The day started off with a meeting with Beth, Maya and I, where we discussed what types of research we'll be doing this summer, what goals we hope to achieve, etc, along with going over a background article we read.
(Here's the article: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aa/2010/285454.html)
Over the course of the next few months, (in a nutshell) we are aiming to be completely up to date with current research on stealth galaxies, and create a model for where we think stealth galaxies are. More short-term goals include getting caught up on the literature, and getting familiar with IDL and Unix.
One of my personal goals for the summer is to gauge the extent of my interest in astronomy. Though I have only limited experience in astronomy, I like what I know so far. I feel like this is my summer of "real-world astronomy" -- doing research and computer programming. I feel like if I'm still really interested in astronomy after this summer, then I think its something I could see myself doing in the future.
Today was a lot of learning and catching up all at once. After our initial meeting, I spent the majority of the time getting used to unix and playing around with IDL. Suprisingly enough, I'm finding that the computer coding isn't too frustrating. It's pretty cool actually. Even just from one day of tinkering around with it, I feel like I've learned a lot. I can see how after a fair amount of practice, it's something I could get pretty comfortable with.
I went through the Unix and IDL tutorials along with part of a virtual lab from the ASTR206 course. I created different directories in my squid home and copied and moved them around. I spent a while figuring out how to apply the interactive rm feature, and finally got it after lots of erasing and re-copying of files. I practiced plotting random data and then real data from one of the labs.
I also spent some time reading and taking notes from the Ostlie astrophysics textbook, learning about apparent and absolute magnitudes along with luminosity ratios. All neat stuff.
All in all, a great first day! I'm very excited for this summer and what will come of our research.