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Trisha Borgman

My Field Journals


I suppose I should begin by introducing myself. My name is Trisha Borgman, and I work on a project called The Guide Star Photometric Catalog II (or, GSPC II). I am 21 years old, and I am a senior physics major at Johns Hopkins University. That's right--I'm still a student, too! I started working here at Space Telescope last summer as part of the Summer Student Program, and I've been here ever since.

GSPC II is basically like a big phone book of the stars. When it's done, it will be an enormous catalog of star names (just like a person's name in the phone book), their coordinates in the sky (like a person's address or phone number), and some information about how hot each star is, and what color it is. It may sound weird to talk about the "color" of a star--after all, they all pretty much look white against the night sky! But when you look at stars very closely, you can start to see that some stars are more red than others, while others appear to be blueish. Astronomers can learn lots of neat facts about each individual star by studying its color. So anyway, the GSPC II will be a huge listing of information about millions of stars all over the sky! Other astronomers will then be able to use the information in the catalog for their own research.

I really like my job a lot. I only work part-time, of course, because I'm still taking a full load of courses, but it's a wonderful experience for me to be able to really USE what I've been learning in class for something in real life! My specific role in preparing the GSPC II is mostly data reduction. This means that whenever astronomers come back from observing at a telescope, I process the data which they bring back until it's ready to go into the catalog. It's fun to look at all of the data, and to try hard to process it correctly. The part I like least is the waiting time. The data is stored on tapes that look very similar to cassette tapes for a stereo, and sometimes it takes up to two hours just to transfer the data from the tape to my computer.

I have always been interested in science, especially astronomy! As a kid, I really wanted to be an astronaut. I read all the books about space flight I could find, and I really worked hard in school. I took all the math and science courses I could get into, and I spent a lot of time playing with LEGO's and model kits. I also really enjoy creative writing. I guess I just like to learn everything I can!

I think that my teachers have been the most influential people in my life. I still keep in touch with my 7th grade science teacher, and we have become good friends. My family moved around a lot while I was growing up, so I had to learn how to make friends quickly. I've lived in Missouri, California, Arizona (two separate times!), Texas, and now Baltimore. Although it was hard to have to move so many times, it really taught me how to be adaptable. That's an important characteristic for a scientist (and for a student, too!).

As far as my own hobbies are concerned, I enjoy writing stories, running, playing soccer, cooking, and singing. I also tutor an inner city elementary school child, and I really have fun doing that! I don't have any pets in my apartment, but I wish that I had a few kittens! When I am able to have a few cats of my own, I will name them Gauss, Schrodinger, and Copernicus, after some of my favorite famous physicists. I really like science, especially physics. It's fun to be able to figure out why things work the way they do!

Well, I think this is a good introduction to who I am and what I do. I'm looking forward to keeping in touch with all of you!

Trisha

 
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