Monday, August 22, 2016

The Observatory Blues

HD189733, a star with a particularly deep transit, as seen by the York Observatory 60 cm telescope. Giang, who joined us in May from McGill University, is obtaining a dataset for our Planets and Planetary Systems (PHYS 3070) students to use in class this fall.

By Tue Giang Nguyen

In preparation for the upcoming term, I was tasked with observing a transit of an exoplanet across a star in the constellation Vulpecula, known as the “little fox”. This is not my first time observing a transit and I cannot help but think that this would not be my last. Accompanied by Jake, a warm-hearted space enthusiast, we set out to take a series of images of what seems to be a tiny sliver of the vast darkened sky.

Forecasts leading up to the transit had not been promising; the hot humid air created a risk of thunderstorm. With the transit expected to last for two hours, the fear of poor visibility occurring during the transit loomed over my mind. My previous attempt at observing this particular transit had been foiled by rolling clouds high above. Whether it be frustration or sorrow, I can relate to the feeling of being inhibited by forces beyond our control, especially on the subject of astronomical observation.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Mock Defense in the Lab

 Images of Clouds from the surface of Mars - the basis of Jake's MSc work! To see a second example, look under the cut below...

By Jake Kloos

As the summer winds down and the new academic year approaches, the feeling for me is bittersweet. On one hand, I am only one month away from completing my MSc degree. On the other, however, I have the notorious oral examination still ahead of me. This is a friendly (or so I’m told) interrogation of sorts in which 3 examiners will closely scrutinize the work that I have put forth, probing me with questions and clarifications for a mere 2-3 hours. It sounds daunting, and having heard my fair share of horror stories as an undergraduate, I am approaching it with slight trepidation. Whatever the outcome, however, it will almost certainly be a useful experience, and one that I will remember as I move forward in my professional career. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

So You Think You Can Research: Undergraduate Conference Posters 101

This post is contributed by Brittney Cooper and Rachel Modestino, two of our summer undergraduates working under the LURA and RAY programs here at York. Part of their summer research experience is to present their work at our in-house conference to take place next week in the Bergeron Center (above)!

By Brittney Cooper and Rachel Modestino

So You Think You Can Research?

For two undergraduates working within the lab, the answer to that question is a firm “yes”, or at least “we’re trying”.

Next week the Lassonde School of Engineering is hosting York’s first-ever undergraduate research conference, and it will include work from students participating in summer research not only within Lassonde, but also the faculties of Science, Health and the Schulich School of Business.

It’s going to be a one-day event with over 60 presenters giving talks and showing posters to judges, peers, and faculty alike.

With just under a week to go, the mad-dash to not only begin, but also complete our posters is underway. For one of us, this will be her first poster, and for the other it will be her third. We thought it’d be interesting to see how our thoughts on the matter differed (if at all), leading up to the event.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Welcome to the Lab!

 A group photo of our laboratory in the Petrie Building, York University Keele Campus.

Hello and welcome to the blog of the Planetary Volatiles Laboratory (PVL) at York University!

We are a group of students from Undergraduates to PhD candidates who conduct research on the robotic exploration of our solar system and beyond, focusing on those elements of a planet that can evaporate and re-condense (in Planetary Science Terms: 'Volatile' as opposed to 'Refractory'). We've also got a couple of postdoctoral fellows helping to lead the way along with Professor John E Moores. The lab is based out of the Lassonde School of Engineering, though we also have students who take part in the Faculty of Science's Physics and Astronomy Program.

In this space, you will see weekly postings about what we're up to and items of significance for our work, such as conferences and papers of significance (including our own). The authors will change week to week, hence why we will sign our posts (as I have done below).

The goal of all this? There are two aims:

Publicity for the lab is part of it. Certainly it would be helpful for future students to get a better idea of what we do. It is also a handy place for us to break-down our own papers to bring them to a larger audience.

But, in my estimation, the more important side effect of this space will be to improve the writing skills of our existing students. Furthermore, by writing for a broader audience they will think about their knowledge base in a new way, providing synthesis and thereby helping each member to understand their field even better. Last, but not least, we hope to instill in each other the idea of service: our work is publicly funded and part of the job is sharing the results of that work and our excitement for the field with you!

I will be cheering on each and every one of them, and I hope you will be as well.

-John M.

P.S. I would love to take credit for this idea, but I owe the suggestion to Professor Catherine Neish of the University of Western Ontario. As they say, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!" (C.C. Colton)