I am, and will ever be, a white-socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer, born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace and propelled by compressible flow.
Second Half of 2012
I am happy to get a chance to write around here. It’s been since early February that I wrote something and then some scattered posts here and there. I mean, it definitely seems to me that all the science I posted here in the wee days of 2011 translated into the many different projects I am involved in. But let’s get into some talking.
First of all, as I expected, 2012 has been a year to look up. Things have clearly been arranging themselves so the problems that ended up in the disaster of 2010 will finally be solved. If not by the end of 2012 the very least I expect them done the first months of 2013. Of course, arranging themselves involved kicking my ass off to get shit done… but it is needed so I do not have a problem with it. Of course it is not easy to pause my studies for so long… but I’ve got no choice. Seeing my family being ok is as rewarding as finishing my degree. I am at peace with myself about it. And soon enough I’ll be back hitting them books.
In the other hand, the good news is that all the projects where I am involved are running. First of all I am writing on a regular basis for 3 different media.
My writing at ReconoceMX allows me to freely speak about new and old topics in astro engineering and astro science. That’s very nice because I can talk about old and new stuff anytime, it basically gives me an infinite topic pool which I appreciate.
Writing for Proyecto40 has been a great experience as well. I started writing for them 6 months ago and having the back up of the name of an important TV channel (at least in Mexico City) has pushed me to be published by two other smaller media. The digital version of the magazine Algarabia with my Daylight Savings Time in Mexico article that was also published in Proyecto40. As well as an invitation to collaborate in Los Aristócratas where I made a small article about Astrophysics.
Finally I started writing in La Ciudad Deportiva, a sports blog, in where I do a small article each other week about the physics in sports. I just started there a month ago but my first article there had so much interest that it got 30,000 hits in four days. That definitely made me proud.
Having all that popular media articles has pushed me to participate in a few events. I was able to be at top of the first astronomical observatory in Mexico for the -Transit of Venus- to complete its primary objective. It was an epic moment for me as well as for the historical place that did not had a telescope for the past 130 years.
I was also invited by the Mexican Astronomical Society to write an article for the relaunch of their magazine -The Universe- in where i wrote about newSpace companies and the future of Space Exploration. That was definitely one of the best moments ever because I was invited to write for a historical society in Mexico and because it was the first time I was published in print media.
What’s coming for the second half of 2012
The second half of 2012 keeps promising. For the time being I am enjoying my time in a new project called “Cencia140” in Twitter that basically does more Popular Science in one tweet. So far it’s been a big success with well over 1,000 followers in little more than a month.
I was invited, for a second consecutive year, to the National Reunion of Amateur Astronomers of Mexico that is celebrated in the Planetario Alfa in Monterrey. This was a great opportunity for me to get to be known outside Mexico City and being introduced to a completely different environment for me. This year my talk will be about Space Debris, how it’s made and how are we planning on taking care of the problem. A very promising and interesting topic for the next few decades.
As for my personal life, my girlfriend will have major surgery in less than a month and even though I am worried I am just expecting the best for her. She deserves to be ok, she is a very strong woman but she needs to be able to go along with her life without that back pain that limits her much. And I’ll be there supporting and helping her through her difficulties. If all goes right, we might be having winter vacations in Costa Rica for which I am truly excited.
So, that’s my little personal review for 2012. I think it has been a great year and I am looking forward for the second half of this year that is very very promising.
Thank you all for reading.
The Transit of Venus, 2012. Mexico City.
Like many others around the world, this past tuesday, I had the chance to witness the transit of Venus. I missed the 2004 transit so I couldn’t miss this once in a lifetime event. And so, as I was preparing to watch the event from my place or maybe go to one of the public events in the city, I had an invitation I could not refuse.
I was invited to go to our 1st National Astronomical Observatory, that was open only for five years and is currently located in the National Museum of History, Chapultepec Castle. The building is always closed to public, as it served no purpose other than being an observation tower when the Castle changed from residency to military base and later to museum. Currently only the watch guards that do flag change are allowed to go up to that historic place.
The NAO was installed in the observation tower of Chapultepec’s Castle in 1877 and was intended to be there for a few years until the building in Tacubaya, the 2nd NAO, was ready to receive only astronomers and be a single purpose building. The main objective of the 1st National Observatory was to refine calculations of the distance from Earth to the Sun using the transit of Venus. Mexican astronomers had momentum from the toV in 1874 when their expedition to Yokohama, Japan lead by engineer Covarrubias was extremely successful and was the first expedition to give results to other astronomers around the world.
130 years ago, during the transit of Venus of 1882, our very own first professional astronomers with brand new equipment were at top of the observation tower, in the national observatory, waiting to watch the transit with big expectations from the political class. Unfortunately, the day was cloudy and they were unable to watch a single moment of clarity that day. That pushed the astronomers out of the Castle faster than originally expected.
So, this tuesday, invited by one of the leading astrophotographers in Mexico (that was invited by the Institute of Astronomy from UNAM) we were again in that old vantage point that was used by our very own first astronomers. There we would be away from the general public that would be in the lower levels of the castle and we would be repeating what engineer Angiano (1st Director of the NAO) was doing 130 years ago.
The day started bringing equipment at top of the tower, for the first time in over a century there was astronomical equipment there. The next step was obviously to set the equipment up and do some tests. We had about 5 hours to go, so we were just waiting.
To add a bit of stress, the day got cloudy about 2 pm and it begun raining over us (with our vantage point we realized that it was raining south of the city earlier than that) and it lasted well until 3:30 pm. It looked like the day was about to clear up but even more clouds formed at top of our spot. Things looked like history would repeat itself. By 5:04 the clouds were so thick we couldn’t even see the sun through. The people with us were not very positive about it.
In the public display area there were three major conferences where public learned a bit about the transit of Venus and general astronomy. Also, there were all the national media waiting to get feed from other observatories in Mexico, as well as our feed from top of the castle. It did not happen. So people were a bit unhappy, or so I heard since I did not went down the tower at all, I didn’t want to miss my sweet spot.
FINALLY about an hour before sunset the skies cleared up and we started recording bits of the transit, a bit too cloudy but we were having some good opportunities. It was all good news and excitation from all the people at top. A few employees and their families, a film crew for small clips and us, less than 20 people at top of the 1st National Astronomical Observatory.
Maybe we won’t go in history remembered as an expedition that was able to complete the primary purpose of a building that was lost in history, but I can tell you I won’t forget the fact that I was invited to complete a milestone of that building and that now it has served its primary purpose efficiently.
This is definitely an experience I will never forget.
The brightest star in the constellation Leo is Regulus, and it is also one of the brightest stars in the night sky, with only 21 stars brighter. Regulus is strictly speaking a star sysas tem, composed of Regulus A, the source of its brightness and a white dwarf companion that has not yet been observed, and to other stars too dim to be easily visible. Also known as Alpha Leonis for its primary position in the constellation, the name Regulus means ‘little king’ or ‘kinglet’ and also occasionally prince. Regulus derives from the Latin word rex, regis, taking the diminutive form.
Regulus A is a large, hot star, about 4 times as wide as our sun but much brighter and with over 1000 times the energy output. Regulus A is also spinning about 1000 times faster on its axis and shooting through space like a bullet! Scientists are unclear what the source of this energy and movement is.
Image of the constellation Leo from Wikimedia commons, in the public domain.
Constellation map by Torsten Bronger, used with permission under Creative Commons 3.0 license.
Computer generated image of Regulus A by Chandra, used with permission.