I spent the past week in California’s Inyo Mountains at the CARMA Summer School. Summer schools are intensive opportunities to learn a subject from experts in the field, gain experience working on a project, and meet people. Participants include graduate student of all years, post-docs, and enterprising undergraduate students. This particular summer school was held at an observatory and focused on learning the theory of interferometry and the practice of observing with CARMA (an experience featured in an earlier Astrobites post). For those wondering, CARMA stands for the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy.
To give you a sense of what the experience was like, I’ve made an interactive Treemap of my week at CARMA. Since WordPress doesn’t let us upload Flash files you’ll need to click the picture below or go to this link to view the live version. When you move your mouse over the various boxes (representing different chunks of time grouped by day and colored by type of activity), a short description will display. If the box flashes gold then you can click to view an accompanying picture.
A good chunk of time was spent listening to lectures from the instructors. The topics varied from basic hardware descriptions to CARMA observer responsibilities. Concurrently we worked on an observation project using data taken with array that week. This meant learning how to operate CARMA (or more specifically how to use the software that runs the array). This project also gave me the opportunity to learn how to reduce and analyze data with many experts on hand to answer questions. Along the way we ate lots of good food, gazed at a spectacular Sierra sky, enjoyed each others company, and even caught a few hours of sleep. On Saturday after the school was officially over, many of the students and instructors headed over to the Western Sierras for a fantastic hike.
There was a glut of information presented in the lectures.
Two instructors help students with their projects.
My observing buddy Crystal watches the sun rise from the operations building.
The Western Sierras are a whole different sort of spectacular.
Thanks to the staff, instructors and students for a fantastic experience!
…also… did you hear about the recent evidence for water on Mars!?!
The Treemap was made using Flare.