Astronomy, The Final (First?) Frontier…

Hello fellow fellow astrogeeks,

Now, you may be wondering “ermm, who are you again?”, which is completely understandable since I have just basically disappeared completely from my own blog page. Well, I now want to change that now I have more free time, yes you heard me correctly, I now have more free time!

So, ermm, what have you been up to these past 8/9 months or so, backpacking?

Sadly no, nothing anywhere near quite as exciting or fanciful as that, although I’ve been doing something far more interesting. “What’s that?”, I hear you cry, well it’s me being busy finishing my undergraduate degree with the Open University, with my last module, SM358-The Quantum World, completed in early June my OU journey (at undergraduate level at least) is now at an end. So now all I have to do is wait for my final module result so I can obtain my degree and its classification, so fingers crossed for the oncoming results this late July. However, I also obtained results from modules I completed last year in September/October and I luckily got fairly okay passes in those with one being for my project/dissertation with the conspicuous and rather convoluted title, ‘Highly Collimated Molecular Outflows Emanating from YSOs: Their Components and the Underlying Driving Wind’. If you’re interested in reading my project/dissertation/literary review, then please feel free to read it below. Be warned, it’s not a work of art nor by any means comprehensive, but hopefully the science will be to your liking as I found it rather exciting, especially the interdisciplinary mix of Astronomy, Physics and Chemistry in there.

Project is down here:


Project is up there:

That’s great, but what’s next, going off to finally get yourself a ‘proper job’?

In all honesty what exactly is a, ‘proper job’, in my opinion there is no such thing so go off and do whatever makes you feel happy and fulfilled, even if that’s sweeping the roads. Anyway, without going too far off topic there, I’ll be venturing off to Milton Keynes to study Full-Time at the OU, so in reality my OU journey hasn’t actually come to an end, as the famous saying goes ” as another door closes, another one opens”, regardless on who or what is metaphorically closing the door this is true generally in life.

Oh dear, Astronomy again?

Yes, it’s Astronomy (hardly going to be Psychology now was it ;-)) and my first step into postgraduate life will be studying for a research degree, an MPhil to be precise, and I’ve even been given the nifty thesis title of: ‘Data Mining for Extragalatic AstroChemistry’. No beating about the bush here, I’m literally ‘mining’ data, most likely from the Japanese AKARI telescope; a charming space-based Telescope analysing pretty much the entire infrared range. Another factor is that the satellite was decommissioned in late 2011 due to electrical failure, and we still have tonnes of data most likely untouched, so this is where slavery comes in… I’m joking of course, It’s a thrilling time to be involved in all areas of Astronomy, lets hope lack of resources won’t halt progress!

Anyway, that’s it for my ramblings today, I’ll be blogging away on as many things as I can… I might add a little section on postgrad study if people want that sort of thing? Let me know in the poll below.

Take care astrogeeks

Yours, The ObAstro

Conducting Astronomical Research at a Distance

Hello again fellow astrogeeks,

Just thought I’d give a quick and brief insight into the wonderful world of conducting research, there are many different ways to conduct said research and they all are meaningful, especially in the realms of science, so lets take look.

The review of the review on the guide to reviewing literature

Firstly, I’m going to discuss the type of research I’m currently doing at a distance (from the University), considering it’s in the title, and this is what’s called a ‘Literary Review’; A literal collection of literature in a specified area/topic that has been scrutinised and analysed to help collate and gain cohesion of what’s been learned/discovered/studied up to the time of writing. This may seem like gobbledygook, but it is quintessentially the research of many academic papers on a small area within a subject, upon which you perform your own scientific conclusion on them. This sort of research is great for bringing together sparsely laid out material, and unifies research together, it also makes it easier to find references for future readers wanting to understand and/or improve on the existing research, often offering suggestions of ways to improve the advancement and progression in the field, these could be merely trivial suggestions but are still valid and may highlight oversights (e.g. the cataloguing of astronomical objects into a specific classification might be inconsistent and an inefficient way for classifying said object for being too clumsy or ambiguous).

This method is definitely the simplest as it does not involve any practical research, however as I said, it’s still valid and every scientific dissertation will need a literature review :-).


Of course, the obvious research of actually testing/observing things doing things (to put it in a general context), and definitely something I’d prefer to do, to try and understand and interpret your data is something of a real challenge, especially for astronomers considering we cannot resolve distant objects and can only measure their characteristic changes in luminosity/brightness. When it comes to University assessment you usually have a literary review of your chosen title/topic and then you carry out a similar method to previous authors with an on-looking supervisor, collecting the data then messing about with the results, performing some form of error analysis, but then comes the tricky part of putting it together into a dissertation. At University you’ll most likely have to also defend your work via a viva voce (latin for ‘with living voice’), so essentially an oral exam on what you’ve written and presented and this can be easy if you know and understand what you had written in your dissertation and said during the presentation of your work, lots of questions are usually asked on what you mean on certain bits and pieces, and the only advice is to answer them in confidence adequately.

Theoretical Wotsits

This is exactly the same as the previous one, however a lot more difficult as it requires a lot of ‘thinking’ about abstract ideas and concepts, usually these are the modellers that the experimenters hope to fit their data to. This is assessed and conducted in the same way, and not much more needs to be said on this.

Are You Rambling?

Quite possibly, but the point I’m making here as well is that I shall be performing some mini literary reviews on the papers of interest to myself; being a star guy these will mostly be on stellar formation and their populations. As you no doubt noticed, every one of these approaches to researching something requires a literary review, whether it be to help outline the area you’re about to test/experiment/model or to just assess and reduce convolution amongst the research area/topic. These won’t be academically vigorous, they’ll be basic and I’ll attempt to simplify the Science that’s being stated, not only for your benefit but to also aid my communication skills :-).

So, I hope to be seeing you all soon with some hopefully inspiring stuff.

Take care astrogeeks,

The ObsAstro