Al Wootten's Works Page

On the whole, I'd rather be sailing through Ophiuchus.

Research with images.

Here I am at the prime focus of the Hale 200" telescope with a He3 bolometer. The magnetic field exciting motor for the dome driving motor failed, however, so we netted nothing on our attempt to discover millimeter continuum emission from TMC1. What does millimeter continuum emission tell us? See the molecular astrophysics page.

The origin of Stars and Planetary Systems fascinates me. Who first thought of stars and planets forming in nebulous systems? Whitrow notes that before Kant, Sir Christopher Wren speculated:

"But then I only begin to value the Advantage of this Age in Learning before the former, when I fancy him (Seneca) continuing his Prophecy (of a new world), and imagine how much the ancient laborious Enquirers would envy us, should he have sung to them, that a Time would come, when Men should be able to stretch out their Eyes, as Snails do, and extend them to fifty feet in length; by which means, they should be able to discover Two Thousand Times as many Stars as we can; and find this Galaxy to be Myriads of them; and every nebulous Star appearing as if it were the Firmament of some other World, at an incomprehensible Distance, buried in the vast Abyss of intermundious vacuum." (or, in the original Latin `si nebulosam quam stellam Potius Firmamentum esse, non nostrum portasse sed Remotissimi cujus da Mundi quam vastis Intermundiis dissiti.')

-- Sir Christopher Wren in his inaugural address as professor of astronomy at Gresham College, 1657, quoted by G. J. Whitrow "The Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 8, p. 55 (1967).

Wren thus becomes the first to prognosticate the Millimeter Array .

Recent publications: Star Formation:


"Potential Protostars in Cloud Cores: H$_2$CO Observations of Serpens."
R. L. Hurt, M. Barsony and A. Wootten. ApJ.

"A Monthly Survey of Water Masers Associated with Low Mass Stars." M. J. Claussen, B. A. Wilking, P. J. Benson, A. Wootten, P. Myers and S. Terebey. ApJ.

"Water Maser Survey toward Low-Mass Young Stellar Objects in the Northern Sky: Observational Constraints on Maser Excitation Conditions" Furuya, Ray S.; Kitamura, Yoshimi; Wootten, H. Alwyn; Claussen, Mark J.; Kawabe, Ryohei, 

I've been interested in orchids for years, and have recently acquired an addiction to aroids as well. A keen-eyed observer will be able to pick out many species among the evening star patterns. The 1995 March blooming of Amorphophallus titanum in Leiden is available as a GIF file. This image was scanned from a postcard send me from the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden; the postcard copyright date was given as 1995, but I am told that this photograph is of the 1994 flowering.

The Black Hole Chili Gang, of which I am a member, cooked in Chili Cookoffs in Texas. The Brides of Black Hole Chili cooked this recipe , which won sixth place in the Luckenbach Women's Chile Championship in 1979. Of course, this page presents only one possible structure of a Black Hole, and others may be found at Chile-Heads Home Page

When not concocting black holes, astronomers must constantly check the weather. As wind is an important component of that, I have vigilantly pursued methods of monitoring the wind. An excellent monitor of wind is sailing. I had a 14' Snipe in Texas. While seeking unknown black holes and gunk holes on the Chesapeake, I bought a 25' MacGregor, which unfortunately I don't get the chance to pilot under the night skies as often as I'd like. I've been messing about the Bay on boats since I was a child in search of the perfect observing location. My grandfather founded a steamship company, Victor Lynn Lines, which ran a number of steamers hauling produce about the Bay and along the East Coast from Haiti to New York. I boarded the last trip in 1954, an overnight one affording me a perfect opportunity to continue my quest for a perfect observing site. My grandmother moved to Pine Knob Farm, a grand old place on a bluff overlooking the Wicomico Creek, in 1946, arriving on her sailboat which was fresh from garnering second place in the Newport to Bermuda race. We observed Comet Mrkos from there, as well as Mars.

Before entering the land of chili, I tended bar for years in my father's restaurant, Crab Haven, on 31st Street in Ocean City, Maryland. Owing to light pollution, this is not one of the Shore's best observing localities, but the better spots are on the bay side, particularly behind my cousin's restaurant, The Wharf on 138th Street--try it out! For most of those years, I was too young to sample what I made, making me a particularly reliable observer. I was also chief crab cook, personally steaming about a third of a million of those succulent crustaceans over three years, according to my best estimates as I sought to discover how my mind was supposed to see the constellation Cancer. Kepler sought guidance in the music of the spheres; pursuing his quest I might be found playing the piano. I'm working on Opus 31, No. 3 by Beethoven at the moment, and probably will be for some time... Sit down by the fire and I'll play a few measures. My son, Nate, observes with me frequently in Green Bank

next up Next: Black Hole Chili Recipe

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