Papers that might actually be published

Quick update: I’m still alive, still doing astronomy, and still not working hard enough.

I’m working harder though, and feeling slightly better about everything because of that. A week or so ago it dawned on me just how much I wasn’t working hard enough, and tried to channel that fear into a metaphorical kick up the backside. It’s working, kind of…

In the last two weeks I’ve started drafting two academic papers – one about my cataclysmic variable follow-up and eclipse hunting project, and the other will be an instrumental paper describing our robotic telescope in La Palma, pt5m. The former is turning out to be a mammoth task, as others in our research cohort are pushing for this to include all known eclipsing systems that we have data on, including ULTRACAM and ULTRASPEC studies. This means a target list of 50-100 objects, all of which will need to be briefly described, along with a light curve plot, and observing details. I spent about a week perfecting some code to produce the light curve plots in the most appropriate way, so this shouldn’t take too long now. The main bulk will be checking that the light curve data I have is the best available (and therefore re-reducing many, many, many hours of telescope data), and incorporating all the observing information into a table. This is going to be a fairly long term project.

Conversely, the pt5m paper is a newer development, but one that should hopefully take only a couple of weeks to produce. The original idea was for a collaborator at Durham to write the paper, with others contributing different sections – e.g. me writing about my transient follow up scripts. Unfortunately, he’s too busy with other things now, and no-one else wants to write it, so Vik brought it to my desk this week, and left me with the task of drafting it. I’ve already started a couple of paragraphs, but it will take a good few days of hard work to make real progress. Having another first author paper to connect my thesis with will be very helpful though, so there’s no question about it being the right thing to do. Let’s hope that these two papers are eventually published, unlike my previous two attempts at writing a paper.

The entire Hicks Building (home to Physics and Maths departments) is being refurbished at the moment, and our office’s turn is fast approaching. We’re going to be moved to temporary office spaces for about 2 weeks, during which time we might not be able to use our work computers. Argh! Maybe it’s time for a holiday? Actually it shouldn’t be too bad, because I can use my laptop to keep on top of pt5m data, and other work. However, I’ll need to make sure the software running on my work computer that helps pt5m listen for transients, and observe my objects, is transferred smoothly to somewhere else, that will keep running during this period of upheaval. The upside is that this has forced me to make sure my transient follow up scripts are now fully operational on the machine in La Palma which controls the telescope. Sometimes you need a real deadline in order to actually get on and do something.

The downside to working harder on PhD stuff is that I’m not managing to do as much campaigning stuff. That said, I did manage to talk about it on local radio the other day, as well as beginning to engage in local Green Party events. I also managed to squeeze in a quick play with the snowboard in the park on Friday!

Kat taking a quick breather after climbing up the hill. Obviously Bingham Park isn't quite as good as Chamonix or Tignes.

Kat taking a quick breather after climbing up the hill. Obviously Bingham Park isn’t quite as good as Chamonix or Tignes. No ski lifts here!

One last thing: This album is keeping me going right now. Thanks to Chris for the tip off.