Sunday, December 30, 2012

12 Days of Christmas (letter) - May


In which the sun disappears temporarily, Elizabeth visits Texas, and there is some hiking.

May was a month of really cool things happening to the sun. The first was on May 3rd where the sun set exactly at the end of the La Jolla Peer. The sun only aligns with the peer twice a year and it can be pretty hard to catch, since to see it the sky has to be clear all the way to the horizon. We had seen it once before, but Nathan had learned a lot about his camera since then so he really wanted a second shot at capturing it. This year he finally got his chance and he was pretty thrilled (photos can be seen here).

Setting up the shot.
Later that month we had super yummy hot pot with our good friends Qing and Rick, who informed us of another cool sun event. We were scheduled to go to Arizona the following week for Nathan's Sigmod conference, and Page, AZ (4 hours north of the conference) was in the direct path of a full anular eclipse one day before the conference. 

Hot pot dinner!

We had planned to do some hiking anyway, so we decided to go to Horseshoe Bend to see the eclipse. Our first Hiking day we spent in the Grand Canyon. We took the Hermit's rest path partway down the canyon wall to Santa Maria Spring (1,740 ft down the canyon wall).  

photographing the canyon

jumping in the canyon

Sunset from the south rim.

The next day we made our way to horseshoe bend to watch the eclipse. It was a pretty popular eclipse spot which turned out to be a really good thing. We spent out time chatting with an astronomer who was there with her children. She told us all about kinds of eclipses, the most pertanent thing being that you can't see an anular eclipse with your naked eye. The moon is on the close part of it's path to the Earth and although it if completely in front of the sun it is too small to block enough light to allow you to see the ring. You need something like cloud cover or special eclipse glasses to filter out enough light. Cloud cover was looking unlikely, but a super nice man had ordered tons of extra glasses and he gave us two pairs!!

Eclipse Glasses

Cool eclipse shot from Nathan's camera.

waiting at Horseshoe Bend for the sun to disappear

this is very high and a straight drop down.
It actually scared me more than the Grand Canyon.

best shot I took of the eclipse, check out the mini
eclipse behind Nathan's head.  The lense reflects
the light internally and it was the only way I
could capture the eclipse with my camera.

After the Eclipse we headed to Scottsdale for Nathan's conference. Most of the conference time was spent with Nathan in session and me working on my computer in the lobby, but on the night of the conference banquet we got to see some of the Arizona landscape at a local ranch.

riding through the dessert on hay BALES!!!!
Sunset horse ride through the dessert

Cute lantern, Cute husband

Cute barn with little white christmas lights!
After the conference we did one more day of hiking to see the Saguaro's in bloom.

see all the things sticking out of the end of those cactus arms?
Those are Saguaro flowers!

Here's a close up. :)

In May I also traveld to Austin for the CHI conference. My officemate Sarah and I were lucky enough to receive a scholarships to attend the conference and the CHIME workshop beforehand, which turned out to be a wonderful experience where we got to meet lots of other researchers some of whom may be future collaborators. We also got to eat some fantastic BBQ and explore the Texas Capitol building which may or may not be made out of radioactive pink granite.

Research friends from England, France, and Pittsburg

Cowboy boots!
The rest of the month was rather uneventful, although it appears the penguin got into some trouble. I was looking through our photos from May and found these gems.

Penguin explores employment options as our
resident apartment cowboy.
Penguin using tissues irresponsibly


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