By Patricia Daukantas
Greetings! Since OSA headquarters will be closed next week for the holidays, this will most likely be the last OPN blog post in 2009.
It’s been quite a year for this blog, with coverage of OSA’s three major conferences: OFC/NFOEC (thanks to C. David Chaffee of FiberToday.com), CLEO/IQEC and FiO/LS. The International Year of Astronomy (IYA) provided the inspiration for several blog posts related to sky observing and light pollution. And we tried to bring you some breaking news from the world of optics and photonics, plus a few items from the “lighter side.”
Readers of this blog and my OPN articles are probably aware that I have a soft spot for amateur astronomers who participate in scientific research. (See “The Professional World of Amateur Astronomy” in the March 2009 issue of OPN.)
Just last week a team of astronomers announced the discovery of a “super-Earth,” only about 6.5 times as massive as our planet, orbiting a dim red star some 40 light-years from Earth. Although those discoverers are all professionals and grad students, they used a network of commodity 16-inch telescopes and CCD cameras that are well within the reach of amateur stargazers.
Interested in pursuing a similar project? Take a look at the original Nature article or the review by the well-known planet-hunter Geoffrey Marcy of the University of California at Berkeley (U.S.A.).
Now on to 2010: who knows what the future will bring? The IYA is coming to an end, with closing ceremonies scheduled for next month in the Italian town where Galileo taught physics, and a legacy program called Beyond 2009 will continue to raise public awareness of astronomy.
Meanwhile, LaserFest 2010 will start in January with events in every month – check the Web site for details.
Happy New Year to all OSA members and their families and friends!