Thursday, January 14, 2010

New classes, new teachers...(part II)

Aloha kākou!
I am back, after a busy two days. Monday night, after posting, I went up to the Visitor Center on Mauna Kea, a trip I don't regret, but one that did cut into my studying/sleeping time. I was to busy to post last night because of homework. I nearly didn't get the chance to post tonight for the same reason. When I decided to take 21 credits this semester, I did it for two reasons: 1) I need to get credits quickly in order to graduate in a decent amount of time, especially with what I'm going for, and 2) I know that if I have too much free time, I get lazy and slack off. So I aimed to prevent that by simply not having any free time, and it may work even better than I'd planned.... If I don't post for a couple of days, that's probably what happened.

 Monday night at the Vis was very nice. Despite the cold, there were a lot of people, and I got to point out and see many beautiful sights. I especially loved seeing the Great Nebula in Orion through the 14-inch scope we have up there. There's just something about seeing something through a telescope that pictures cannot capture. I've seen more pictures than I can count of the Orion Nebula, and it doesn't show up anywhere near as much detail in the eyepiece, but experiencing the photons from it hitting my eye after thousands of years' travel through interstellar space is indescribable. I wish I could take a picture of what I saw, but it's too faint for my camera to be able to pick it up by holding it to the eyepiece.

There are other objects in the night sky, however, that are brighter, one of them being the planet Mars, which I saw Monday night through the same telescope. I managed to catch a picture of it. It's a little hard to see, but on the left you can just make out one of the polar icecaps of Mars, and there's a suggestion of a darker marking on the lower right. They weren't much easier to see through the eyepiece, but I could make them out, so I know they are real markings.

Tuesday I attended the rest of my classes, and met my new professors.  I think they will work out all right. Since I didn't take a specific 'easy' class this semester, it will be interesting to see which class turns out to be the easiest. For my Introduction to Modern Physics class, I have to do an experiment at the end of class demonstrating some effect or principle of modern physics. Toxic and flammable are both out, which unfortunately also rules out the only one I had on the top of my head, but I have plenty of time to get one worked out. I just have to pick a partner now.

It's getting late, so I need to finish up here. I hope to give a fuller exposition of how my classes are going a little later on, when I've had the chance to observe them for a while. In the mean time, I have a little something for you to do. On the right side of this blog, I've added a little poll. The reason I'm asking what level of math you're comfortable with is so that if I feel like discussing things of a mathematical nature later on, I'll know how much I need to explain for you, my readers. But that will come later...
Aloha aumoe! (good night!)

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