One of my readers (via Facebook) said he loved my blog but still had no idea what I did. Good point. While most career scientists hyperspecialize, I've moved among multiple fields of astronomy, often confusing myself in the process.
Currently, I create computer simulations of the sun to understand and enable prediction of the brief but potent solar eruptions that can kill cellphones, GPS and airline pilots. For those in the field, I say I study coronal mass ejections (CMEs) using data from the NASA STEREO satellites.
I prefer work in space weather-- how the sun influences the Earth-- over that of pure solar physics (study of the sun). I like the tangible. When I studied galaxy collisions for my Ph.D, I loved the science, but it's frustrating to make predictions that conclude, in the end, a result for 100 million years from now. With space weather, you can make predictions that are verifiable within days-- and that have immediate real world implications. That's very appealing.
If this was a coy science dating website, I'd add that I prefer collaboration over solo study. I don't fear the word 'management' and thus occasionally take up the leadership mantle.
Prior to now (solar) and my Ph.D. (galaxies), I studied X-ray emission from sun-like stars (high-energy stellar astrophysics), while working in NASA science operations first in Japan, then in the US, for a bevy of satellites (ASCA, XTE, ASTRO-E/Suzaku, a little SWIFT).
At a party, I call myself everything from an astronomer, astrophysicist, solar physicist, modeler, programmer, small team lead, scientist, researcher, writer, parent, or game designer. Depends on who I want to impress-- or not scare away.
This blog will hop around in time because, with all that work and fluid identity, I've always been a Daytime Astronomer. That's just how astronomy is done in modern times.
Life as a Daytime Astronomer: Being a Generalist
By Alex "Sandy" Antunes | February 12th 2009 03:03 AM | Print | E-mail