The best thing about astronomy

Gravity waves are cool, and everyone is going crazy over the latest gravitational wave discovery with the first optical counterpart (audio AND visual!). I spent a summer between college and grad school working for the Institute for Gravitational Research at Glasgow Uni. I’m pretty sure that I personally did very little of lasting value, but it is very fun to see the decades of real work put in my former colleagues pay off big time.

But, for me, the coolest thing about the latest gravitational wave news is this map of all the telescopes used:

GW around the world

Thousands of astronomers, all over the world, on every continent, stopped whatever else they were doing to point whatever telescope they had to collectively figure out this awesome new thing in the sky. That’s alot of excited emails, texts, Skype calls, coffee and late night data analysis.

Why? Okay, sure, it is nice to be a co-author on one of the first multi-messenger astronomy papers. Maybe they’ll hand out another Nobel prize (but only to a lucky few). Nope, everyone did this ‘cause it is freaking awesome and we are just starting to get this brand new view of the universe. That’s it. The joy of discovery, and the joy of connecting with kindred spirits around the world.

Jennifer Lotz

Jennifer Lotz

My name is Jennifer Lotz. I'm an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute. With the Hubble Space Telescope, I hunt for the first galaxies in the universe and watch galaxies collide.