May 10, 2009 03:40 by scibuff

Astronomy is definitely one of my biggest hobbies. Unfortunately, I decided to pursue a different career path, mainly because, as a non-US citizen, my chances of getting into a summer REU program were at the level of Niburu ending all life on Earth in 2012 (i.e. none). Although I am out of touch with professional astronomy I still follow news, events, read blogs and both NASA and ESA pages. I will post my comments and share my thoughts on great variety of topics related to astronomy, cosmology and astrophysics in the astronomy section of this blog.

My Brief Background In Astronomy:

I remember arguing with my parents one summer night (i guess i was about 6) to let me stay up late to wait for the Perseids “maximum”. In a single night with clear sky and a little bit of patience, one can see perhaps a few sporadic meteors in an hour. The number of observable meteors tends to be much higher in morning hours. This effect can be visualized by a car traveling in rain. The windshield will be hit by much more water than the rear windows. In a similar manner, the morning side¬† sweeps up space debris the Earth encounters on its way around the Sun as opposed to the evening side, where we observe only meteors caused by particles that caught up wit the Earth from behind.

In early spring of 1996, I was readily awaiting C/1995 O1 Hale Bopp equipped with a good sized telescope. The comet, easily observable with naked eyes for record-breaking 18 months prepared an incredible show for those who saw it. Anyone who missed it will most likely not get another chance for a similar spectacle in his/her lifetime.

C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp

C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp in the constellation of Pegasus

The next phenomenal show of nature I saw the total solar eclipse of 1999. The totality path ran from England all the way to Turkey passing only a few kilometers south of my hometown of Bratislava, Slovakia. My friends and I couldn’t let an opportunity like that to simply pass. We traveled to the near by Lake Balaton which lied inside the almost 200-hundred kilometer wide strip where the Moon would totally cover our star.¬† [pictures to follow]

My first encounter with professional astronomy was in the summer of 2001 at the observatory in Modra, Slovakia where I was gathering data to produce the light curve of asteroid 5587 (1990 SB) to determine the synodic period of its rotation.

During my first year at Colby College I help with data gathering for research on Delta-Scuti Variability in CQ Tau at Colby’s Collins Observatory equipped with 14-inch telescope and a high quality CCD camera with photometric color filters and a grating spectrometer.

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