Getting Started

This week I’ve been doing some real work. Well, apart from the 4 hours I spent looking at laptops, but that was important too!

Monday started with a 4 hour session with my supervisor. I was overwhelmed with an enormous amount of information, and spent the afternoon in a daze, confused about where to start. The rest of the week slipped by quickly, as I got to grips with the toy I’ll be using for the next few years: the pt5m. This 0.5m robotic telescope lives on the roof of the WHT building in La Palma. I used it many times last year for my masters research, but at that time it had to be operated manually. Now it’s completely automated; one can submit jobs to the queue and pick up the resulting data in the morning (weather permitting). The new queue building system was totally new to me, but didn’t take too long to understand. By Thursday I already had 3 new sets of data to play with, so I also spent some time remembering how to reduce raw data – perhaps I’ll write a post another day on what this involves.

Friday saw my first official meeting/seminar related to my PhD. I attended the specialist discussion meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society titled “High Time Resolution Optical Astrophysics”. This is more or less the vague title of my PhD, and was organised by my supervisor, so it really wouldn’t do to miss it. Most of the talks were actually really interesting, educational and inspiring, and a visit to the RAS library was an event in itself. A real Sherlock-esque place, with two floors of bookshelves, complete with spiral staircase. In some ways it’s a shame that people don’t really need libraries like that any more, but I’m quite glad I don’t have to rifle through millions of books to find a meaningful reference. Thanks Internet!
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So, thus far I’m still interested in astronomy, I’m still awake when I’m in the office (mostly), and most importantly, I’m still alive. Hopefully next week will involve real lab work with another flashy piece of equipment, and next month may even involve a trip to Thailand. Exciting huh?

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