×

gildings in this subreddit have paid for 7.39 months of server time

Multi-planet System Found Through Crowdsourcing by starman2015 in space

[–]Lost-Cartographer 159 points160 points  (0 children)

I was a part of the crowd looking through the Kepler data for exoplanets, found some, and since this hasn't been made clear: you can join the search, right now, and discover things. It's fun and fascinating, and you accidentally learn stuff along the way.

Go to Zooniverse.org, and find a project that interests you. The project the article was about is "Exoplanet Explorers", but there are many more projects available (even searching for exoplanets there is more than one project); there is all kinds of crowdsourced science there, from projects to find the theorized ninth planet of our solar system to Mars studies to ecological studies here on earth).

They're all fairly simple to get started, and usually involve you being shown examples of the kind of thing to look for, then clicking through images to find some, using the powerful pattern recognition and noise filtration of the human brain. That sounds boring, but a lot of them are fascinating and addictive - the Kepler data for example doesn't just indicate exoplanets, as you see more and more examples of the data on stars, you start to recognise different kinds of things going on in each star system, and normal vs unusual vs WTF, and there is a comments page for each data set - normally no comments on something unremarkable, but discussion on the unusual stuff, etc. In some other projects, you're actually training AI on how to find the thing, etc.

The last time I checked on smartphone (about a year ago) the interface wasn't working very well on phone, it was better on computer, but hopefully that is fixed now? [Edit: Reaver_01 points out below that there is now the Zooniverse phone app!]

I've personally discovered a few things, such as a previously uncharted brown dwarf passing near our solar system (there are lots). Theoretically you could get your name in a paper but that depends a lot on how a project is structured so I don't expect that, if you do it for the glory you'll be disappointed :-p Do it for the science and the fun :-) Anyway, check it out.

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]Dannei 99 points100 points  (0 children)

1 - Where do you work? Do you work in a single place or in multiple places?

I usually work in an office at my home university. I travel abroad a few times a year for conferences (usually a week or so) and for observing with telescopes around the world (sometimes up to a month away from home).

2 - How is a "normal day" to you? Which are the 4/5 most frequent tasks that you do in a daily basis?

My normal day is fairly close to "normal" 9am-5pm hours, although they are flexible. Our department has group coffee breaks at 11am and 3pm, and a communal lunch break around 1pm. Frequent tasks include: * Checking for recently published papers, mainly through arXiv.org * Computer programming for data analysis * Planning and checking on observations, perhaps communicating with observers. * Writing up my results in papers (or currently writing my Ph.D. thesis!) * Writing proposals for telescope time, funding, or jobs.

3 - What is the degree of responsability that you have in your work methods determination? If they are already determined, how are they already determinated and by who?

I am almost entirely independent. My project was initially started by my supervisor (i.e. he prepared the initial data I analysed), but I have had fairly free control over the direction of the project since then - perhaps because we agree on most things!

4 - How many hours do you work per day on average?

If you include coffee breaks, etc., office hours are about 8, but I will also do work at home on occasion, and will routinely respond to emails at any time of day.

5 - Do you, as an astrofisicist, feel inclined to use any machines or tolos? If so which one?

I don't routinely do so, no. I have assisted with some telescope maintenance tasks, but this is usually performed by technicians.

6 - Does being an astrofisicist implies travelling?

Yes, it is expected that you will travel abroad for conferences. It is also common to move abroad to find jobs.

7 - What activities do you do in your free-time? How frequently can you do those activities?

I'm an avid computer gamer, and I get time to play most evenings. I also work on a preserved steam railway, which I do on my weekends. Other things I do from time to time are some gardening (i.e. being told by my fiancée what plants are weeds and need to be dug up) and occasionally working on my model railway.

8 - In which measure does your profession implies work with others?

My actual data analysis has been quite self-sufficient, with assistance from others when their expertise is needed. I know many others work more closely, with many large collaborations.

9 - Why did you choose this profession?

I started on a Physics degree, and moved over to Astrophysics as they were the modules I enjoyed most. I went on to a Ph.D. as I greatly enjoy the idea of being independent in my work, rather than being told what to do by a manager every day.

10 - What type of formation did you take to reach this profession? (habilitations, learnings, degrees, etc.)

4-year Undergraduate Masters degree (MPhys). My studies before university included Physics, Maths (both required for my courses), Chemistry, History, and Theatre Studies.

11 - Did you had some other profession or hobby that helped you to enter your current profession? If so, in what way did that helped you?

I did a summer research placement during my undergraduate degree, and I was invited to return for a PhD some years later. Otherwise, I think my hobbies have given me some helpful skills (e.g. public speaking), but didn't directly influence me being accepted.

12 - Is there any "update courses/degrees" (I really don't know the correct Word) in your profession that has contributed to your career evolution?

I went to a summer school in my area of astronomy during the first year of my degree, but that's not much of an "update" as much as "learning". I'm probably not far enough to have needed such a course!

13 - For what professions would you be able to switch yours today?

There are many data analysis and software engineering jobs available, and I know many graduates move into jobs in finance/banking.

14 - Do you like your profession? What do you like the most and the least in your profession

Yes, I enjoy the friendly and equal environment - i.e. there's very little "manager/employee" feeling, but staff/postdocs/PhDs are treated relatively similarly. I'm currently having the joys of job searching, which is somewhat off-putting when the number of suitable openings is only a couple per month (we don't wish to move to North America or Asia for a job).

15 - Which characteristics should an individual have to practice the profession and have success in that?

A willingness to work without much guidance - you're often a leading expert in what you're doing, so finding someone more expert to guide you is difficult.

16 - In which way does your profession influence the rest of your daily routine?

I don't think it does too much, although the comments others make about spending all day thinking about the world "scientifically" are somewhat true. As my fiancée also does the same, we do sometimes end up discussing something strange like spectroscopic data reduction whilst in bed...

17 - How much do you make? (many of you won't like to give specific values so please put it in a range. Like "from about 750 to 1250€/$")

My annual stipend (i.e. not salary) is of the order of £12,000, which is standard in the UK for government-funded PhD students. Note that this is tax-free, and I receive additional pay for lab teaching activity (approx. twice minimum wage, up to 6 hours a week).

18 - In your opinion, what can we do to earn experience or to learn more about your profession?

Our department does a number of "work experience" and "summer school" activities for high school students; if you are interested, perhaps you can contact a department near you. Once you are in university, you can start looking at doing research projects during the summer vacation, and start reading journal articles (some are complex, some aren't!).

19 - How is nowadays the work market in your professional area? What are the evolution perspectives for the coming years?

The UK doesn't seem to be doing well, especially with the upcoming economic uncertainty, and removal of EU funding. I am hoping I will retain the right to work and live elsewhere in the EU, which greatly increases my job opportunities.

20 - Do you have any advice that you can give to a young student that is thinking about choosing this line of field?

Don't stress too much about preparing everything perfectly too early - I didn't choose astronomy specifically until I had already started my undergrad degree, and doing a PhD was quite a late decision in that; my fiancée was quite similar! Of course, preparation is good, and you will want to aim for being accepted onto a Physics/Astronomy degree at university, for which Maths and Physics are important requirements. Don't worry about doing an astronomy/astrophysics specific degree if they are hard to find; many of my fellow students have done pure Physics degrees, and a few did Maths degrees.

You will probably already know that much of Astrophysics is done in English, and so good reading/writing/speaking skills are needed. However, your English is already quite good, and reddit is probably a good place to practise! My relatively small department in the UK includes astronomers from Portugal, Ireland, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Canada, and Iran.

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]astrocubs 95 points96 points  (0 children)

Well since this seemed to have turned into an impromptu AMA of astronomers of reddit, I'll take a shot. I'm in (hopefully) the last year of my PhD and about to move across the country for a postdoc if any of my applications pull through. We'll find out in about 4 weeks.

1 - Where do you work? Do you work in a single place or in multiple places?

University in the western US. I work either at my desk in the department or my table in my apartment. Flexibility to work from home rather frequently is a major benefit of the job.

2 - How is a "normal day" to you? Which are the 4/5 most frequent tasks that you do in a daily basis?

Most of your job is working independently on your research (almost exclusively coding), writing up your results (lots of writing papers, you need to accept that), and talking to others about science. This includes reading & discussing the latest papers (most people get a nightly email with all the new astronomy papers published that day to skim through), meeting with your larger research group to help each other out, etc. Depending on your job, teaching can play either a very large role or no role at all in your life as well.

3 - What is the degree of responsability that you have in your work methods determination? If they are already determined, how are they already determinated and by who?

When you begin, most of your work will be dictated to you by your advisors. This is because they a) have the money to pay you to do specific things and b) are more experienced, understand the state of the field, and are actually able to identify where interesting projects can contribute. By the time you finish your PhD, you are an expert in your field as well. That means the rest of your career will largely be self-motivated. You identify where you can contribute to the field, advise students on projects, and lead your own research.

4 - How many hours do you work per day on average?

~8. I try to limit myself to 40 hour weeks because I've learned how burned out I can get if I push myself too hard. Personal time is incredibly important and my university at least has a very strong focus and culture of supporting work-life balance.

5 - Do you, as an astrofisicist, feel inclined to use any machines or tolos? If so which one?

Nah, not me personally, but there is a large section of astronomy devoted to developing the latest tech and pushing us forward through engineering.

6 - Does being an astrofisicist implies travelling?

So much great travel! It's one of the perks of the job! As a PhD student I've gotten to go to Switzerland, Hawaii, lots of CA, and a few other places around the US. I've also turned down travel to Israel and Paris because I decided I was actually too busy! You'll have plenty of chances to get paid to travel to amazing places and tack on vacations to the end of the trips to explore.

7 - What activities do you do in your free-time? How frequently can you do those activities?

Run, read, watch lots of sports, play board games with friends, etc. Lots of free time in the evenings if you maintain a good work-life balance!

8 - In which measure does your profession implies work with others?

You won't get far if you don't work well with others. Some of the best research projects are started over drinks at conferences. Building collaborations, networking, hearing about what other people are doing, is such a key part of science.

9 - Why did you choose this profession?

I've just always loved space and enjoyed science/math. I had undergrad advisors who gave me the chance to do research and I've sorta never stopped.

10 - What type of formation did you take to reach this profession? (habilitations, learnings, degrees, etc.)

I took the normal path: BA in astronomy, PhD in astronomy. You can come from almost any undergrad degree into astronomy, but you will almost always need a PhD to do astrophysics as a career.

11 - Did you had some other profession or hobby that helped you to enter your current profession? If so, in what way did that helped you?

My CS minor as an undergrad was so so useful. Coding is such a large part of the job and having some formal training helped me get going much faster.

12 - Is there any "update courses/degrees" (I really don't know the correct Word) in your profession that has contributed to your career evolution?

Not really... get your PhD and then keep going to conferences to stay on top of the field and figure out what the next big ideas will be to guide what you want to focus on.

13 - For what professions would you be able to switch yours today?

SO MANY Our PhD program probably only has about half of the people still doing astronomy 3-5 years after the get their PhD. But they're doing amazing things. Working for Google, Facebook, one is a famous Python developer, and I can't even count the number of different data science jobs at various companies people I know are now at and loving it.

14 - Do you like your profession? What do you like the most and the least in your profession

I love it. This week is the annual largest astronomy conference. 2000+ astronomers in one place updating each other on all the amazing stuff that's been done in the past year. It's so fun and refreshing and keeps you excited, reminds you that you get to study the universe for a living and meet great people doing it. My personal least favorite part is writing papers. I've never enjoyed that, but I do realize how important it is and I'm slowly getting better at it and hating it less.

15 - Which characteristics should an individual have to practice the profession and have success in that?

Coding and communication skills are probably the two biggest things I would name.

16 - In which way does your profession influence the rest of your daily routine?

I'm always thinking about things from the scientific point of view. It's really hard to turn that part of your brain off.

17 - How much do you make? (many of you won't like to give specific values so please put it in a range. Like "from about 750 to 1250€/$")

In the US, PhD students make ~$20-30k and postdocs ~$50-60k.

18 - In your opinion, what can we do to earn experience or to learn more about your profession?

If you want actual experience being an astronomer, the best way is to find some research internship or program.

19 - How is nowadays the work market in your professional area? What are the evolution perspectives for the coming years?

There's too many people with astronomy PhDs for the number of permanent jobs. But that shouldn't stop you from getting as far as the PhD. The unemployment rate for PhD astronomers is essentially 0%. You'll be able to get a job somewhere doing something enjoyable, even if it's not astronomy.

20 - Do you have any advice that you can give to a young student that is thinking about choosing this line of field?

Keep reading news about the latest discoveries and asking questions. Stay curious. Find local astronomy events (there will be tons of local societies or groups).

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]nickkrey 74 points75 points  (0 children)

Very glad you are excited and want to learn more.

For my perspective, I am an astrophysicist. I study star and planet formation. Sorry if this post is a little long but I want to address everything.

1.) I work at a University as a graduate student. I work mostly in a single place, as in most of my stay is at the university, but I remote use telescopes around the world.

2.) My normal day consists of mostly coding and meetings. In astrophysics, the field is really moving towards using both observations and theory development in tandem, so we will ask for observation time, observe with the telescope, and then try to model what we observe. So a lot of coding.

3.) So we have full responsibility of our work. Not too sure what you mean by this but I assume you mean how is our schedule determine or what we do determined. We generally just keep in contact with our professor and either he will say 'Hey you should look into this' and then we will do that or we will realize something that needs to be done and do it.

4.) This is a hard question. I really love what I do so I do not consider it work. I really enjoy going to my office and working or working from home. From start to finish I like the whole process. So I would say ~15 hours I put on a good day and about ~8h or so if I have other things to take care of. Somedays I will stay up and work just because you get caught up in a small project and lose track of time.

5.) So I use a lot of telescopes. Usually not hands on but I do love to do that. I think it is necessary that all astronomers know how a telescope works and reading articles and books will only teach you so much. You should know how the telescope operates and how the instruments on those telescope operates. Usually, telescope facilities also require you to visit their facility in-person before they allow you to remote observe.

6.) Depends on the sub-field of astrophysics. I wouldn't say it implies traveling, but networking is huge in astronomy. You need to meet other people in your sub-field and understand the workings of the facilities you are using. So traveling to conferences, universities, and telescopes isn't uncommon.

7.) I really enjoy coding and learning about computers as well. I try to learn other programming languages in my free time or to code small little projects that will help either my other hobbies or my own work. I also enjoy building and maintaining my own server (shoutout to r/Datahoarder). I get to work on this whenever I really feel like it within reason.

8.) In this day and age, it is very difficult to find a job in which you do not communicate with others. Especially in the sub-fields of astronomy, where there are only a hundred or so that are specialists you get to know them very well just by the way of co-Investigators on observation runs or conferences.

9.) I chose this profession because it is a combination of a lot of fields (chemistry, QM, EM, Mechanics, optics, math), allows me to code, and is a field that is constantly growing and changing.

10.) Physics BS-> (Working on) Physics PhD. I think the most important thing is I found something I enjoyed. Regardless of the path you choose, always follow with something you enjoy doing. That is what will make it fulfilling.

11.) Coding. Coding is a HUGE part of astronomy nowadays. Astronomy is all about trying to understand what we observe in the universe and the best way to do this is to model it. These models can be very large and very complicated and a solid understanding of coding and math is a huge milestone that can really help you out. Build up a portfolio so that you can show it off when you are interviewed.

12.) Not really sure what this is asking. In astronomy there are really 3 routes to do: BS->PhD to stay in academia, BS->instrumentation where you work on telescopes, BS-> outside academia working usually in data analysis.

13.) If I were to switch, I would go into telescope instrumentation, system administrations, or data analysis

14.) I really really enjoy my profession. What I like the most is the sense of wonder and the questions you will always fight to answer. What I like the least is usually the sense of entitlement that is felt not just in my field but generally in physics altogether. Physicists generally tend to look down upon other majors and it even happens within physics. I feel this ruins our public face (look at Neil Degrasse Tyson).

15.) The only habit you have to have is a desire to understand the 'how' of nature. This applies to any field of physics. We don't usually answer the questions of 'why' as in 'why are we here' that is generally left to philosophy (of which Physics is a child of) but we always seek to answer 'how does this happen'. If you have this desire for understanding then you will be motivated to learn and to perform research in whatever field you like.

16.) My daily routine is pretty much dominated by my profession. I try to plan my day around doing research but this doesn't mean I don't do other things. I still plan sleep-in days, movies, chatting with friends, etc.

17.) 16000-25000 USD

18.) So there are 2 answers for this: if you want to learn what the field does as a whole or if you want to learn specifically how to enter the field. If you want to learn about the field I would pickup the Nightwatch or Backyard Astronomer guide. These don't really teach the physics but will show you what to look for in the night sky. If you want to learn more specifically, I would either take a course in astronomy if you can, use online resources like http://www.opencourse.info/astronomy/introduction/, or get BoB (Carroll and Ostlie Introduction to astrophysics, this is very heavy in the physics and weight but will teach you specifically about astrophysics).

19.) I plan on staying in academia, so as long as you network and publish results then you can move on to postdoc and eventually professorship usually (a lot of other variables in here though). However, what your perspectives look like is dependent on you, not really your field. You can have a BS in astronomy but focus on computer science and have a good career in software development. It just really depends on you.

20.) The only advice I can give is to find what you really enjoy doing and try to figure out how to land a job doing that thing. For this specific line of work, I would start out (at your age) learning a programming language (you don't have to be a master at it but slowly learn over time) similar to C or python (hopefully both) and to slowly read astronomy books as well. Take astronomy classes or physics classes when you can and try to do small little projects here and there. See if you can get access to data from your teacher or see if there are side projects you can work on. The only way you are going to figure out what you like to do is to just try a little bit of it yourself. You can also read up on new achievements in The Astrophysics Journal and try to understand those (these will be >= college level topics).

EDIT: Thanks for the gold kind stranger. Clear skies.

If y'all have any questions please ask.

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]evanberkowitz 381 points382 points x2 (0 children)

1 - I'm not an astrophysicist, but my PhD was in nuclear astrophysics. I currently do computational particle and nuclear physics (and have condensed matter and stringy side projects).

When I graduated I took a postdoctoral research position at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, outside of San Francisco, working on nuclear and particle physics. I currently work as a postdoctoral researcher at Forschungszentrum Jülich. As a postdoc in California, my only employer was LLNL but I often went to nearby academic institutions: Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and Stanford, to work with colleagues. Once a week or thereabouts.

2 - My field involves a lot of computational physics. What I do on a day to day basis depends on the stage of a variety of projects. If one is close to the end, I might be doing data analysis or writing up a paper. If one is near the beginning, this usually involves writing, compiling, and debugging code. In the middle of a project, I'm making sure the computers are churning along. I always have multiple projects going on, because the computers work for months and months and you'd hardly get any results if you only had one project at a time.

3 - I have a large degree of responsibility. I have a "main" project that I was hired to do. But I wind up spending a good fraction of my time on related projects and some on unrelated projects. The projects I was hired for also involve a large amount of creativity, it's not that I'm following someone else's directions. Just, broadly speaking, the subject was set. But I only considered jobs where I'd be happy with the main efforts.

4 - I work between 8 and 10 hours a day. But it's also very flexible. If I come in at 10 and leave at 6 some days, or come in at 8:30 and leave at 6, or whatever, nobody's looking over my shoulder. At my current job I do have a time card I have to swipe.

5 - Again, I'm not doing astrophysics any more. I often write code in C++ or python (especially numpy and matplotlib). But my first love, and the tool that was most useful during my PhD when I actually did do astrophysics, was Mathematica.

6 - All science entails traveling. How much traveling depends on the stage in your career. I traveled a little bit in graduate school, but as a postdoc I travel a lot more. In 2017, for work I spent a week in the Netherlands, a day in Mainz, a week in Oak Ridge, a week in Granada, two weeks in Seattle, a week in Trento, and a week in Denmark. I've been to England, Japan, and all over the US in previous years.

7 - I don't often feel like I have a lot of free time day-to-day. I'll often work or read papers when at home. I go to German classes, I travel for fun. I run and rock climb, but not as much as I should!

8 - Science is at once individually creative and collaborative. Essentially 0 of my projects are just me. Some of them are with one or two other people, and some are with a large group. Whether this implies working with someone (that is, standing in front of a blackboard together) or working independently and comparing results after depends on the project.

9 - I have always loved science. When I got to college I thought for sure I wanted to be either an aero/astro engineer or a computer scientist (which is different from a computer programmer!). But I had taken AP physics in high school, so I took the advanced introduction to physics---and I was hooked. I took the advanced second semester, and knew it was for me. In graduate school I thought I would do high-energy particle physics or string theory. But those advisors didn't have any positions open, and a professor I really got along with had room for me.

10 - I graduated from high school having taken AP Physics, AP Chemistry, BC Calculus, AP Computer Science, and a college introduction to topology course. I also did a project with a computational physicist at a local university. In college I got a BS in physics with a minor in mathematics. In graduate school I got a PhD in physics.

11 - I played with legos and liked building stuff as a kid. I think that helped spur my passion, but I don't know to what extent it actually helped me get where I am.

12 - I'm not sure what you mean by this. I go to conferences and workshops to learn the latest and greatest stuff in my field.

13 - A lot of experimental physicists wind up with tangible skills (welding, optics, whatever). All I have is my brain, and computer programming skills. I could probably find a job in finance (yuck) or working for some tech firm / as a data scientist.

14 - I love what I do. I get up each day, excited to go to work. It's awesome. I get to learn all the time. Sometimes I get an idea, and it isn't garbage! That's the best feeling.

The worst thing is that science is inevitably political. There isn't enough money for everyone who wants a job to get one, there isn't enough computer time for everybody to be able to do all of their projects, etc. Decisions and priorities get made. So very good people wind up leaving the field. Who stays is determined both by their results and their connections---it has very little to do with how hard you work (except that hard work tends to translate into more results---but not always! Sometimes a project just doesn't work).

15 - Patience. Humility. The ability to listen. The ability to hear criticism constructively. Creativity. Eagerness.

16 - Moving for postdocs has made it hard to settle down. I know I won't be here for very long. That can make it difficult to build a good community. By the time I had a good group of friends in California it was time to move to Germany!

17 - In California I made a lot more (but my cost of living was higher too). In Germany I take home (meaning, don't count health care, retirement, etc.) between 30 and 40,000€ per year. But I'm also not a professor yet. I expect wherever I wind up permanently (if I can find a permanent job) I will be making about 60,000€ or higher in Europe and around 100,000€ in the US.

18 - Start research as soon as you can. At 14, that might mean looking for a scientist at a nearby university to work on a project with. Note that this doesn't mean you should necessarily search only for astrophysicists! In fact, at a young age it may be beneficial to try some other things---maybe when it comes down to it you love genetics, or chemistry, or something, and just don't know it yet, because "doing" science is different from learning about it.

Learn to code. Every part of science is becoming computational. The days of a lone genius with a piece of paper and a pencil are over. Comfort with coding is already important and will be essential by the time you are in graduate school. May as well get a head start.

19 - In my little niche subfield there were about 15 junior professor jobs in the world. Everybody in my field applies to every one of these job, and I know essentially all my competitors. I also applied to about 5 "general" searches that sounded like I could fit in---these positions get about 150 to 200 applicants. I have applied for professor jobs every year since getting my PhD but didn't expect to get any interviews until last year, when I got one. This year I have one scheduled already, but I expect to have a few others before everything is said and done. Next year will be my sixth year since getting my PhD, and that tends to be the make-it-or-break-it year. If I don't get a faculty position in the next round, I'm not sure if I'll look for another postdoc or if I'll look to leave science.

20 - Don't be "snobby"! When I got to grad school, I thought for sure I'd be working in a particular field, wound up working on something else, and now do a third thing. There are a LOT of interesting questions, and you don't have the background knowledge to understand most of them. But that will change as you learn, and don't be afraid to pursue something that isn't what you thought you always wanted. Maybe you'll find out that you're interested in condensed matter experiment or something. Who knows!


PS. Your questions are great and show a lot of thought.

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]Astrokiwi 2308 points2309 points x2 (0 children)

I'm an astrophysicist, working on my second postdoctoral position in the UK.

1 - Where do you work? Do you work in a single place or in multiple places?

I work in an office at a university, which I share with two other "postdocs". Sometimes I go away for conferences, but for the day-to-day job, it's a normal 9am-5pm day in an office.

2 - How is a "normal day" to you? Which are the 4/5 most frequent tasks that you do in a daily basis?

I do simulations, so I do a lot of programming. I spend a lot of time writing and debugging code, running simulations with the code I have written, and writing code to analyse and plot the data. I also spend a lot of time new reading research articles that others have written (from arxiv.org), and writing up my own research into articles to publish in academic journals (remember that "journal" in English does not mean "newspaper"!). We also have several seminar speakers each week, both invited from other universities and local speakers, so I regularly go to hear those talks. Finally, I also have meetings with my supervisor and other researchers to talk about our work and get advice from each other.

3 - What is the degree of responsability that you have in your work methods determination? If they are already determined, how are they already determinated and by who?

I basically get to choose to do whatever I want to do. My supervisor gives advice and sets the general plan, but he does not have the final say in how I actually choose to solve each problem.

4 - How many hours do you work per day on average?

I'm currently taking parental leave, and working 7 hour days so I can be home before my baby goes to bed.

5 - Do you, as an astrofisicist, feel inclined to use any machines or tolos? If so which one?

I use a standard Apple powerbook as my "terminal", but I run all my simulations on servers which might have thousands of processors or more. On the big servers you have to share the space and often your programs have to wait in a queue before they start. We are lucky enough to have a couple of smaller servers (like 88 processors and 176 processors) that are only used by a few of us. I'm personally the biggest user of these servers, often using 200 processors at a time across the two of them.

6 - Does being an astrofisicist implies travelling?

Yes! You often get to go to one or two international conferences each year. Many of the observers go to South America to do observations. Most conferences are in Europe or the US so I take one or two trips each year, depending on our budget. Recently I've been taking fewer trips to spend less time away from my daughter.

I have also moved a lot between jobs. I did my undergrad back in New Zealand, then a PhD in Nova Scotia, Canada, then took a year off in South Korea to teach, then did my first postdoctoral research position in Quebec, and now I'm in England.

7 - What activities do you do in your free-time? How frequently can you do those activities?

I am strict at not working outside of work hours. Maybe this means I'm falling behind, but I'd rather fail to keep up with research and end up with a job outside of academia than work my arse off to get research done, but never see my wife and daughter.

Outside of work, I don't have many hobbies outside of just playing with my daughter and watching netflix with my wife. I play video games (we finally got a ps4), read comic books, and sometimes fiddle around with little programming projects. But I go to bed pretty early (because baby wakes up early), so I often only have time in the evening (after dinner and after baby is down) to just watch a bit of tv before bed.

8 - In which measure does your profession implies work with others?

Not all that much. Some people are involved in big collaborations, but I usually end up doing most of the research myself, with just a bit of talking to others to polish the final paper and make sure all the analysis makes sense. With my current project, I do actual rely on a PhD student who is producing tables for my simulation. I also have many fun debates with my supervisor about how to approach each problem. But in the end, about 80% of my time I'm just sitting at a computer by myself.

9 - Why did you choose this profession?

I've always been interested in astronomy, ever since I was a kid. I read all the astronomy books by Isaac Asimov and was big into science fiction.

10 - What type of formation did you take to reach this profession? (habilitations, learnings, degrees, etc.)

For training ("formation" has a different meaning in English), I did a BSc and an MSc in physics, and then a PhD in astronomy.

11 - Did you had some other profession or hobby that helped you to enter your current profession? If so, in what way did that helped you?

I did a lot of programming in my spare time when I was at high school. I did a lot of fiddling about with Java, which isn't used in astronomy, but it was useful to learn the general ideas about programming. Today, I use a lot of Python, C, C++, and Fortran.

12 - Is there any "update courses/degrees" (I really don't know the correct Word) in your profession that has contributed to your career evolution?

I haven't really done any formal education since my PhD

13 - For what professions would you be able to switch yours today?

What would I like to switch to? - The same job, but with more pay :P What could I switch to? - Some Engineering jobs that also do physics simulations (e.g. aerospace)

14 - Do you like your profession? What do you like the most and the least in your profession

I like the freedom, the prestige, and the interesting problems. I don't like that it's a risky career path - you don't have a permanent job until you're well into your 30s, and I still don't know if I'm going to be an astrophysicist when I'm 40. It also does not pay well for having 10 years of university.

15 - Which characteristics should an individual have to practice the profession and have success in that?

Perseverance and hard work mostly.

16 - In which way does your profession influence the rest of your daily routine?

Not hugely - I just work in an office.

17 - How much do you make? (many of you won't like to give specific values so please put it in a range. Like "from about 750 to 1250€/$")

About £30k per year

18 - In your opinion, what can we do to earn experience or to learn more about your profession?

Doing a physics degree is always an option. If you can do a double major with computer science, that will keep your employment opportunities more open.

19 - How is nowadays the work market in your professional area? What are the evolution perspectives for the coming years?

Bad, and it will get worse. There are too many PhDs and not enough permanent jobs. About 20% of people who complete a PhD in astrophysics will still be working as an astrophysicist 15 years later. With the skills you need to become an astrophysicist, you could get paid twice as much in industry and have better job security.

20 - Do you have any advice that you can give to a young student that is thinking about choosing this line of field?

Remember that it is possible to keep astronomy as a hobby, to join an astronomical society to go star-gazing and so on. The day-to-day job isn't all that different to what a lot of engineers and programmers are doing - solving problems using complex equations and communicating the results - and those jobs can be just as rewarding while paying a lot more. Astrophysics has the advantage of sounding impressive, but it's a big risk if you don't end up with a permanent position.

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]IamaScaleneTriangle 3938 points3939 points x2 (0 children)

Hi Francisco,

I'm an astrophysicist currently working in the US. I grew up in England and briefly worked for a Portuguese astronomer, David Sobral! It was fun to work and visit in Lisbon. I'll try my best to answer your questions:

1 - I work in the US. I'm usually based in a single location, and access data on my computer. The telescope I use is based in South Africa.

2 - Normally I start working around 9am and leave around 6pm. I spend a lot of time computer programming (usually using the Python language), and doing mathematics on paper. Sometimes I write papers detailing the work I've done over the previous 6 months - a year.

3 - I have a supervisor who is interested in getting certain questions answered, but I don't have to spent all my time doing exactly what he wants me to. In fact, he's usually much more interested in me taking my own initiative and trying a bunch of different things out to solve a problem -- hopefully one of them ends up working!

4 - Roughly 9 hours, with about an hour's break.

5 - I spend most of my time computer programming. I use a Linux computer (as opposed to Windows or Apple), typically programme in the Python, MySQL and Shell languages, and write papers using a language called LaTeX (which is sort of like writing a text document using code).

6 - Sometimes you get to travel! Some astronomers spend a lot of time travelling. Myself, I go to one or two conferences a year. I've been all over the USA and the UK, parts of Europe, and one conference I got to go to was in India.

7 - I really like reading history books, playing board games, and cooking. Running around with my friends is fun too!

8 - I'm a member of a research team. About 5 people work at my university on the same telescope that I use, and about 40 people all over the world also work on it.

9 - It's a longer story than I really want to get in to here, but I chose to pursue the study of astronomy because I thought it was SUPER COOL. I also liked working with computers and mathematics and learning new things!

10 - I did my A-Levels (UK high-school level degree) in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. I also took advanced level mathematics called "Further Mathematics", which was by far the most fun. Then I got an undergraduate and Master's degree in Physics, with a concentration in Astrophysics. Now I'm almost finished with my PhD in Astronomy.

11 - Not really. Most of my free time when I was your age was spent playing with my siblings and my friends, and doing a lot of reading and cycling. When I was in University, though, I got internships to work with astronomers in Arizona (USA), Leiden (Netherlands) and Lisbon. Those experiences really helped me get into a PhD program.

12 - Learning how to computer program in any language is definitely the most important skill I could recommend investing time in. Python is relatively easy to pick up. The first language I learned was Java, which I don't use very often any more, but it was valuable to learn early-on because it's stricter with you! Like when you have a harsh teacher, but you end up learning a lot in their class (more maybe than with a nice teacher).

13 - I'm about to switch, but I'm not sure where to. There are a few different directions I'm considering, including artificial intelligence, "data science" (which is a bit like doing mathematics for private companies), and doing research for private companies.

14 - I like the freedom I'm given to pursue what I'm interested in, and that most of the time deadlines are pretty easy to meet. I don't like that it's so hard to get government funding for experiments, and that the school I work at is very conservative about how they pay and support their employees.

15 - Patience. It can get really frustrating to have to do the same thing over and over again, just changing the tiniest thing each time, to figure out what's right and wrong.

16 - I don't have much free time to pursue other hobbies right now, but I like to think that if I really needed more time to do something other than my work, my supervisor would understand.

17 - As a PhD student, I make about $30,000 a year. That's pretty good for where I'm living in the US. It roughly doubles after you get your PhD and start the next stage of research, which is called a "Postdoc".

18 - Learn how to computer program!

19 - Unfortunately, opportunities for work are getting harder and harder to find. The current political scene in this country is making it harder than ever, but it's actually been declining for a very long time. That's one of the reasons I'm not going to continue on to a Postdoc level position.

20 - Read a lot of different things (not just about science) and enjoy your time in school. Ask questions to EVERYONE! You've definitely made a good start here. And think about learning some computer programming.

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]Andromeda321 153 points154 points  (0 children)

Astronomer here! I actually get this question a lot, enough that I wrote up a post here on how to be an astronomer. Which includes answers to most of your questions:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi there!

Chances are you're reading this because you messaged me saying you want to be an astronomer, and you want some advice on how to do that or hear what it's like. I get several of these queries a week, so for the sake of time I thought I'd write this up here so I have it handy in one location.

First, caveat time: you are getting advice from one person based on her experiences (which are, in short, BSc/MSc in Physics in the USA, currently doing a PhD in radio astronomy in Europe/Canada). Other people would give you other advice- here is some really good advice I like to pass around, from a professional astronomical organization.

Second, astronomy vs astrophysics: several have asked what the difference is, so I want to mention these days there is no real difference between an astronomer and an astrophysicist- it's just a historical distinction. Astronomy these days is really just a branch of physics where we use the entire universe as our laboratory, and there are plenty of astronomers working in physics departments these days! So don't get hung up on the difference, there isn't one and what you call yourself is a personal preference more than anything.

So, that said, let's answer a few questions!

I'm in high school. What do I have to do now?

The first thing in my opinion that's important to do in high school is get your math down cold. Like, know your algebra, and know your trig functions, in such a way that you can recite them in your sleep. I know this isn't what bright students usually want to do- you want to show what a hotshot you are in college math years ahead of where you are!- but trust me, if you don't know your high school math solid for when you go to university it will burn you and you will most likely not do well. I cannot tell you how many students I've taught or gone to class with who were good at physics but kept not doing well because they'd mess up in the algebra... and a physics exam is not a good place to try and remember your unit circle!

Beyond that, obviously science courses and all that jazz are important. You can likely figure that part out on your own.

The only other thing I would add if you're in high school, especially if you're US based, is check out the astronomy camp run by the University of Arizona (need-based scholarships available). Basically you get to go out to Arizona for a week and play with telescopes at night- it's a wonderful program that I'm still involved with today, and was the best thing I did as an astronomy-interested teen!

What should I think about for college?

First, to be an astronomer it is not essential to get a BSc in Astronomy- as I said, mine's in physics!- but something physics, math, or engineering related is definitely vital (geology is also acceptable if you're thinking of going into planetary science). As such, research schools that are strong in physics/engineering- often these will have an astronomy dept (or have astronomers in their physics dept- astronomy is basically applied physics these days), but it's not an absolute requirement to have an astronomy department at this stage if you can't manage to go to a uni with one. I'm not going to list schools here with programs, as Reddit is too international for this.

Once you're in college, consider dabbling in programming a bit beyond the math/physics/astronomy/engineering stuff, and definitely get to know your professors and see if there's opportunities for research on campus in some form. I ended up doing some really nice lab work during my summers thanks to getting to know my professor first semester freshman year... even worked with him through my MSc! If you are in the USA, also consider REUs.

Final but very important note: you were probably the brightest kid in your high school class. University, on the other hand, is hard and filled with bright kids who fail out all the time. Do not be that kid! Go to class! Do your homework! Ask help when you need it! And most of all, realize the biggest thing is being stubborn and working hard. At the end of the day, this is what people remember most about you.

Also, nothing to do with anything, but consider studying abroad, as I had a wonderful time doing it. :)

What's after that? (TL;DR: more school!)

These days, to be a professional astronomer, you should plan and assume you will get your PhD. The good news is you are paid to do your PhD, and you will be doing a lot of research at this stage! There are lots of good summaries on how to specifically go to get your PhD- here is a US-specific one, and here is one for Europe (which I wrote!).

Bottom line: you are going to be one well-educated person when you're done with all this... which makes sense if you want to professionally study the universe.

If, on the other hand, you are someone who is not interested in being a pro astronomer, but just think you really want to be an astronomy or physics major in undergrad... well I know plenty of folks who have done that! Most are in jobs that are engineering related (you just spent four years solving problems, after all), but beyond that I know people in actuarial science, on Wall Street, teaching, at a planetarium, nuclear sub technician, defense contractors, and even a librarian and a rock climbing instructor. People who major in astro/physics do go on to do a lot of really interesting things!

What kind of jobs do astronomers/ astrophysicists have? How competitive is it?

To get the bad news out of the way first: being an astronomer is extremely competitive. There are just not enough professional jobs to support everyone who wants to do it, PhD level and onwards. That said, I do not know anyone who became an astronomer and then ended up starving in the streets: you are learning some great problem solving skills, so even if the astronomy thing doesn't work out for you in the long run you'll probably be getting good money (often far more than if you stayed in astronomy!). I have "extronomer" friends in all sorts of jobs: programming of various types, teaching high school, at planetariums, finance, defense, science journalism... there really are a lot of things people end up doing who decide to leave the field for whatever reason, and at a higher starting pay than the "leave after undergrad" crowd discussed a bit further above.

That said, what about those actual astronomy jobs? Well astronomers are usually attached to research institutes at universities or government labs (like NASA or US Naval Observatory in the USA), usually doing mainly research but also a bit of teaching if at a university. What does research actually entail? That's kind of a hard one to answer: basically it involves taking your observations and analyzing them and writing up what you've found. (Unless you're a theorist, then you're making up your theory and then writing up what you've found.) Good writing skills are important! It's a bit hard to quantify, but I can tell you it does not involve going out to an observatory every night and just looking at stars. No one does that job anymore, I'm afraid.

Finally, do check out the AAS Job Register if you're curious about various open positions in astronomy and astrophysics (updated the 1st of the month). This is the definitive website that astronomers go to for job listings for postdoc and faculty positions, though often they list other random little things too such as open PhD positions or support/technical staff at astronomy institutions. It might give you an idea of what sort of work you can hope to find in the field.

I have another question you didn't answer here...

My apologies! Please comment below, I'm happy to answer any further questions.

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]smellybuttface2 919 points920 points  (0 children)

Olá Francisco! (I’m Portuguese as well but I’m gonna reply in English otherwise it would be rude for our fellow redditors) :P I’m not an Astrophysicist yet but I’m studying to become one. I’m currently studying a Masters by Research degree, so I may be able to answer some of your questions, but not all of them.

7 – Free time is yours – do whatever you like most! I personally dance ballet (have been doing so for many years) thought I also enjoy learning new languages and reading. As always, the frequency really depends on your organisation. If you’re committed and understand well when is work time and when is free time, you should be able to do it quite regularly.

8 – From observing fellow colleagues and Professors I can tell you that the job of a physicist (astrophysicist, particle physicist, you name it) involves a lot of team work. Quite often you will work on a project that unfortunately doesn’t have much budget, so you will have to work with other institutions, universities, etc, to make it happen. However, it appears to me that theorists don’t have to work in a team as much as experimentalists do. That is, if you wish to pursue a career more in cosmology, as opposed to observational astrophysics, then chances are there won’t be as many of you and you will be working mostly by yourself.

9 – I chose this degree subject because I love space and I love solving problems. There’s still so much to learn and space is so big, that one can get a bit overwhelmed! Also, existential questions keep popping on my mind often (why are we here, where did we come from…) so I want to get to work on a fantastic subject like this one that is trying to answer some of these questions. 10 – If you want to follow a career for the rest of your life in this subject then a PhD would be advisable. Also, I cannot emphasise enough: learn a programming language!! It doesn’t matter if it’s C++, Python, Mathematica, you name it. I went to uni without knowing excel and I really struggled for the first few months. If you already go in knowing some sort of programming language that will make your life soooo much easier.

11 – This might be a weird one, but I would say that some small summer job in something completely unrelated to Astrophysics can help you a lot. I learnt more about working in a team, under pressure conditions and dealing with confrontations in an office/shop then I did in all my years at school. However, any internship, summer course that you can take in this area is also helpful.

15 – Always always try to work smart, not hard. Much better to spend longer on a line of code if that means your future workload will be reduced. Be a good listener! It’s so important to listen to your colleagues/supervisors and understand their struggles/opinions. Enjoying solving problems and not being put off by challenges, etc.

18 – I think I’ve replied to this one on 11, but any internship/course you can do with an institution in this area is helpful. Even if it’s just spending some time at your local planetarium.

20 – Tough days will come but don’t give up! It’s such a rewarding subject – you will love it. Also, don’t overwork yourself (I did that – didn’t work!).

Boa sorte e espero que consigas alcançar os teus sonhos!!! :D

Edit: Yay, I got a lil golden star!!! Thanks so much!! :D

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]Meraji 11.0k points11.0k points x2 (0 children)

Hello Francisco, I'm glad you are interested. I'll be answering your questions from two perspectives: mine as an astrophysicist who left the field, and my partners who is still an active astrophysicist.

1 - Where do you work? Do you work in a single place or in multiple places?

I have moved into a computer industry consulting position and work from home. My partner works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and also from home.

2 - How is a "normal day" to you? Which are the 4/5 most frequent tasks that you do in a daily basis?

Normal days for both of us are filled with computer programming.

3 - What is the degree of responsability that you have in your work methods determination? If they are already determined, how are they already determinated and by who?

In astrophysics and broadly in research science, you have near total responsibility for your own work and interests. However, most positions also include significant teaching components as well, which is more determined by academic departments.

4 - How many hours do you work per day on average?

In industry, I work 40-50 hours a week. In astrophysics, my partner works typically 80 hours a week.

5 - Do you, as an astrofisicist, feel inclined to use any machines or tolos? If so which one?

Astrophysicists must be expert computer programmers. Practically all research now uses computers and numerical simulation.

6 - Does being an astrofisicist implies travelling?

There can be significant amounts of international travel to conferences, several times each year.

7 - What activities do you do in your free-time? How frequently can you do those activities?

Lots of TV. :)

8 - In which measure does your profession implies work with others?

There is lots of work with other people and lots of work alone. Most papers that are written are collaborative papers, and the astrophysics community is not too large, so in a particular field you get to know everyone in time.

9 - Why did you choose this profession?

We both chose to do astrophysics because we loved the science. I chose to leave because career opportunities in the field are few (there is no industrial need for astrophysicists) and are extremely competitive for relatively low wage.

10 - What type of formation did you take to reach this profession? (habilitations, learnings, degrees, etc.)

You need a PhD in astrophysics/astronomy/physics to have any chance of a career in astrophysics. Also undergraduate degrees in math/computer science will help a lot.

11 - Did you had some other profession or hobby that helped you to enter your current profession? If so, in what way did that helped you?

Most astrophysicists have trained solely for that profession, but data science is a related profession that lots of astrophysicists get into.

12 - Is there any "update courses/degrees" (I really don't know the correct Word) in your profession that has contributed to your career evolution?

You need a PhD in astrophysics or something similar. You also need strong computer programming skills.

13 - For what professions would you be able to switch yours today?

Data scientist, software developer, tech support are some of the most common I've seen.

14 - Do you like your profession? What do you like the most and the least in your profession

We love the science of astrophysics, but neither of us really like the current situation as a career. The job opportunities are very competitive, the pay is relatively low, and there are few jobs outside of academia.

15 - Which characteristics should an individual have to practice the profession and have success in that?

You need to be highly self-motivated, more than anything. And you have to love doing it. You are also learning English, which is very necessary (most astrophysicists first language is not English, but I don't know many who can't speak it) so you are on the right track.

16 - In which way does your profession influence the rest of your daily routine?

We both spend all day on our computers. It can be a challenge to get away from work.

17 - How much do you make? (many of you won't like to give specific values so please put it in a range. Like "from about 750 to 1250€/$")

In a NASA position, my partner currently makes ~$70,000. Having left the field, with far easier and less work, I make $150,000.

18 - In your opinion, what can we do to earn experience or to learn more about your profession?

I don't know about Portugal, but in the US there are lots of outreach programs that observatories and university departments have for high school and undergraduate college students. Try to look into those.

19 - How is nowadays the work market in your professional area? What are the evolution perspectives for the coming years?

I believe the US has the strongest job market for astrophysics (though Germany is strong as well), and it is still very competitive. Most couples that I know have a very difficult time finding a job in the same area of the country/world.

20 - Do you have any advice that you can give to a young student that is thinking about choosing this line of field?

Definitely consider this all the way through undergraduate college. While studying astrophysics, you have a lot of opportunities to learn math, physics, computer programming and other very marketable skills.

Thanks for reading all of this and please respond in the comments the answers to these questions ;) Hope you have a wonderful day, Francisco Ferreira

EDIT: Thanks to /u/MogusMaximus for the formatting, and a huge thank you to nearly everyone in this thread and in this post for being awesome. Also, there are some common questions that folks are asking that I can comment on:

  • Our programming is largely in Python now, though plenty of other languages (C, SQL, etc.) are still used. Knowing how to program well is much more important to success that than the specific language.

  • It is true, we don't pay our highly educated research folks enough, and that's the case in most fields, not just astrophysics. I don't know any astrophysicist who does it for the money, people do it for the science and to contribute to the body of human knowledge.

  • For privacy, I'm not going into much more detail about our jobs, but while the numbers above may not be completely representative of every person staying in or leaving the astrophysics field, that trend of being able to find a higher salary job doing anything else is certainly true.

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]Senno_Ecto_Gammat[M] [score hidden] stickied comment (0 children)

Please keep your comments on topic. Comments about what you mistakenly thought you read, those critical of the fluency, and comments seeking only to correct some minor and unimportant element of the writing will be removed. There's no need for such pendantry.

Dear astrofisicists of Reddit, by francisc2003 in space

[–]DaddyIssuesCounselor 2182 points2183 points  (0 children)

Hijacking this comment to let you know about a challenge in universidade Nova de Lisboa that is geared towards highschool students like you, where you can win a trip to NASA , the challenge name is "FCT Nova challenge", feel free to contact if you want more information

Astronaut John Young has died, the only person to have piloted, and been commander of, four different classes of spacecraft: Gemini, the Apollo Command/Service Module, the Apollo Lunar Module, and the Space Shuttle. by gaslightjoe in space

[–]Senno_Ecto_Gammat 9853 points9854 points  (0 children)

  • John Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich on Gemini 3 (the first crewed Gemini flight). He pulled it out and Gus Grissom said "Where did that come from?" Young replied "I brought it with me." He only took one bite and later said "I took a bite, but crumbs of rye bread started floating all around the cabin."

  • He was the first astronaut to be alone in the Apollo command module. That was on Apollo 10. Edit: the first alone in lunar orbit. I have been corrected. Thanks!

  • He was on the backup crew for Apollo 13, and so was integral in developing the procedures for keeping the LM and CSM alive which saved the prime crew.

  • On Apollo 16 he flew to the lunar surface. During the final descent his heart rate was 90 bpm. Armstrong's was 170bpm for the same period. Young was the driver for the famous Lunar Grand Prix in the rover. That's him in this image. He said it was hard to judge distances on the moon "because there aren't any telephone poles up there."

  • He flew on the first shuttle flight STS-1. When he was asked if he was worried about it he said "Anyone who sits on top of the largest hydrogen-oxygen fueled system in the world - knowing they're going to light the bottom and doesn't get a little worried — does not fully understand the situation." Once on orbit, he reviewed damage to the OMS pods and said that it looked like bites had been taken out of them.

  • Also on STS-1, a flap was damaged by the shockwave from the SRBs at launch, and the damage was so severe that John Young (who only found out about it after they landed), said that had the crew known about it during launch they would have gone up to a safe altitude and ejected from the orbiter.

  • After the Challenger explosion, John Young wrote a memo to NASA management in which he said, among a bunch of other things, that NASA's disregard for safety would put additional shuttle crews at risk. Columbia, which he flew on STS-1, was later destroyed in flight as a result of a problem Young identified on STS-1: debris falling from the external tank.

  • In 2003 he wrote, "The human race is at total war. Our enemy is ignorance, pure and simple."

Dude had the right stuff.

Timelapse of the world's largest rocket, Falcon Heavy, being erected - From Elon Musk Official by Craig_VG in space

[–]downloads-cars 400 points401 points  (0 children)

For those of you scratching your head about the acronym, it stands for "Radical Upsie Daisy"

Edit: Woke up to gold! Thanks!

Alien megastructure not the cause of dimming of the 'most mysterious star in the universe' by Greg-2012 in space

[–]Glomgore 101 points102 points  (0 children)

Light takes time to travel, ie, speed of light. If the star is 10 light years away, it means it takes ten years at the speed of light to get from a to b.

January 1, 1925 was a singular moment in the history of science: the day we discovered the universe. by MaryADraper in space

[–]xroni 517 points518 points  (0 children)

Here is an ELI12:

It is a composite image consisting of 800 individual photos taken over a period of 11 days, stacked on top of eachother. That part of the sky is so dark that you need a very long exposure time in order to get enough light to even see any galaxies. The total exposure time needed for the image was around 1 million seconds. It is not possible to do it in a single image, simply because the Hubble telescope is orbiting the earth. It cannot keep its lens focused on the same spot for so long without the planet getting in the way. The 800 images were taken over a period of 400 orbits, 2 images per orbit.

4 filters were used but equal exposure time was given to every filter. The filters are tuned to let only parts of the light spectrum through which are of particular interest in observing light from galaxies, this helps greatly to reduce noise in the final image.

What's also interesting is that they used a trick to increase the resolution of the final image so that it is actually a finer resolution than the actual pixel count of the CCD. The telescope was moved very slightly in half of the exposures so that it would take images that are exactly 0.5 pixels next to the "regular" exposures in all directions. By averaging the pixels and half-pixels mathematically they got a final image that is more detailed than what the telescope can do in a single exposure.

edit: Thanks for the gold!

Heard one of the most profound statements on a voyager documentary: "In the long run, Voyager may be the only evidence that we ever existed" by OPsellsPropane in space

[–]saratorna 225 points226 points  (0 children)

Independent of the discussion of where the solar system ends, when Voyager or Pioneer threads come up I like to mention the interstellar trajectories of those spacecraft:

https://i.imgur.com/mPk8acx.png

That's a plot for the next 50,000 years. Motion is computed from a set of ODEs accounting for gravity, motion of the stars is taken from Simbad and converted into cartesian space. The frame is barycentric ecliptic.

Voyager 1 is headed toward the path that Barnard's Star is crossing the sky on, but Barnard's Star will be long gone by the time Voyager 1 gets to that distance.

Voyager 2 is headed in a southerly direction vs Voyager 1, and isn't heading toward anything in particular. Voyager 2 and Sirius will get vaguely near each other (~3.2 LY) in about 248,000 years.

Pioneer 10 is the only spacecraft heading into that hemisphere of sky. Its motion vector (in UVW) is approximately the same that Alpha Centauri's is, but there's nothing really in that direction in space for at least a dozen or so LY except GJ 1111 (which is already moving away, close approach is in 52 years at 11.82 LY).

Pioneer 11 and New Horizons are heading vaguely in the same direction, toward the path that AC+79 3888 crossing.

AC+79 3888 is probably the closest approach star for all of Voyager 1, Pioneer 11 and New Horizons: about 1.8 LY in 43700 years for Voyager 1, 1.88 LY in 46230 years for Pioneer 11 and 1.73 LY in 47480 years for New Horizons (barring any more maneuvering, which it still can do).

A/2017 U1 (now known as 1I/Oumuamua) is also plotted, and Ross 248 will pass by it with a close approach distance of ~1.5 LY in about 29470 years. Oumuamua's sun-relative velocity at that point will be about 26.3 km/sec, and relative to Ross 248 will be about 81.3 km/sec, thanks to the high velocity of Ross 248.

Heard one of the most profound statements on a voyager documentary: "In the long run, Voyager may be the only evidence that we ever existed" by OPsellsPropane in space

[–]FeatheredSun 205 points206 points  (0 children)

Wow. This suggests a pretty bleak circumstance.

A society evolves and flourishes for a few thousand years, launches a probe containing its collective hopes and dreams, and then declines and becomes extinct.

Fifty thousand years later, that probe (now covered with an accretion of dust and rock) tumbles past a planet freshly undergoing it's own flourishing period...as if signifying "this too will be your fate"...and it tumbles on, mostly unnoticed.

Heard one of the most profound statements on a voyager documentary: "In the long run, Voyager may be the only evidence that we ever existed" by OPsellsPropane in space

[–]PlutiPlus 746 points747 points  (0 children)

More specifically - something the size of Voyager in the universe.

Edit: Oh stars... gold! Thank you, kind stranger!