Summer update: .Astronomy, kittens, Mars and superwomen

It’s mid-August and in recent months lots of milestones were passed here in Heidelberg: .Astronomy was a big success, I gave a talk at the super fun and interesting Galactic Star Formation conference here in Heidelberg (my slides are here), and I successfully managed to take my first 2-week holiday in some years.

I wandered round for a few days, feeling lost like a mother cat without her kittens (for kittens, read: laptop, astro-ph, infrared bubbles etc) – luckily I found some bona fide replacement kittens living behind the garden shed, and with that relaxation was achieved, a tan procured.

So back to work it is, and here’s a bit of a recap on what’s been happening…..

  • We’ve revamped our .Astronomy web presence with an attractive new site – excellent work from Rob on that. It contains little snippets and links on the hacks that were produced at the conference, and links to the great talks we heard. Stuart did an awesome jon on creating a nifty Javascript-based tool that syncs up the slides of the talks with the audio, tweets and other content, such as links. Thanks to him, you can now relive some of our keynote talks on the site.
  • Rob wrote a nice post on the hack we worked on at .Astro together with Karen Masters – I should say that I stole the idea from Brad Voytek, passed it on to Rob and Karen, who did all the hard work [NB. I think Hogg would approve of this hack-management approach].  Alasdair Allan then picked it up and wrote some nice words on O’Reilly Radar. Basically we wanted to examine trends in the astronomy literature by mining ADS; the idea is that the ability to do this will then allow a more sophisticated analysis to uncover hidden relations between concepts. I’m incredibly impressed with Rob’s efforts.
  •  NASA landed a very cool rover called Curiosity on the surface of Mars. It was lowered onto Mars with a crane! It has nuclear fuel! It zaps rocks with a laser! Mars looks just like Arizona! OK, you probably know all about this already.
  •  The Guardian posted a few good articles on life in academia that struck a note with me:  (1) The superwoman fallacy: what it really takes to be an academic and parent by Melissa Terras at UCL, and (2) The two body problem: trials and tribulations of a trailing spouse by writer Simon Perks. Notes were struck because (1) I’ve been working incredibly hard and my mind is suffering a little for it; and (2) oh joy, job season is a’knockin’ once again.

September always comes along with a flurry of meetings, telecons, trips and deadlines, so for the next week or 2 I’m enjoying the remainder of the summer quiet, while it lasts.


  1. Some kitten pictures, please!

    and: You have learned well, Grasshopper.

  2. Update: by popular demand, kittens!


  3. Fabio Noviello says:

    The Kittens are the best part of this post ! :-)

  4. Thanks Fabio. Glad you enjoyed my lovingly crafted blog post.

  5. aaaah