Tag Archive for 'canberra'





Curious, my photo of the nifty moon-jupiter-venus configuration generated half as many visits as my most popular blog entry, but in only a few days. It appears the title “smiley moon” was what everyone would be googling…


Final PhD talk

I gave my final PhD talk at Mt Stromlo the other day. It covered pretty much everything I’ve done during the last four years, which is documented on the PhD page.

I was exceptionally clever and used two laptops so I could have two slides up at a time. Of course I ended up with an extra 20 slides to explain… but it worked well for the double screen mode in our lecture theatre. The slides are here (main) and here (side).

Busy busy

It’s been a crazy month. Car is sold, junk is sold or gone, house is clean, skateboard is gone, stuff is shipped, most people are said goodbye to…

garage sale

garage sale

mt painter

mt painter

sushi train

sushi train

Smiley moon

Go out and look at the moon tonight. Venus and Jupiter are nearby making a smiley face. Maybe it will cheer the world up some…

smiley face moon

smiley face moon

Selling my car

The time has finally come to sell my trusty old Magna Wagon. Here are a few more pics…

my car

my car

my car again

my car again

once more...

once more...




My day

Having printed my thesis, this view pretty sums up the last few days. Staring out the window and deciding whether to get a better camera, inspired by a check for USD$1800 and the exchange rate, and the much better viewfinders on full frame dslr’s.

doing nothing

doing nothing

Yes, life is tough…

Another sunset

yet another sunset

yet another sunset


Did they have this sticker three months ago?
car sticker

car sticker

This is secret…



Sunset again

burley griffin sunset

burley griffin sunset

More b/w

street lights and moon

street lights and moon

Thesis printing

I printed my thesis last night, there was a nice sunset behind the AITC building.

stromlo sunset

stromlo sunset


This is a house.




We spent a family day out at Tidbinbilla, the nature reserve, not where the telescopes for NASA’s deep space network are. It was rather cloudy and windy, but was nice anyway…

grey day at tidbinbilla

grey day at tidbinbilla

tree stump

tree stump

pelican feeding time

pelican feeding time

swallow feeding time

swallow feeding time

The rest of the photos are here.

Telescope pier

This is part of one of the old burnt out telescopes at Mt Stromlo.

old telescope

old telescope

From the country that brought you “Strictly Ballroom”



Gravity waves

The ANU gravity wave facility has this thing on the end of their building.

artists impression of gravity waves

artists impression of gravity waves

On the same walk I also saw a tree




We walked past these apartments the other day. I never really think of black and white as an option…

Canberra projects

Canberra projects

Canberra sunrise

Canberra was shrouded in fog this morning as I got to school.

Canberra sunrise

Party, party, party

Friday cocktail party, Saturday Zoolander party, Sunday and Monday do nothing…

blue steel

Foggy Canberra

As happens some days there was a layer of fog over Canberra this morning. The sun was making some early attempts to push through the cloud, creating a few spots of light. Very pretty.

fog over canberra

There are a few more photos here.

Balloon festival 2

Using the panorama software Hugin I made another balloon picture. It’s rather more detailed than the last…

balloons over canberra

Balloon festival

Right now there is a hot air balloon festival here in Canberra. I had a nice view of it from afar on my way to school this morning.

balloons and parliament

Vintage 2008

Saturday was grape picking day. We picked three tonnes of Pinot for three or so hours,

in the vines

and then celebrated the harvest with a few well deserved drinks and wood fired pizza.

the harvest

Though really we were helping them out, thanks Brian and Jenny for another enjoyable day.

home and hosed

so I made it back to Canberra sweet as. The trip was fine thanks to the tvs in the seat backs…


Peru: Nasca

With several days to kill after the tour, we decided to head to Nasca. The main attraction there is the lines in the desert near the town. We stayed a night in a crazy little hotel in Lima, and liked it so much we booked another night for when we came back. The bus ride down was definitely worth the trip, as we passed through some of the areas worst affected by the recent earthquake. It was easy to see why so much damage was done, with so many houses made of mud brick they didn’t stand a chance. Most of the real brick buildings were still standing, though not all. In many towns there were many tents along the road set up as makeshift homes. Very sad to see, when these people already have so little.

Demolished houses in Ica

Arriving in Nasca was an experience in itself. A dozen pushy people turned out to try and con us out of our already booked hotel. A simple no wasn’t enough to get rid of them; they pretty much followed us until we walked in the doors of the hotel. We booked ourselves a flight for the next day and went to bed.

The flight the next morning was fun. I haven’t been in a little cessna for years, and this was definitely a small plane flight. To give us good views of the lines, our pilot tipped the plane from side to side for the entire flight. By the end I was feeling a little off, and I’m pretty good in planes most of the time.

We saw all of the lines with varying degrees of clarity, the best being the hummingbird. The best photo anyway…

Hummingbird Nasca line

We went for a walk around the town in the afternoon. Nasca comes off as a lovely little place, with many places to eat on the side of the street. The one we picked was excellent, and of course extremely cheap. There didn’t appear to be that many tourists around, perhaps they were staying away from the south because of the earthquake.

We booked in for a walk up Cerro Blanco, the worlds highest sand dune, the next morning. It was certainly quite a trek, with a break from walking to ride down the dune on sandboards in between. Sandboarding is hard, well I found it hard anyway. It is completely different to riding on snow, with increased pressure slowing one down. This means that you DON’T lean forward unless you like the taste of sand. I don’t particularly like the taste of sand, but had some anyway until I learned to lean back. Here’s one of me once I got into it a bit, complete with dodgy moustache.

Me sandboarding with a dodgy moustache

The walk back to the road took forever, and we’d run out of water which didn’t help. The trip was still worth it, being pretty much the most arid place I’ve ever been, and that includes Canberra. In the evening we headed back to Lima and our kitcshy little hotel. Earlier I’d seen some bottles of Pisco being carried on board, which I figured were prizes for the bingo they play. Thinking I’d quite like one of these I couldn’t get my sheet fast enough when the lady came asking if we wanted to play. Twenty four spanish and english numbers later, I called bingo! and was the proud owner of a bottle of Cruz del Sur labelled bottle of finest Pisco.

The rest of the Nasca photos are here.

Those helpful police

I was renewing my ACT Drivers license from overseas, when I found this page. It shows all the speed camera locations in Canberra!



My trip has (not) started with a delayed flight. We were supposed to leave at `9:40 but now it’s going to be 21:45. The lady assured me any connecting flights would be rebooked, which matters since my flight through to Boston doesn’t exactly have a lot of wiggle room. It would be rather a pain if my trip started with a missed flight! They have started giving out free water, orange juice and biscuits. The type one gets in flight unfortunately.

I’m not excited yet, more nervous than anything else I think. The hassle of going through numerous security checks doesn’t help, though at least in NZ the people are friendly. I hear this doesn’t apply to American security.

The weather appears to be mild in Boston, only 1degC tomorrow. This should make it possible to wander around with pretty normal clothes, rather than a big jacket which I don’t have.

I’ve had an excellent trip through NZ the last week. The only person I missed seeing was Tom. Hiring a car was the best thing I’ve done for a trip like this, rather expensive but worth it for getting about and having freedom. A whole bunch of people are likely to come visit while I’m there. Julie is gong to be in Canada, as is Simon so they may visit. Laurie said he’d come over, despite never visiting me in Canberra. There are also a bunch of people who I can contact when I arrive, who are mates of people I know.

Delayed flights and expensive internet

Wonderful Auckland International Airport. As I sit here next to a food machine people are leaving Gate 10 in droves. Apparently the flight has been delayed further to a departure time of 23:00, rather later than the scheduled time of 19:40. Instead of leaving I’ve so far chosen to sit and surf for something like NZD$10 an hour on my shiny new macbook pro. As an AIA shareholder I’m a little disappointed, though I’m sure there are bigger forces at work…

This isn’t exactly the start I was hoping for on my big trip to the USA. I did expect to go through security multiple times, which I have. I did expect large queues, which I got. I hoped to get away without anyone checking how much my road case with two laptops weighs, which is did.

In my absence Canberra has been inundated with an awesome hailstorm. ANU has closed for the next few days to clean up the mess!

Mt Stromlo on the rebuild III

Three years later the burnt out domes are getting repainted, they look very white!

very white indeed

Mt Stromlo on the rebuild II

Work is well underway on rebuilding the Commonwealth Solar Observatory (CSO), where people here used to have bbq’s every second week. The painted silver domes have been unveiled recently, and look very shiny!


Late nights at xmas06

After each day of the xmas06 talks, many of us had a great time enjoying a few beverages and catching up. Russell and Deanna came all the way from Queensland and Melbourne respectively, and a number of Sydneysiders completed the excellent group of social astronomers that were let loose on an unsuspecting Canberra.

Cheers for two awesome and funny 4am nights guys, I might have won the iPod with and early night but it wouldn’t have been as much fun.

Deanna’s photos here, mine here

Stromlo Student Seminars

The 4th annual Stromlo Student Seminars were held Thursday and Friday last week, and were a resounding success.

Thanks to all those who made the effort to come from elsewhere and contribute to a great couple of days of student science.

See this post for notes on the social side of things…

So long for continental weather…

Last week it snowed, today it’s 34 degrees and there’s a total fire ban. Nice

Mt Stromlo on the rebuild!

We have recently had our new Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Center (AITC) opened. I’ve been watching it come together from my office window, and put together a little time lapse animation of photos taken with my phone.

Have a look at the animation here (19Mb).

my room's view

cricket: game three

This week saw our way to an easy victory, and my first catch of the season! I started out very shaky with the ball wobbling in a disturbing way after passing the bat, and giving myself a rather blue finger. I had it together by the time the first catch came however…

Three more catches followed as we kept the opposition to a paltry 129. Our pom Ian smashed 28 off a single over on his way to 75 not out and an early beer when we finished around 4:30.

Running stats:
batting total: 56
average: 28
catches dropped: 1
catches gloved: 4
byes: about 10
bruises: 4
times fainted: 0

cricket: game one

This was the first game in many years…

It was a terribly windy day down at the Mint, about 30 degrees and a bit of a rough day for my re-introduction to the classic game that is cricket.

With our team batting first, I had to wait until the final ten overs to have a hit. I managed a thigh bruising 37 not out before we had to stop for a spot of lunch (which I neglected to bring)

Already tired and hungry, we went out to field, with me keeping wickets for the first time in about ten years. My aim was to let less than 12 byes past, that allowing for three lots of four byes. Instead I kept it to a measly four, though I think the umpires missed a few. I almost had a clean catching slate, but failed to glove a pretty simple chance keeping up to an offspinner.

Overall I was pretty happy with the game, I didn’t faint after approximately 240 crouches and could still walk the next day (though the stairs were a little difficult).

Running stats:
batting total: 37
average: 37
catches dropped: 1
catches gloved: 0
byes: 4
bruises: 2
times fainted: 0

The Dish!

Oh yeah I’m at the dish, in Parkes NSW. The telescope of the movie is every bit as impressive as it was made to look in the movie. I have proven that by taking amazing photos of it.

Since it’s a radio telescope it can work during the day, which unfortunately we aren’t taking advantage of. Our runs are from 5pm to 8am which leaves one feeling a little tired on occasion.

Nevertheless it has been totally worth the paltry 4 hour drive here from Canberra. Thanks Ken!


A local tornado

We had our own mini tornado on Stromlo the other day when a large amount of control burning was being done…

tornado from afar

My office

For those who heard me say ‘If I ever get a desk job you can kick my ass’ now may be the time to do it. This is my desk…

my desk

Note the cool tray thing for papers at the left, the high tech laptop support, old SIRTF poster, and the essential Sony Pro headphones…

Cocktail party 2006!

So a lot of people took a lot of photos. I’ll let them do the talking…






Backyard fauna

How cool is this? This guy (or girl) was hanging out in our backyard area this afternoon. I just had to take some piccies

blue tongue lizard

Uncle Pete's place

My most recent trip involved more driving… I stopped in Sydney for a night on the way up, and continued on the next day up to my uncle’s place near Kendall. It’s just between Taree and Port Macquarie. Have a look at the map here to get a rough idea of the terristory. It might look close but it’s seven hours solid drive from Canberra.

There are plenty of excellent views to be had from any of the ‘Three Brothers’, the local hills. Below is a photo of where the Camden-Haven river comes out into one of the lakes that surround North Brother, with cool evidence of stuff coming down the river. Photos here.

cool eh? nice geography

Stromlo BBQ raffle winner!

To those who question whether it’s worth buying raffle tickets at the Stromlo barbeques I say:

490g Cadbury milk chocolate egg with assorted milk & dark chocolates

–thanks Jose, I’ll pay you later…

Poker night

We had the sceond in our monthly series of poker nights recently. We each started with about $30,000 (though you can call a chip what you like I guess) and by the end of the night Dan had something like $180,000. In reality he walked away with the princely sum of $30, with which he will buy ‘supplies’ for the next night.

I started strongly with a few good two pair hands, but simply couldn’t compete with the likes of Nic’s handful of flushes and straights. My downfall came when I had a nice three of a kind destroyed by Amanda’s straight. There’s a photo or two here. Better luck next time…

Multicultural festival

On only one day a year does the middle of Canberra actually look busy. The equivalent of Palmy’s International Festival has everything you could want to eat and drink, including Tui!

my Tui model

Balloon season

I remember coming to Canberra last year, and seeing dozens of hot air balloons in the air. I thought maybe it was like that all the time, but there is a season for it. A season which is aparrently close to starting judging by what I saw on the way to school the other day…


Travel to a new state!

I’ve now been to Victoria! 1500 or so kms later I’ve had a decent tour of the Hume and Monaro highways, as well as sampling a few of the beaches on the Aussie ‘Ninety Mile Beach’. Unlike the New Zealand version I think this one is actually about 90 miles long. It has many secluded beaches which are 10 or so kms off the main road, if you can find them…

I went from Canberra, up to Yass and then down to Melbourne through Albury. Then on the return trip we went east to Cann river and then up the Monaro highway through Cooma and home.

map of vic

If you look closely at the picture below you’ll see that the people in Vic are big on keeping their drivers awake…

look closely