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Alex "Sandy" AntunesRSS Feed of this column.

Read more about the strange modern world of a day laborer in astronomy, plus extra space science-y goodness.... Read More »

A doctor's office in nearby Virginia, just one state down from me, got clobbered by a 'mango-sized' meteorite this week.  Where others see disaster, I see envy. My envy.  My favorite writeup is from The Register, because they have wit and write everything like a TV soap:

Nobody was hurt in the meteor strike, and the pieces of interplanetary debris were subsequently identified as being extraterrestrial by a geologist, fortuitously married to the doctors' receptionist.
Dr Linda Welzenbach of the Smithsonian - evidently a woman with an encyclopaedic knowledge of asteroid strikes in America - immediately
You can (and should) listen to my first ever podcast, at "365 Days of Astronomy", which is either about a) why we put telescopes on mountains and in space or b) why science in Antarctica rocks!  From the 365DOA site:
Ever wonder why astronomers loft telescopes higher and higher, to mountains and via balloons and satellites? Astrophysicist Sandy Antunes explains, and in the process gets an accidental lesson from a Linda Banish, a rock-climbing colleague, on why Antarctica is the best place in the world for science.
Where are we?  Cosmically, I mean.  We have barely made steps to get to the edge of our solar system, via Voyager 1 and 2.  It's ironic that we can see back 13 billion years using telescopes, but we have little idea of what 'stuff' is out there-- matter, dark matter, energy.  Or even what is just outside our local solar system.
Connecting my earlier post on PhD job realities and Melissa's blog post on Entitlement Culture is today's Ph.D comic (by Jorge Cham):

Alex, the Daytime Astronomer
I just posted a tweet storm from this week's 215th AAS Conference.  The specific session was a workshop on "Astronomy Employment: Past and Future".  The panelists were Beryl Benderly (Science Careers journalist), Rachel Ivie (AIP), Jim Ulvestad (NRAO), and Steve Beckwith (Univ. of CA), and their opinions were both frank and highly welcome at dispelling illusions about the ivory tower of academia.

This is the cold, hard reality of professional astronomy, presented from the inside.  Here are the quotes and tweets from the workshop.

"More people are beign qualified as scientists than can be employed" (B. Benderly) #aas215
What are the best new astronomy books?  I just got asked this question, and thought I'd hit up all you Bloggies for your opinions.  I'll also make sure to check with publishers at the ongoing 215th AAS Meeting to get their recommendations, and post updates as they arrive.

My recommendations so far would be:

1) Laika, by Nick Abadzis (2007)