So I’ll be in Texas… AND in Chile!

After telling everyone I’d be at the media/music/explosion that is South by SouthWest (SXSW) for several days, I got this phone call today asking if I’d like to be in Chile that week for the inauguration of the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, or ALMA. So even though my brain was yelling YES, I sadly declined since I had other responsibilities. I was promptly chastised by my boss, Pamela, who then yelled YES along with my brain and said GO TO CHILE.

So, I’m going to Texas. For two days. AND THEN I’m going to Chile. And I am so freaking excited like you have no idea.

It is news to no one that I love radio astronomy and radio telescopes. I love them so so much that one powerful little array in West Virginia and South Africa was the focus of my dissertation work. Ever since my internships as an undergraduate, first at MIT Haystack and then at the Very Large Array in New Mexico, I was fascinated with the completely unintuitive way that radio telescopes can be used to study the universe. Also, to see and visit those monstrous dishes, to walk around in them in some cases, to see the wires and receivers and literal nuts and bolts that make them work… is an amazing experience.

Don't mind us, just chilling in the dish. Socorro Summer Students of 2004!

Don’t mind us, just chilling in the dish. Socorro Summer Students of 2004!

So Pamela was right to yell at me. How could I pass up a chance to visit the mountain vistas of the Atacama Desert and the world’s most advanced millimeter telescope perched high above the world at 16,500 feet? I’ll be one of a dozen or so members of the press along with National Radio Astronomy Observatory staff and various dignitaries from every organization involved. It’ll all be tweeted and Google Plussed as internet is available, blogged for Discovery News Space, and videoed and recorded for your viewing and listening pleasure later through our various CosmoQuest feeds.

Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) and C. Padilla

Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) and C. Padilla

So thanks to John Stoke and everyone at NRAO for this amazing opportunity. Everyone else, please join in for the ride, March 10-14th!

Also be sure to say hi to me on March 8th at the big NASA tent at SXSW if you are going to be in Austin. Scott, Pamela, Fraser, and the rest of the NASA extravaganza will be there all weekend! One of us will be sure to blog abut that on CosmoQuest when it gets closer.

16 comments for “So I’ll be in Texas… AND in Chile!

  1. bernie
    February 13, 2013 at 00:41

    Hello Nicole,
    Love your blog and you on VSP!

    Since your a radio astronomer, I was wondering if you could give me advice on graduate programs in astronomy. I’m also interested in astronomy and I would like to get a graduate degree in astronomy. Are there any astronomy programs that one could attend part-time or at night? I work by day as an electrical engineer, so it’s important that I keep my day job.

    regards and have fun in Chile!

    • Nicole
      February 19, 2013 at 13:12

      Hi! I don’t know as much about part-time programs. I do know that Ray Sanders of Dear Astronomer has been finishing his undergrad degree and applying for grad schools in astronomy while working and would recommend you ask him for specific advice on that. Aside, my dissertation advisor is an electrical engineer, as there is a lot of crossover in radio astronomy!

  2. February 13, 2013 at 00:54

    Hi Nicole. You said no? Glad your boss had better ideas! Is that Erin M beside you on the dish? We spoke the day of her birthday a couple of days ago. Enjoy Chile and ALMA. If R.B. is there, please say hello.

    • Nicole
      February 19, 2013 at 13:10

      Will do! Also I owe you a reply re: ionosphere poster but I’ve gotten WAY behind on that work. Still will do, though 🙂

  3. February 13, 2013 at 07:46

    What an amazing opportunity. Congratulations.

  4. Dr. Fisher
    February 14, 2013 at 13:24

    This is way cool. Have a safe trip, and a great experience!!!

  5. Kate
    February 23, 2013 at 11:20

    Such an amazing experience! I lost my astronomy buddy at work when he moved to Texas and now everyone looks at me like I’m speaking a totally alien language. So it’s wonderful to have found someone interested in knitting AND the miraculous heavens.

  6. Gail
    February 23, 2013 at 12:13

    Pamela was 110% correct, and had you told me about it, I would have said the same thing except I’d also have smacked you in the head :P. So jealous! Congrats and I can’t wait to hear about it!

    • Nicole
      February 24, 2013 at 12:03

      LOL. I miss you, headsmacks and all.

  7. Erin M
    March 6, 2013 at 23:03

    Get thee arse to Chile, woman! Pack, pack, pack! And don’t pay to go over the 50 pounds– it’s just a bunch of engineers you’re trying to impress, after all 😉 Can’t wait to hear your stories and read your blog posts and give you an elevated hug/spin when you visit in Charlottesville 🙂 And if you need a place to stay for that trip, let me know!

    • Nicole
      March 6, 2013 at 23:34

      LOL! Actually the Chilean president and various other dignitaries will be there… but it’s true, I’m not there to impress anyone, just take LOTS of pictures and blog all the coolness! It’s kind of weird after all the years of “blah blah blah ALMA” I’m actually going to SEE the damn thing.

      OMG yes hug and spin would be lovely. I’ll be back in May for graduation! May take up your offer to crash if I come early. (Have hotel booked for me and mom and Tim for the actual ceremony weekend.) The new Star Trek movie premieres that weekend and I’d love to see it in CVille with all the geeks, so if I can take off early I will 🙂

      • March 7, 2013 at 00:10

        ‘And if you need a place to stay…’ me too (said in a little squeaky voice)!

        • Nicole
          March 7, 2013 at 00:14


          • March 7, 2013 at 00:18

            Don’t think that I’ve ever been to a slumber party, which makes two of us, me and Amy Farrah Fowler 😮

        • Erin M
          March 7, 2013 at 01:36

          David, if you ever come to the US and don’t let me host you I’ll be very upset! I think my work will be cut out for me after the magnificent hosting you did for me in AU… btw, I have every episode ever made of BBT on DVD, and Amy is my imaginary bestie 🙂

  8. March 25, 2013 at 20:21

    Ahhh, your so lucky, I would love a chance to head out into the Atacama and visit the Telescopes 🙁 One day, I shall go 😀

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