Here I am on a Mountain Top. Now What?

Those of you with keen eyes will notice that its been quite awhile since I last published a blog post. I’m sorry about that. 2012 is a blur. We sold our house in San Diego, California and moved to a mountain top in the Southern part of New Mexico (not far from Apache Point). We have an observatory and we have a house that’s about 50% complete. Maybe. (Any of you who have built a house before know exactly what I’m talking about.)

So, here I am on top of this beautiful mountain. Now, what? A lot of astronomy, that’s what. And, more frequent blog posts. I really like writing my blog and I’ve been gratified to see how many hits it continues to get each week even though I’ve been a slacker.

With regard to my astronomy future, I have a two-pronged approach planned. First, I will be moving toward a life of citizen science. I will start by improving my imaging skills, then I will learn how to effectively use a grating spectroscope and then move on to low-to-medium resolution spectroscopy with a slit spectrograph. Once I have achieved the necessary skills and knowledge, I would like to participate in one of the many pro/am collaborations that are available to citizen scientists. I will also start participating in one or more of the Zooniverse projects.

The second prong of my two-pronged approach is to learn more about professional astronomers and their work. Why? I guess just because I want to. I don’t mean for my answer to flippant. I am just fascinated with the world of professional astronomy and I want to learn more about it. I follow many astronomers on Twitter (more about that in my next blog post) and I want to understand more about their work and their professional lives. How am I going to go about doing that? One approach will be meeting more of them. I’ll try to attend events aimed at undergraduates, graduates, post docs, professors, etc. Maybe I will do more interviews which are my favorite posts on Share Astronomy. My second approach for understanding the lives of professional astronomers will be to learn how to use some of the tools they use. For example, I am currently learning the Python computer language for scientific computing. Python is widely used in professional astronomy and my background is in information technology so it seems like an area where I can be successful.

As I move forward with a life focused more on astronomy and citizen science I will document my experiences in these blog posts. There will be successes and I’m sure there will be some failures but hopefully readers of these posts will learn along with me.

In my next blog post, I will talk about why Twitter is an amazing resource for anyone interested in astronomy.

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