(NB description culled from email notification I got.)
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Why I didn't go for a job with Carter Observatory (having possibly seen a certain report earlier). Hopefully the Wellington City Council will be able to continue it as an educational facility, but it has been less than successful wrt research and research funding for a while now.
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The random DVD assortment of movies for the week was:

Hellboy - usual special effects etc.

The Brothers Grimm - the usual special effects combined with Terry Gilliam insanity. "Twelve Monkeys" worked better. Though the cinematography was good.

River Queen. The best of the lot. NZ film set in the Maori Wars done by Vincent Ward. Gorgeously filmed. Very good sets and costume* - play spot the Goldie painting outfit you recognised, great scenery. Bit let down by the script, so you ended up not really caring about the main people.

*Appart from the female lead who was dressed from here, there and everywhere. The one shot where she looked right, was standing in a hut in full white (Simplicity 69??) chemise, corset and pants of the right era (US Civil war being the same decade as the Maori Wars at least). Bingo, then she goes and pulls on something that appears to be 1880s(?) natural form in one piece. Slim and white drapy and WRONG looking. The only possible excuse seems to be a directorial decision for that look, because the proper crinoline and petticoats would have obscured her face in the "intimate interlude" up against the tree several shots later. Why there weren't bright green moss stains down her back as opposed to just the dramatically dischevaled hair...

But overall worth seeing, if only for the fact that they were very good at getting the other historical details right. Not often that Z is complementing them on the munitions and battle tactics shown.

Other amusements/procrastinatory devices:
For those who remember the digitanks, the next step up - Jousting knights.
Want to classify galaxies in your spare time? - Sloan Digital Sky Survey Needs YOU!. Galaxy Zoo definitely looks to be an interesting project. How good are your fuzzy blob identification skills?
Edit: 10 min later and I am in and identifying. The tutorial is straight forward and the test to see if you can identify to a reasonable standard was easy to follow, though I was miffed that you just got a pass/fail, as opposed to how many you got. Will be fun to see what sort of results they get once the statistics section is up and running. Will be interesting to see whether or not people agree on particular classifications.

And it is nice to look at stars again, even if it is just is the large quantity blobs. And some of the spiral galaxies are very cool.

But give Mum and Dad turn up tomorrow, I should possibly get back to tidying...
stellar_muddle: (n419)
I am occasionally quite terrible at following up on emails and replying to people - some of you may have noticed.

Finally got around to chasing up some astronomy stuff - replying about some visual estimates and getting back to NZ PhD supervisors about the papers that we all keep forgetting to work on (last contact early Feb, was supposed to be in contact at roughly monthly intervals - oops). Wont be in time for a conference I wont make it to in Vancouver in July, but that is ok*.

Digging out RV Tauri material - should update the visual estimates and consolidate more of that data - easy spreadsheet work, but having all the data together really helps.

The AGB paper is now formally out in MNRAS v 378, pg 1089. I'll forgive you if you don't read it, especially as I know how much a subscription to MNRAS costs - Canterbury Uni physical science library was supposed to try and cut ~$30 000 from their budget a couple years back and could do so by eliminating MNRAS, AJ and ApJ subscriptions. However being the 3 largest astronomy journals and probably being the only library in NZ to subscribe to them, luckily...

And non-astronomically:
1 finished (bar chin ties) pixie Viking coif (wool lined with silk - no I am evil and can't document the combination, but I like warm ears).
Banana bread works well, even without walnuts or the sunflowers seeds gotten by the weevils that were going to be substituted.
Have library books to return, but it feels wrong to return them without finishing and I am less than half way through Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and it is good reading.

* Pulsating star conferences are held every 2 years - missed the last one in Rome, but did make it to the two previous ones in Christchurch (_just_ after thesis submission) and Leuven (2001).
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Or, a post not about tents, Festival or anything medieval.

Your manuscript entitled "Abundances in intermediate-mass AGB stars undergoing third dredge-up and hot-bottom burning", *snip*, has now been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Main Journal.
Referee's report:
As pointed out by the authors, the results here "come from exploratory observations and calculations", and this is a pioneering effort in determining abundances in very intractable stars.

Submitted 23 March, accepted 12 April, which is a far faster turn around than the last paper (which took about a year of reubmission and changes). Mind you, the other authors are slightly bigger names this time round...

Publication. Yaaaaaayyyyy!!!!!

So, that is what I spent the past 3 years working on...
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A very good documentary on ABC: A sidewalk astronomer, about John Dobson: inventor of the Dobsonian Telescope, cofounder of Sidewalk Astronomy and all around character. I don't agree with his cosmological theories but his delight and patience in going out and showing people the sun, the moon and the universe, and explaining is just glorious. I want to have that degree of enthusiasm and bounce and life when I am 90...

That was worth staying up for.

"Once you come to the conclusion that what you know already is all you need to know, then you have a degree in disinterest."

"The universe is a lot bigger than the earth and it's a lot bigger than the solar system and it's a lot bigger than our galaxy and we owe it to ourselves to notice it."

You come away thinking it would be worth starting a local sidewalk astronomy and geology... not show precisely , but conversation... And remember why...

Wander outside and take a look up.
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Heavens Above for checking out visable comets, satelites etc.
[ profile] vonstassburg, if it is Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 you were wondering about (don't know if that is the one breaking up), unfortunately it appears to be northern hemisphere and fairly faint (currently 8th magnitude with 6th magnitude being the nominal naked eyeball cut off).
edit: More info and pretty pictures at the Bad Astronomy Blog.

Additional current comet info:
Gary W. Kronk's Current Comets
Weekly Information about Bright Comets

WRT Southern Hemisphere stuff, check Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand. Some of their stuff is a little out of date though. Though the RASNZ conference for 2006 (in New Plymouth) has David Levy as guest speaker (remember Shoemaker-Levy 9?). Also the new director of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). 30th June - 2 July. I wont be making it over but others may be interested.
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Planet discovery opens up worlds
NZ Herald 14.03.06 )
Ouch... Nice science, though I really want to see the original paper*. But as far as I am aware, while good people, said 3 NZ scientists did not pioneer the subject of planet discover using gravitational microlensing techniques. You really do want to occasionally slap journalists...
Edit: Similar style article in the Canberra Times, also focussing on the NZ authors... which are kind of in the middle of the author assortment ( A. Gould, A. Udalski, D. An, D.P. Bennett, A.-Y. Zhou, S. Dong, N.J. Rattenbury, B.S. Gaudi, P.C.M. Yock, I.A. Bond, G.W. Christie, K. Horne, J. Anderson, K.Z. Stanek, D.L. DePoy, C. Han, J. McCormick, B.-G. Park, R.W. Pogge, S.D. Poindexter, I. Soszynski, M.K. Szymanski, M. Kubiak, G. Pietrzynski, O. Szewczyk, L. Wyrzykowski, K. Ulaczyk, B. Paczynski, D.M. Bramich, C. Snodgrass, I.A. Steele, M.J. Burgdorf, M.F. Bode, C.S. Botzler, S. Mao, S.C. Swaving (The MicroFUN, OGLE, and PLANET/RoboNet collaborations))
Some of these authors may well have pioneered stuff given that is what the OGLE and PLANET collaborations specialize in. The 3 mentioned may be responsible for some refinements using extreme high magnification events, but not to the extent implied in the newspaper articles.
ie not as bad as I originally thought, but still...

* Will add the journal reference if I can.

Edit: Article on astro-ph0603276. Should be free access. Does mean this isn't actually peer reviewed yet...
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For later reference:
Heavens-Above Main page (lat/long for Canberra) - try for the generic site, where you can search for your specific location.
Yay to comets and satellites, though unfortunately the new bright one Astronomy Picture of the Day: Comet Pojmanski is only currently at mag 6.4, is an early morning object, and may no longer be observable from southern latitudes. And it was apparently briefly naked eye.

NB Googling _Heavens above sky watch_ found it fast. wasn't, and was apparently "Britain's favourite on-line Sex Shop". Couldn't be arsed checking any further.

Still headachey, though better after shoulder massage. This probably means I will be good and head off to bed, rather than hunching over tablet weaving or a computer. Besides, have a good book.


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January 2016

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