Final Reflections: On to the Next Adventure

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Rachel Odessey

As I sit in a cabin in the Catskills, on a family trip far from any sign of cell phone service, my last few days at Goddard and at SPS seem very far away, almost like a dream, but as soon as I look back at the pictures the whole experience rushes back to me. 

I was working on my project right up until Wednesday, my last day at Goddard, trying to get a tricky bug out of my script to map the Homunculus nebula at Br-gamma, corrected to remove atmospheric (telluric) absorption—somehow the script would always set all the values of the dataset to zero and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. but I kept running into the same problem of somehow resetting all the values to zero. It’s too bad my NASA credentials have expired now, because I’m curious to see what the corrected map would look like. I ran through my presentation with my adviser, then again with all the SPS interns on Thursday. Public speaking has always made me nervous, so I made sure to factor in everyone’s advice as I readied my slides for the big day Friday.

Luckily, all the practice paid off and the talk went smoothly (at least, so I’m told) and I loved to hear everyone else talk about the projects that they’d spent so many hours with this summer. A lot of interesting people came to hear us talk, and we all went around to talk afterward and eat the good food SPS always provides. 

We make a pretty good crew

I feel like I’ve learned so much this summer—about astronomy, about the way the science world works, how the relatively small group that is the physics community makes its case to the rest of the world for its own importance, whether it’s to Congress or to an elementary school classroom, and I know I’ve met people I want to stay in touch with long after this summer is over. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of what I did with Eta Carinae and what comes next, and I’m looking forward to maybe exploring some other aspect of physics sometime soon.

It’s been bittersweet to move out and say goodbye to all my new friends, only somewhat appeased by a last-day trip to play in the giant ball pit that was built in the National Building Museum. For now, it's on to the next adventure.

Nothing says "I'm an adult" quite like playing in a giant ball pit.

Rachel Odessey