December 5-9, 2011 I was invited to attend the First ever Kepler Science Conference. Western New Mexico University paid for the trip since I was an adjunct Astronomy instructor. This was a great opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the greatest astronomy minds in the world. As a participant we were invited to either present a paper or poster. Since my work with the Central Stars of Planetary Nebula’s still has a long way to go, I opted to present a poster. The poster abstract and poster was well received, though most participants in attendance were more interested in exoplanets as might be expected! Thanks to Tom Krajci and Dr. Jennifer Randall for their input and suggestions. Dr. Randall may be into the biological side of science but she sure knows how to do a mean poster!
Overall this was an experience of a lifetime. Much of the theory presented in Bruce Gary’s book (http://brucegary.net/book_EOA/EOA.pdf ) came to life and took on meaning through the talks and posters. The first two days were very technical and dealt with how a computer can detect an exoplanet from Kepler’s signals. Computers are getting way better at this but it is still a very difficult process. The mid week talks on stars and cosmology and spin off from Kepler was very interesting and enlightening. One thing I found disturbing was the number of very bright young people, who have contributed extensively to the Kepler data interpretation efforts, that were there looking for a job! Slim pickings in the job market.