One of my aunts just gave birth to her second yesterday: Hannah, 8lb 2. I have no idea if that’s big, small, or indifferent. Heck, I only have a vague idea of how much a pound weighs: so she’d be just shy of 4kg to my metric brain, which makes a lot more sense. Converting into everyday objects, that’s two large bags of sugar.

20131208 Zach Weiner

I still don’t know if that’s a lot of stuff to push out all in one go; I have no idea on the scale of how big babies could/ should be, and I’m not going to do a density/volume calculation, but it sounds like a lot, and it probably stung a bit.


On top of that, a university friend is looking to have her first in a couple of months. Facebook is full of pictures of ultrasounds and newborns; everyone is pregnant except us.  It’s starting to get a tad repetitive.

It’s not helped by the fact that I’m barely seeing my wife at the moment; I’m currently spending four days a week in Hampshire with another aunt in order to be closer to work until our new house purchase goes through. Add in a couple of tough coursework deadlines and suddenly the amount of time I’ve had to actually talk to her has been reduced. I’ve spent the past few weeks extremely busy as part of an open university project, measuring the properties of a variable brightness star, gathering data using a remote controlled telescope in Tenerife – this whopper:

PIRATE 17″ telescope, Tenerife. Open University

It’s considerably larger than my telescope at home! Using this, we’ve been able to gather this data:

KM UMa RGB observations, Lost Astronomer Apr 17

It’s the visual light curve from a little studied star in the constellation of Ursua Major, or the Plough – my favourite asterism. We think it’s the sort of light curve you’d get from a non-contact binary star; two stars orbiting each other with an orbital period of about 8 hours. The intensity of the light they give off rises and falls as they orbit, tugging at each other in an eternal cosmic dance, rising and falling, bound together for billions of years, orbiting three times a day from now until they die. All in one chart.

For the uninitiated, this is wonderful data. It’s so clean; there’s no noise in it, very few anomalies, you can immediately tell what it is just by looking at it. Unfortunately, it’s taken a lot of hard work and difficult maths to achieve something this beautiful; there’s been a lot of time, effort, and literal sleepless nights. Each blip is an observation, every point had to be measured and calculated. There are thousands. At some points it didn’t look like it was going to be successful, but we persevered, and were rewarded.


Come to think about it, there’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere…