Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tour of Goldstone Tracking Station; Physics colloquia, free internet courses at coursera and edx, and OCA Astrophysics SIG

This week has been again mostly a study week with just one photo from the Goldstone Tracking Station tour, but first some astrophysics study topics.

The CSULB physics colloquium on matter wave interferometry was very interesting and the professor explained it in terms I could somewhat understand.  It relies on the basic quantum mechanics principle of the duality of particles and waves and that the interference pattern normally associated with waves can also be seen with
particles.  Some applications of this technology include super sensitive accelerometers and sensors perhaps capable of searching for dark matter and dark energy, and even possible detection of gravitational waves.  Just to think that the gravitational force on a single atom or particle can be tracked and measured is really fascinating.

If you're looking for some great free online courses that you can do in your spare time, check out www.edx.org or www.coursera.org
I'm currently taking "Astrophysics:  Exploring Exoplanets", "Climate Change:  The Science", and "Analyzing the Universe".  The courses can be entered almost any time and viewed day or night.  The only deadlines are for quizzes if you are taking the classes for credit.  There is some mathematics involved, such as calculating orbits of extrasolar planets and you can get some free software (DS9), which you can use to analyze and false color images from the Chandra X-Ray telescope. Have fun!

Also if you're in the local area and want something to do, you can attend the OCA Astrophysics SIG this Friday, 7:30 PM at the Heritage Museum.  One video on "Runaway Star: Zeta Ophiuchi" and another video on "The importance of the Higgs boson" will be shown.  It's a cheap date for the right date.

Finally, Palmia Observatory resident astronomer Peggy and I drove to Fort Irwin out on the Mojave for a tour of the NASA tracking station.  There, after going through all the security checkpoints, met up with tour guide, Leslie.  Once she heard that we were from Palmia Observatory, she said we would have our very own special tour with just the two of us.  (She did say something about a big rig fire on northbound 5 freeway that closed down all lanes and other tour members were not going to make it, but getting a special tour sounded better.). We got to visit three antenna farms and tour the inside of one operations center. The size of the antennas is very impressive.  Check out the photo of the Palmia Observatory staff in front of the Mars antenna.

Palmia Resident Astronomers tour Goldstone Tracking Station
Resident Astronomers George and Peggy tour Goldstone Tracking Station

Until next time.

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