Newsletter of the Tech Computer Center

Volume 14, Number 1         March, 1988

Notes From the Editor


You hold in your hand volume 14 of the TCC newsletter.   I couldn't call it volume 1, because that's been done --- back in 1975.   No copies of volume 1 actually survive, but our staff archaeologist has unearthed a copy of volume 3 that is dated 1977, so I choose to believe that there was a volume 1 and that it was printed in 1975.

Thirteen years later, this is volume 14.   At least, I'm calling it volume 14.   Never mind that the most recent issue our archaeologist was able to dig up was volume 9, printed in 1983.   Even during the silent years when no issues of the newsletter were print ed, the function that increments the volume number (inc_vol_num we call it) was hard at work.

Anyway, the TCC newsletter (TCC News, we call it) is back by popular demand, and I, Amy Blackburn, am its editor.   Its function is to alert you to any noteworthy changes or events that take place at the computer center.   I welcome any comments or suggestion s you may have, and I also welcome any noteworthy news, particularly in the form of finished articles.   I plan to publish an issue every month, and in the absence of news, I may be forced to resort to base humor or even blatant space-filler, so please reel free to make your ideas known.   You can send mail to amy or you can put things on paper and leave them with Elma at the computer center.

We're Joining the INTERNET Community

The Tech Computer Center is currently connected to a network called UUCP (Unix to Unix Copy) or USENET.   It is a bunch of programs that allow us to copy large files from other universities and industries through the telephone lines.   Our link to the network is through the UNM computer center that sends us our network news, public domain software, and other useful files.

The news is that there's something much better.   There is a high-speed fiber optic cable, called New Mexico Technet, that runs along the Rio Grande Valley, and we're getting hooked up to it.   New Mexico Technet will connect us to INTERNET, which is a whole network of connections between computers all over the country.

INTERNET has some important advantages over USENET.   For one thing, it's fast.   We can get our network news in less than half the time it takes to copy it over the phone lines.   It will also allow us to log into the super computers at major universities that are connected to INTERNET.

We're Getting a New Laser Printer

Before I apologize for our poor, overworked laser printer and all of the inconveniences it has caused lately, I would like to point out that it has been a heroic little machine.   In the two and a half years since we got it, it has run almost non-stop, turn ing out beautiful copies so fast and so reliably that we began to take it for granted.   So it broke.   What did we expect?   I apologize for our poor, overworked laser printer and all of the inconveniences it has caused lately.

In about a month we will have a new Imagen 2308/S laser printer.   It will print a little blacker than the old one, and it will be a little faster on small jobs, because it will be able to take several of them at a time from the floppy disk.   Other than that, it will be very similar to the one we already have.   The important difference will be that we will have two.   The work load will be lighter for both of them, and if either one breaks, we will have the other one to back it up.

We Have a New Disk Drive

We recently installed a new CDC 972-850 disk drive on Titan.   We now have a total of over 600 megabytes of storage space.   That's more than twice as much disk space as we had on the DEC 20's.

Image Reduction and Analysis Facility (IRAF)

by David Dixon

Research Assistant, Joint Observatory for Cometary Research (JOCR)

IRAF stands for Image Reduction and Analysis Facility.   It is a collection of hundreds of routines for image processing, display, and analysis executed from within a command language called CL.   IRAF is public domain software which was begun at Kitt Peak National Observatory in 1981 and is currently maintained and distributed by Kitt Peak's parent organization, the National Optical Astronomical Observatories (NOAO) IRAF has been installed on the New Mexico Tech Sun system in conjunction with JOCR the Joint Observatory for Cometary Research.   JOCR is the combined effort of Tech and NASA and operates an observatory on South Baldy for comet research.

IRAF begins with programs to read digital images from tape or disk.   Presently, we are processing images of Comet Bradfield which were taken through a Schmidt telescope on South Baldy.   The images were digitized at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.   We are also working with the digital output from a CCD (Charge Coupled Device) mounted on a 16-inch telescope also on South Baldy. IRAF provides the tools necessary to determine the response characteristics of our particular COD.   Once the CCD is well understood , we will be able to correct for idiosyncrasies of the COD and the telescope, and for the effects of temperature on the CCD's ability to convert photons to electrons.

The CCD will allow us to take extremely long exposures, dump the image to tape, and transport the tape down the mountain to the Tech Computer Center.   Here, IRAF will let us clean and enhance the image to bring out the features of particular interest, and to perform optical and statistical analysis on the image.   Meanwhile, the Sun system will allow us to view the image, in color, while we're processing it, and will give us numerical information necessary to decide what the next step will be.   Final output will be in the form of contour or surface plots from the laser printer, numerical analysis of the image from the line printer, and eventually, photographs from the image display.

Tech has been well known for radio astronomy since the VLA came here.   Additionally, however, we have had two optical observatories on South Baldy for some years now; JOOR and the Colgate Supernova Detector.   With the increased importance of these facilities, and the recent interest by various organizations in building a major observatory in the nearby mountains, Tech is becoming an important center for optical astronomy as well.   The arrival of IRAF is both a further step to our presence in this field as we ll as evidence of our arrival.

Note: There is no manual for IRAF yet, but all of the available documentation for it is contained in the directory /usr/src/local/iraf/iraf/doc

What's in a Name?

Dianne Meier

Technical Writer, TCC

Back when the TCC was planning on replacing the DEC-20 computers, the TCC held a contest for the best series of names for the new machines.   Out of that contest came the astronomical names we now use for the different Suns.   This article lists the names and tells where they come from and how to pronounce them.   You may not recognize all of the names; some of the names toward the end of the list are not being used yet.

Rough pronunciation guide

the syllable with the strongest stress is CAPITALIZED a, e, 1, 0, u = short vowels
ay, ee, ly, oh, oo = long vowels
uh = "shwa," the upside down "e" used in dictionaries

Aldebaran (al DEB uhr uhn)
The brightest star in the constellation Taurus.   The Arabic name means "the follower;" it follows the Pleiades.

Betelgeuse (BET el joos)
The second-brightest star in the constellation Orion.   The Arabic name means "shoulder of the giant."

Cassiopeia (kas ee uh PEE uh)
A constellation.   In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia was the wife of Cepheus and the mother of Andromeda.

Degobah (DAY goh buh)
Yoda's home planet (from the "Star Wars" movies).

Europa (yuh ROH puh)
One of Jupiter's moons.   In Greek mythology, Europa was one of the maidens seduced by Zeus, the king of the gods.

Fomalhaut(FOH muhl hawt)
The brightest star in the constellation Piscis Austrinus.   The Arabic name means "mouth of the fish."

Ganymede (GAN uh meed)
The largest moon of Jupiter.   In Greek mythology, Ganymede was the cupbearer of the gods.

Hercules (HUR kyuh leez)
A constellation.   Hercules is the Roman name for Heracles, a great hero in Greek mythology.

Io (IY oh, EE oh)
A volcanically active moon of Jupiter.   In Greek mythology, Io was yet another maiden seduced by Zeus.

Jupiter (JOO pi ter)
The fifth and largest planet in our solar system.   Jupiter is the Roman name for Zeus, the king of the gods in Greek mythology.

Kochab (KO kahb)
A star in Ursa Minor, the brighter one of the "guardian" stars.   The Arabic name means "the star."

Luna (LOO nuh)
The moon.   Luna is a Roman name for Diana, the goddess of the moon in Greek mythology.

Miranda (mi RAN duh)
A moon of Uranus.   Miranda was the daughter of Prospero in Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Neptune (NEP toon)
The eighth planet in our solar system.   Neptune is the Roman name for Poseidon, the god of the sea in Greek mythology.

Orion (uh RIY uhn)
"The Hunter," a distinctive winter constellation.   In Greek mythology, Orion was a hunter who was killed by a scorpion.

Pegasus (PEG uh subs)
A constellation.   In Greek mythology, Pegasus was the winged horse that sprang from Medusa's blood.

Quasar (KWAY zahr)
A star-like, extragalactic object.   Quasars are thought to be the most distant and luminous objects in the universe.

Rigel (RIY juhl)
The brightest star in the constellation Orion.   The Arabic name means "foot."

Sirius (SIR ee uhs)
The "Dog Star," in the constellation Canis Major (Orion's dog).   Sirius is the brightest star in the sky (except for our sun, of course).   The Greek name means "scorcher."

Titan (TIY tan)
A moon of Saturn.   In Greek mythology, Titan was the elder brother of Kronos and was the ancestor of the Titans (a race of gods Zeus expelled from Olympus).

Umbriel (UM bree el)
A moon of Uranus.

Vega (VAY guh)
The brightest star in the constellation Lyra.   The Arabic name means "(tile) falling (eagle)."

Rates for Sun Usage

Cost per hour of CPU time:

time of day              Jupiter Titan or Sirius  All other Suns

Prime time (9:00am to 6:00pm)	         $ 50.00   $ 20.00
Evening (6:01pm to midnight)  	         $ 40.00   $ 15.00
Overnight(12:01 am to 8:59am)	         $ 30.00   $ 10.00
Weekends (6:01pm Friday to 8:59 Monday)	 $ 30.00   $ 10.00

Other Charges

item	         Cost
Connect time	$ 1.00	per hour
Disk usage	$ 0.1275 per megabyte per day (averaged)
Laser printer	$ 0.12	per page (including header)
Printer	        $ 0.02	per page (including header)
Plotter	        $ 0.432	per minute
Tape drive	free	(for now)

These rates will probably change as we gain more data on system usage.   We will eventually have a rate structure with lower rates for low priority usage.

Office terminals will be charged a minimum of $5.00 per month for connect time.

End of issue

Note: The TCC no longer charges for connect time or CPU time!