Monthly Archives: July

Observing the Heavens at Lick Observatory

The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory, owned and operated by the University of California. It is situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose, California, USA. The observatory is managed from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where its scientific staff moved in the mid-1960s. (source: Wikipedia)

Every year, the Lick Observatory presents a summer concert series on Saturday nights to benefit the Lick Observatory Visitors Programs. Tickets are hard to come by, and the shows sell out soon after they go on sale. However, this year, I managed to purchase a couple of tickets, and last night, Brandi and I had the opportunity to spend the evening at the Lick Observatory.

The evening began pleasantly with an observation of solar prominences, shortly followed by an hour long string quartet concert. We then got to observe Messier 17, an emission nebula located approximately 6,000 light years away from us, through the Great 36" Lick refractor (the 2nd largest in the world!) After that, the renowned Geoff Marcy gave a lecture on “Searching for Earth-like Planets” [outside our solar system] Finally, we looked at a few deep sky objects, as well as Jupiter, through amateur telescopes stationed on the parking lot. Below are some photos of this wonderful event. Cheers!

Sunset at the Lick Observatory

Looking back at the bay from Mount Hamilton

A high quality, amateur-owned refractor outfitted with a special solar filter

The Great 36

String quartet concert

Looking back at San Jose

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An IDE Device Driver for Simplix

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working on an IDE hard disk driver for my hobby operating system Simplix. This driver probes for existing IDE controllers, identifies the IDE devices connected to these controllers, and allows for reading/writing contiguous sectors from/to these devices. It communicates with IDE devices in PIO mode (no DMA) and does not support ATAPI devices (i.e. it does not offer any support for CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drives) At the same time, I also wrote a RAM disk driver, a simple block device interface, and a test program in the form of a kernel thread. This test program reads the first sector of the master IDE device connected to the primary IDE controller, and displays the last two bytes of this sector. These are usually 0x55aa (boot record signature)

Go ahead and take a look at the source code online. You can also download the Simplix distribution, compile it and run it either in Bochs/QEMU, or on a real PC. Below is a screen shot of Simplix running inside Bochs. Cheers!