Happy Vernal Equinox: Celebrating More Than Just Spring (or … A Love Story, Part 1)

(Let’s pretend that I got this one posted “on time” 2 weeks ago, ‘kay?) The vernal equinox, otherwise known as the first day of Spring (here north of the equator!), has meaning to me that goes beyond its astronomical significance.  March 21 is the day that the StarMan and I have long regarded as our anniversary date.  Going all mushy or TMI is not my style, but I really don’t give StarMan the credit he deserves. He is the embodiment of unconditional love, and I am the luckiest person alive to be the person with whom he decided to share his life.

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The Perpetual Two-Body Problem

An example of a 2-body problem: Two objects with the same weight (mass), orbiting around a point in space (credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-body_problem)

An example of a 2-body problem: Two objects with the same weight (mass), orbiting around a point in space (credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-body_problem)

Amongst the colleagues in my profession, the phrase “Two-Body Problem” is a geeky way to describe the challenging situation that a married (or committed) professional couple finds themselves in, when  they are looking for jobs in similar research fields in the same geographic location, in hopes of sustaining their careers and keeping their relationship intact.  StarMan and I are, by all accounts, a strongly-coupled  Two Body Problem, and we just got news today that dashed some high hopes. Continue reading

Killer Rocks

One of the aspects of my career as a professional astronomer that has always bothered me is that, well, I’ve chosen a kind of ….  selfish profession.  Oh sure, astronomers try to rationalize their line of work by making claims that technological advancements that further the study of the stars also end up in our homes and enhance our lives, or that such research provides much-needed perspective to the world at-large and underscores the fact  that we are but a fragile island of humanity living on this small rock, promoting the cause of peace and good-will and satisfying humankind’s innate thirst for knowledge and exploration.  All the above sounds good, and indeed I’ve likely been guilty of making similar arguments, but honestly?  Astronomy, along with a few other pure research science fields, really is about the joy of discovery and desire to know more about the Universe. If one has a strong need to “save the world” or promote world peace,  then astronomy is probably not the profession for you.  Or so I thought, until a few weeks ago.  Continue reading