Summary of 2012

Summary of 2012

It isn't easy to write a review about the work done this year. The first six months were dedicated almost entirely to science, with very little and unhappy results, while after the summer the work was dedicated entirely to JPARSEC, which always results in very satisfactory results. In fact, for different circumstances I have concluded several times during the year that it is impossible (at least for me) to do a good work unless I work entirely on my own, to be able to do things just as they should be done. The strength of my motivation comes from the way things are done (organization and care, implication in all aspects of the work, and good ratio of quality, efficiency, and rigor), and losing motivation means I cannot work with others. It seems my working methology has evolved so much that I cannot stand the continuos sucession of the same stupid problems with models applied too fast, data calibrated also too fast, figures/tables unchecked, and things repeated one time and another without a clear reason. When I send something to others the work is right in more than 90% of the cases (maybe I have done it several times until it is correct, checking it to be sure it is right), while when I receive something done by others it is wrong in more than 90% of the cases, so first thing is to check it because the other astronomers almost never check things, maybe because they don't want to waste time in scientifically unproductive things (they prefer to waste other's time). Obviously this is my problem because I assume most of the hard work, which makes me feel I'm wasting most if not all of my potential productivity due mainly to the lack of commitment with quality of the work done by others. The only productive thing done this year was the program to reduce observations of spectral surveys almost automatically, it can help to do in hours the work that in other circumstances would require months.

During the summer I dedicated some time to divulgation, after some years without doing this, and it was a pleasant experience. With the help of the amateur astronomer Felipe Moreno, and Dr. Mario Gómez Santamaría (professor at the University of Huelva), we organized two little star parties in/around Barco de Ávila:

  • August 12, 2012: 20-30 people came to 'Los Chopos de Bohoyo', close to Bohoyo and Barco de Ávila, for a little star party between 23h and 1:30h.
  • August 23, 2012: We organized two presentations at the town hall, and then a little star party between 23h and 1:30h around the village, close to Tormes river. 30-40 people came to both events.

Main conclusion was that there's a lot of work to do on this.

After summer I have worked to improve accuracy of ephemerides, quality of charts, performance of the planetarium, and to reduce memory footprint. In few words I improved JPARSEC in each aspect by a factor around 6, allowing an excellent integration in the Android platform. High resolution and quality charts for posters are possible, with support for different vector graphics formats.


I also worked to release a new version of the ephemerides server before 2013. The new features load quick and are visually better, including an animation of the sky for current date and a video with the main events during a year. I wrote a program to create the videos automatically, funny because it was the first thing I did in 2012 with some degree of difficulty. Below I show two videos with some rendering tests, and the astronomical events for 2013 (in spanish). In the first video a little cut backwards is visible in the movement of the satellites due to daylight saving time happening at that precise moment.

Rendering tests / Astronomical events for 2013


As another exercise I decided to write a program to produce an automatic pdf file of all the work done during the year, by taking automatically things from the different directories and downloading the rest as necessary. The results is a complete review of the 2012, upploaded as pdf here.

Projects for 2013

JPARSEC development is close to its end, so besides finishing it I'm thinking/starting on new projects.

  • JPARSEC: next version is almost ready. It will implement a generalization of ephemerides, so that the planetarium will be able to simulate the sky from any given point located on the surface of any other Solar System body. Simulation from any given point in the Solar System (not in the surface of another body) is already possible, but not implemented in the planetarium component (SkyChart, used by the applet and the ClearSky programs). Next steps in the development will include maps of eclipses, numerical integration, revision of the integration with Virtual Observatory, Telescope control, and maybe other things …
  • Ephemerides server: There are some little things to do in the main page. I would like to list some news, a list of planets visible at night with instructions to locate them, and to use the features of JPARSEC to create a star atlas for each year in PDF format, downloadable freely from the page.
  • Android project: I recently had the opportunity to test the Android version of JPARSEC in a Google Nexus 7. I was so impressed with the visual quality and performance (considering the amount of things rendered) that I decided to work more with the Android planetarium to give a good experience and to publish the work in the Android Market. I will try to integrate it with the ephemerides server, since there is a considerable fraction of visits comming from Android devices.
  • Divulgation: I have started a project to write a book for divulgation, and also a set of presentations for each of the chapters of the book. The book will include the star atlas mentioned above. I have few pages written so far, it will be a long project if I ever finish it.
  • 3d stuff: I would like to continue working in a 3d project I have in 'incubating mode' to simulate Solar System and specially Mars, to be used also for divulgation. Not sure if I will have time for this in 2013. This is fine by now because I don't know how I will do this. I may need to learn OpenGL or I may wait for the first results of the Sumatra project (to be included in Java 8) or get time to test Rootbeer.
blog/summary_2012.txt · created: 2012/12/31 12:32 (Last modified 2016/05/17 12:40) by Tomás Alonso Albi
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