It’s a Gong Xi Fa Cai Eclipse

The Anyer Lighthouse 1885
The Anyer Lighthouse 1885

On 26th of January 2009, there’s an eclipse occured in Indonesian, and on the same time that day celebrated as the Chinese New Year, so it was a Gong Xi Fa Cai (恭喜發財) eclipse. For those who celebrate the new year, happy new year! Hope this year will bring prosperity to you. For many chinese that i know, usually they hope for rain on the new year, the more the rain, the more prosper they will, but i think many chinese in Indonesia had made an exception on that day, because there was an eclipse around.

RoPACS: Rocky Planets Around Cool Stars

RoPACS, one of the big collaborations I am involved, is a European network which has the goal of training PhD students in the field of the exoplanet search and characterization (by the way, we are opening 11 positions in several countries across Europe). The network is being coordinated by David Pinfield, from the Hertfordshire University. In order to achieve this aim, we are exploiting the WFCAM Transit survey, an ambitious project which has been granted several hundred nights at the UKIRT telescope over the next few years. We are monitoring a significant amount of M dwarfs in the near infrared, trying to detect subtle changes in their light curves which might be induced by the presence of planets. Since M dwarfs emit most of their energy at those wavelengths, and since relative size between the fiducial planet and the host star is larger (ie, the deeps in the light curves are more relevant), we do believe this is the best strategy to detect a rocky planet: am Earth-like body orbiting around other star.

During the last two days, I have organized the “kick-off meeting” at the “Centro de Astrobiología“, a face-to-face lively discussion where we have been able to clarify several issues and define the best startegy for the future. It has been a little bit exhausting (hotel booking, transportation, etc), but the effort has been worth it and I hope we will have interesting results soon enough.

Heavenly music

The year 2009 is also for the community of astronomers from Mexico, Spain and Florida, since the Gran Telescopio Canarias, the GTC, will start its scientific operations in few weeks. Meanwhile, famous musicians visit the place and think about new possibilities. This is the case of Jean Michael Jarren and Brian May.

Cultural Heritage of Astronomical Obervatories, IAU Symposium 260

The next talk at the session on astronomical heritage is by Professor Gudrun Wolfschmidt, Germany, Cultural Heritage of Astronomical Observatories. This subject is relates to my local astronomical observatory inManchester which celebrated its centenary in 2003 (the Godlee Observatory). Towards the modern architecture of observatories – ensemble in a park change of the instrumentation Astronomical