Tim Thompson's Home Page

Working in the Adriatic
Grand Canal, Venice Italy
April 1, 2001

Vacation 2001
Burney Falls, California
July 6, 2001

Railroad Valley (Locke's Pond), Nevada;
September 20, 1997

Timothy John Thompson; In my Office; circa 1991

Salton Sea, California;
January 17, 1999

Timothy J. Thompson
Barcroft Laboratory
White Mountain
Research Station
October 19, 1997

"The Night Has a Thousand Eyes"
Francis William Bourdillon

The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is gone.

"On a Dog of Lord Eglinton's"
Robert Burns

I never barked when out of season,
I never bit without a reason;
I n'er insulted weaker brother,
Nor wronged by force or fraud another.
We brutes are placed a rank below:
Happy for man could he say so.

The digital clock shows the time and Date according to your computer. This is a JAVA script clock, and if the window seems larger than it needs to be, it's intentional - some computers display a longer string, and I haven't bothered to format a custom string for myself. Check the U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock to see what time it really is (courtesy of the U.S. Naval Observatory and its Time Service Department). Or, you can visit the Official U.S. Time server from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and pick your favorite time zone.

I am a physicist formerly employed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where I started in January, 1981 and retired in November, 2008. My main professional interests have been in astronomy, astrophysics, and atmospheric physics. During my 11 years in the radio astronomy group at JPL, worked on chemical and radiative transfer models of the outer planet atmospheres, and observation & analysis of outer planet atmospheres & magnetospheres and their plasma environments, including radio observations using the facilities of the Deep Space Network. From 1994 through January, 2002, I worked on the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) project, in charge of developing algorithms to compensate for the presence of Earth's atmosphere between the orbiting infrared imagers and the surface being imaged (we were officially known as the Atmospheric Corrections Team, which I always thought was inferior to Atmospheric Compensation Team, if only because the atmosphere is not wrong, it's just there; we were really compensating for it, not correcting it). We used the MODTRAN radiative transfer package as a kernel for the atmospheric correction code. In January 2002, I went back into the astronomy business, as part of the Infrared Astronomy Group, and simultaneously as part of the staff for the Center for Long Wavelength Astrophysics. Most of this time was spent working on the implementation of an algorithm to enhance the resolution of infrared & submillimeter Spitzer Space Telescope images, by compressing the point spread function (PSF) of the telescope by about a factor of three (a task made more difficult by the fact that Spitzer launched with a stressed secondary mirror, which deformed the PSF into an unusual triangular shape). In late 2012, through early 2013, I have returned as a part time consultant in the Infrared Astronomy Group, still working on resolution enhancement for Spitzer images.

I earned B.S. (1978) and M.S. (1985) degrees in physics, both from the Physics Department at California State University at Los Angeles, beginning my career at JPL while still a graduate student. Prior to that, I served 4 years in the U.S. Air Force, graduating from the Defense Language Institute in 1972, where I passed my exit examinations in both Russian & French. Aside from a professional career in astronomy, I am also an amateur astronomer, and have enjoyed long affiliations with the Los Angeles Astronomical Society (where I have served as President and as a member of the Board of Directors) and Mount Wilson Observatory (where I have been a tour guide and session director for the 60-inch telescope for over 30 years).

I have also been a rated tournament chess player since 1968, with a United States Chess Federation rating currently ranging erratically throughout the 1900s (my lifetime peak in the mid 1980s was 2154, but maintaining a rating that high is real work, at least for me). My main claims to chessic fame are perhaps a perfect score on 4th board of the 1984 U.S. Amateur Team Championship (west), a few "Best Industrial Team" trophies and one 3rd place team, a couple of club championships and the Class A prize in the 1978 Monterey International Open. If you are a real fan of my personal chess history, you can visit my USCF member profile page.

I also like to collect books, mostly physics, math & general science books, chess & history books, especially military history. I have a few hundred books published before 1900, ranging back to my oldest book, printed in 1698. My joint library with my wife currently counts about 3000 books, roughly 800 of them devoted to chess specifically.

I am also an experienced public speaker on astronomy and global warming. I have for many years been delivering talks for amateur astronomy clubs, schools, civic organizations, and private groups. If you are interested in hearing about the wonders of the universe, or just about any topic in astronomy, let me know.

Who is that guy with the beard?
A short autobiography

Vacation 2005
A cross country driving trip

Brief Resume

More about my personal & professional activities.
Each tag also leads to web links related to that activity.
Physicist Astronomer Author
Antiquarian Book Collector ASTER Project Chess Player

I am active both as an astronomer & tournament chess player.
President (1996-2003)
Pasadena Chess Club
President (1990-1992, 1997-2002, 2010)
Los Angeles Astronomical Society
Docent & 60-inch Telescope Session Director
Mount Wilson Observatory

Honorary degrees & appointments (sense of humor required).
Professor of Planetary Atmospherics; Ginenthal Chair of Planetary Physics
Virtual University of Ediacara
Dr. of Creation Science Education
Prof. of Scientific Autorelational Urban Creationary Engineering
By Bayou University
"Your Diploma Mill On the Web"

There is a lot of good information available on the web.
Informational & Educational Resources on the Web
astronomy, physics, climate, weather, earthquakes, languages, science; other interesting stuff.
People on the Web
friends, acquaintances & famous people!
The Leah Hotz Fan Club
Somebody tell Yo-Yo Ma to move over!

View Guestbook
I removed the link to send comments to a guestbook, because I am tired of going in every day to delete the raft of spam entries from online casinos, cheap drugs, and worse. It's not worth it. If you have feedback or comments,
Send E-mail

Jack, eating rotten cheese, did say,
Like Samson I my thousands slay.
I vow, quoth Roger, so you do,
And with the selfsame weapon too.

Impromptu by Benjamin Franklin

Since all that I can ever do for Thee
Is to do nothing, this my prayer must be:
That thou mayest never guess nor ever see
The all-endured this nothing-done cost me

"The Last Wish"
Edward Bulwer, Earl of Lytton

The background image was taken from the W.M. Keck Observatory web page in Hawaii many years ago. The hexagonal pattern shows the structure of the segmented primary mirror common to both of the 10 meter telescopes, each of which consists of 36 1.8 meter segments (see the Keck picture gallery). Evidently they don't use this image anymore, but I'm keeping it. I think it's cool.

The 10-meter Keck telescopes were the largest in the world when they were built in 1993. However, since 2009 the largest single aperture telescope in the world is the Gran Telescopio Canarias, in the Spanish Canary Islands. Their 10.4 meter primary is made like the Keck primary, out of 36 slightly larger segments. The largest effective aperture (excluding large optical interferometers) is the 11.8 meter effective aperture of the Large Binocular Telescope on Mt. Graham, in Arizona, which uses two 8.4 meter spin-cast primary mirrors to synthesize a single effective aperture.

Last partial update to this page: 6 November 2013. This page, at least, should be reasonably current now.