Friday, November 28, 2008

The Only Way To Observe

I don't know about other astronomers, but when I'm up at 14,000 feet observing for 10-12 hours straight, the only thing that I want more than oxygen is cigarette smoke! And who wears a tie to the observatory?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quick Post

Marcus continues his impossible rate of growth, here pictured with his outfit from Auntie's Liz and Lindsay, which they purchased during their recent trip to France. Pretty swank, eh? Marcus is all, merci!

Also, here's a video of Owen giving his little brother some "juicy kisses." At our dinner table, no shoes, no shirt? No problem.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


at long last i captured the latest moves. you'll note that marcus (AKA mar-mar, masher, or mj) has become quite a chatterbox lately and produces copious amounts of drool. we probably change outifits 4 times a day as a result!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


brace yourself for some cuteness....

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Historical Day: Pictures of Planets

As you may have seen in the news, two explanet research teams have taken the first pictures of planets orbiting other stars. The astronomy community is buzzin' right now--this is absolutely huge! Up until now, we've only sensed the presence of planets by detecting their gravitational influence on their parent stars, or seeing the planet eclipse its star as viewed from Earth. The difficulty with taking pictures of planets is that the little guys are so much fainter than their host stars. It's analogous to seeing someone hold a candle next to a light house in viewed from California!

Now we actually have portraits of two exoplanetary systems: Fomalhaut b, and HR8799 b, c and d. My former Berkeley classmate, Mike Fitzgerald, is 3rd author on the Fomalhaut b paper. Nice work Mike!

In the picture above, you can see the Fomalhaut planet orbiting just inside of a massive "debris disk" that is a lot like our solar system's Kuiper belt (where Pluto lives). The star is blotted out by a shield-like object mounted on the telescope kinda like the Sun visor on your car, which makes the whole thing look like the Eye of Sauron, huh?

There's something very powerful about actually seeing planets sitting there next to some of our stellar neighbors. What's especially cool, at least from my perspective, is that these new planets orbit stars more massive than our Sun. Known as "A-type stars" or "A dwarfs," Fomalhaut and HR8799 are about twice as hefty as our star. My own research has shown that stars more massive than the Sun are twice as likely stars to have planets. Mass matters when it comes to planets. It's nice confirmation to see--actually see--the first imaged planets around such massive stars! Here's an excellent writeup by Greg Laughlin over at You can follow the links he posted to see more cool pictures.

So remember where you were when astronomers announced the first pictures of planets outside of the solar system!

Update: Check out another good post here at the Bad Astromomy blog.
Update 2: NPR Science Friday Podcast here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

when i grow up....

today owen informed me that emily elizabeth, co-star of clifford stories, wants to be a doctor when she grows up. i asked, "what would you like to be when you grow up?". owen said, "president". i have to say that this is quite a step up from his last declaration that he plans to drive the big green garbage truck!

in other news, marcus has is growing like a champ. he's rolling over pretty consistently (from tummy to back) and has really strong neck control when he's held upright. he's starting to giggle and loves to see and talk to his big brother, especially in the morning. owen often finds marcus chillin' in his swing when i'm getting my coffee ready in the morning. he's taken to doing voice-overs in what he imagines marcus' voice to be. this seems to be the 6:35 AM script in our household:

"good morning marcus!"
"hi owen!" (in teeny-tiny high pitch)
"guess who's awake, it's owen!"
"i didn't pee-pee all night long!"
"oh reeeeeely? that's great"
"mommy, may i have some sweet cheerios with milk and cranberries?"

video of marcus rolling over to come.... stay tuned!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Erin just finished dinner and my dad called to say that VA went to Obama. While we were on the phone, CNN called it for Obama. The long night is over. We can see the sun rising, even though it's 6 in the evening. Owen chants "Obama, Obama, Obama!" MSNBC live online is showing Chigago's south side going nuts. I'm crying. BLTs and tomato soup for dinner. Unbelievable. We have a black president. I honestly didn't think it would ever happen.

Fireworks in Honolulu!

I can't believe it.

President Obama!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Surf's up!

COWABUNGA!!!! woah. i just had my first ever surf lesson in waikiki and am still reeling from it! the waves weren't that big (although to this novice, a 3 ft. wave felt gigantic!), but the 12 ft board i surfed on made it possible to catch anything. here's some photos from the big event!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Owen at school on Halloween Eve

From left: Kai'poi (yellow mask on the floor), Weston (Maverick), Kalena, Kaila, Ms. Fake, Nicolas, Olivia, Kanani, Owen, and Juaquin.

Marcus and Owen

Here's a video of Owen watching one of his favorite DVDs, Corduroy, and Erin trying to convince Marcus that he's tired (sorry about the low light levels). Marcus disagreed, and instead only smiled and babbled in response.

A few minutes later:

Mommy's always right!

Trick or Treat!

Last year we spent Halloween at Kahala Mall because of the rain. This year the weather cooperated and we made use of inside information regarding the trick-o-treating hot-spot that is the Faculty Housing complex, right near the IfA. Erin brought the boys over after work, and we met up with Marsha, Adam (my new office mate) and Scarlett. After dinner at the nearby noodle house, we set off on our adventure.

"Giddy-up horsey, yeeee haw!"

Whoa, horsey!

Owen went about his trick-or-treating like it was a job. He had his spiel down pat. A "trick or treat!" when we arrived at a new house, followed by a "Thank you!" and a "Happy Halloween!" when he got his candy. He was ON!

Just like last year, it was the Owen and Scarlett show :)

Mommy carved a jack-o-lantern to Owen's specifications: Square eyes, a square nose and two square teeth (one tooth broke off).