Monday, February 28, 2011

LOFAR - the Largest Telescope in the World....?

My favourite post over at the LOFAR-UK blog is the one I wrote earlier this month in response to the press about the first light image including our Chilbolton station.

LOFAR-the Largest Telescope in the World?

In the press for that LOFAR was described as the largest telescope in the world, but there has been a lot of critique of that claim. In the post I explain why LOFAR can claim that title, at least for the time being.

Also I love this picture of the LOFAR super-terp in the Netherlands. This shows several of the core stations of LOFAR.

The LOFAR Superterp (part of the core) in the Netherlands. Credit: ASTRON

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Hubble Tuning Fork at Galaxy Zoo

Over at the Galaxy Zoo Blog this week I posted an article about the Hubble Tuning Fork after I made the below example using images like the one used by Galaxy Zoo.

Curious? Ask an Astronomer: a proto-blog?

Way back in 2001 (10 years ago!) when blogging was not a household term, I was a member of a group of astronomy graduate students at Cornell University who answered questions sent to We decided a revamp of the website was needed, and set it up as a searchable MySQL database accessed by php. I was reminded of an old post of mine today, and realised that we in fact set up a proto-blog. If we were doing this today it could just be a blog with a series of posts answering common astronomical questions.

Anyway you can read some of the answers I wrote as a graduate student/young postdoc which are posted at Curious? Ask an Astronomer.  This link goes to all 154 questions answered by me which I posted on the website!

Turns out I have 3 of the 10 most read questions on the site. They are

What's going to happen on December 21st 2012? (viewed 577263 times)
What is the largest star? (viewed 191353 times)
What is a white hole? (viewed 184946 times)

 More than half a million people have read that top one. Yikes! That's some impact, and no wonder Google searches for my name return lots of hits. I also make the 2012 people really angry.......

Beautiful Stars

I thought for a while about what to name this blog, and finally decided to pick something from my favourite quote by Richard Feynman.
"Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars - mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination - stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one - million - year - old light. A vast pattern - of which I am a part... What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?" 
(which is a Footnote in one of his Volumes of Physics Lectures).

I was originally thinking to call the blog "The Beauty of the Stars", but then it occured to me that that might be misinterpreted as me being a little immodest about my personal appearance. So I decided "Beautiful Stars" was a better choice. Hope you like it.

Welcome to my new blog

This is going to be a collection of blog posts I do in other places as well as other posts not appropriate for those venues.

I blog about galaxies and other stuff for Galaxy Zoo, and run theLOFAR-UK blog. I also have an annoymous blog about issues with being a mother in science - but still undecided if I should link to that from here.

You can also visit my website.