Saturday, 21 May 2011

I'll be on a plane during the Rapture

Sorry for the lack of updates on this blog. Two months ago today I dug a grave and buried one of my best friends. She never said anything very intellectual to me, and she had four legs and was tortoiseshell, but it's astonishing how huge her personality was, how complex and important such a friendship can become. Here she is, my beloved Cassie, who had a horrific paralysing spinal injury - we know not how. She was only two years old.

She died only just before I was due to give my first Skeptics in the Pub talk. Thank goodness, Hayley stepped in. I've thought of writing about Cassie here, but I still don't think I can bear it - besides that not being the most interesting of blog posts. Anyway, since then, I've been busy with work and so on but more to the point just haven't felt like writing.

Now, things are getting more interesting - and it's a good moment to get back into writing again. Tomorrow night I get on a train and damn well hope it doesn't get delayed, because if it does, I'll miss my overnight coach to the airport and then will be in trouble! I'm going to Boston, Massachusetts - for the 218th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. I've kept very quiet about this because I barely dared believe it was happening, but I haven't received any last minute "oh by the way, sorry, you can't come" sort of messages - thank you so much to Chris and Galaxy Zoo for inviting me along! I'll be doing some Zoo/SDSS work in exchange, and if it's interesting - which I bet it will be - I will blog about it.

I'm going to be extending my stay in the States by a couple of weeks as I'm doing some research there - I'll blog about that too if it's successful, but not yet. It's in the preliminary stages at the moment, so I'm going to be annoyingly mysterious for the time being.

I believe you'll be able to follow tweets with the hashtag #aas218 if you want to keep an eye on what's happening. We'll be hearing quite a lot about Chandra and Kepler, and a great many other things astronomical, and the Henry Norris Russell Prize Lecture will be given by Margaret Geller - this is only the fourth time a female astronomer has won this and I do hope I'll be able to attend it.

As for the Rapture - the boredom with waiting for 2012 I guess - well, if it happens, at least I will get an excellent view of everything going on from the plane. If they let me pick a seat by the window, anyway.

(PS If you get the Society for Popular Astronomy magazine you'll find an article in the May/June Young Stargazers by me about the Big Bang. I hope you like it!)