Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Spectacular Jupiter!

While Jupiter is the Solar System's largest planet, it doesn't get closer to the Earth than about 400 million miles, about 4.3 times the Sun-Earth distance.  As a result, it appears pretty small, about 1/40th the diameter of the Moon, not much larger than a medium-sized lunar crater.  It is just visible as a tiny disk in a pair of binoculars, and to see any details, you need a pretty decent telescope, at least a 2" or 3" with moderate magnification to see the cloud belts and perhaps spot the Great Red Spot (GRS) - a giant cyclone three times larger than the earth that has been observed for nearly 400 years!  But while it lacks details in small telescopes, it is my favorite planet, because in a really good telescope, you can achieve views that approach spacecraft quality, and with its 9.7 hour day, details on the rotating disk are readily seen, as well as the even tinier disks of the moons, moving around Jupiter like a tiny solar system.

A friend of ours, Tom Polakis, recently outdid himself on an image of Jupiter While no stranger to planetary imaging, his image from Sunday evening is shown here at left.  While admittedly it was a night of "decent" seeing (the wavering of the atmosphere usually limits resolution) I think this might be his finest Jupiter shot.  He was actually observing it because the little moon Europa was transiting the disk, and he observed its ingress before deciding to image.  While easily visible when he saw it enter the left edge of the "limb darkened" edge (the edge of Jupiter appears darker because of its dense atmosphere), as it moved into the disk, it was much harder to see against the same-brightness band it had entered.  The image at right shows Europa's location pointed out (still difficult to make out against belt detail), as well as the GRS.  The image is shown as it appears in the sky with North up and East to the left.

A few comments on how he gets these incredible images.  His workhorse telescope for these is a 10" Newtonian, of 55" focal length, using a 2.5X extender to enlarge the image a bit.  He uses what is called "webcam" techniques, where video frames are taken in quick succession.  While in the last decade and a half, amateurs have successfully used actual webcams for these images, newer cameras with rapid video frame rates are currently in vogue.  In this case, he uses a monochrome (B&W) camera, so to get a color image he needs to shoot image sequences through red, green and blue filters.  Because Jupiter rotates so quickly, this has to be done in less than a few minutes.  For these images, his usual routine is to take 1,000 images in each color, and uses a freeware program called Registax to discard the worst of the images, and slightly shift and align the remaining images (correcting for shifts caused by seeing)for a final high-resolution image for each color, then assemble the final color image.  He is currently about to upgrade to a new camera that has a bigger sensor, is more sensitive, takes data faster, and is less expensive than the camera he's used the last 7 years!  He must be doing something right - whenever you are getting details inside the GRS, you are doing pretty well!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Backyard Observatory Project!

In recent years, I've been thinking more of building a back yard observatory.  While Tucson skies are okay for a city of nearly 1 million (brightest part of the Milky Way just visible on dry nights), it just isn't suitable for dark sky observing.  But there have been lots of times that I've wished there was a ready access scope for checking out a planet or lunar view.  It is a real pain to set up a scope out of the house or van, then have to put it away again afterwards.  A couple years ago, I even obtained a telescope from the estate of a telescope-maker north of Phoenix - a 12.5" Cassegrain, perfect for such applications.  It has patiently been waiting for its moment in storage for construction of a structure.  Our back yard is a little small, though, so have been giving some thought to what to build.  While one where the roof rolls off is straightforward to build, the supports and frame for the roof while it is off the building automatically doubles the footprint.  A dome might be nice, but are expensive in larger sizes, and I dislike the restrictive sky view out of a dome slit.  What other options are there?

A friend of mine, David Oesper built a really neat observatory design a couple decades ago.  It was featured in Sky and Telescope magazine in May of 1993, and the photograph shown here is from that article.  The roof panels roll down a rail, while supported by a pivoting strut and counterbalanced with weights inside the structure.  David is shown here at left with daughter Julie (now grown) and their builder Andy Orngard who came up with the design.  It has no structure outside the building when closed, which fits my desire.  However, the steep roof angle isn't needed in Tucson (no snow or ice), and I couldn't figure how to modify it to work with a shallower roof.  Another good feature of this design is keeping one side of the observatory up to keep out wind or an obnoxious light.

So I was thinking of something similar but wanted to go larger because of the larger scope and having room for a friend or two.  I gave up the rails and tried running off  pivoting struts.  Using paper and cardboard models in 2D only get you so far, so I decided to make a scale model out of wood, about 1:12.  This is what I came up with...  Shown at left with the roof closed, it is 10X10 feet inside clearance, and the outer walls are 5.5 feet high, with the peak of the roof 8 feet high when closed.  With the roof open, as shown at right, the 2 struts per side rotate the panels up and out alongside the building, providing good horizons in all directions.  The little stick figure is nearly to scale for a 5 foot tall person w/a 3" refractor.  The roof sections reach a balance point about half way open, so like David's design, would need a counterweight system to aid in starting it opening, and to catch it as it reaches its open limit.

A shown in these pictures, it also works, like David's with one of the roof panels either partially open or closed altogether.  Although not shown well, the pair of struts do NOT work off the same pivot.  Different pivots points and strut lengths are needed to get the roof moving up off the walls, fully clear the rear wall and then to stay close to the wall when it is open.  The struts would scale directly to a full-size building, perhaps aluminum bar stock 4" to 6" wide and 3/4" thick or so.  The weight of the roof panels rests on the rear wall via the inside strut when fully open.  Pivot axes made of 1" steel shafts could be made into an angle-iron bracket to be fastened to studs in the wall for strength and security.  And though I haven't figured out a door yet, the 5+ foot tall walls should allow easy access from outside.

Not wanting to rush into anything, I'll likely dig a hole and put in the telescope pier first, get the mounting installed, and perhaps even the telescope too before building the observatory around it.  But I think the design has possibilities.  If any of you see why it won't work, let me know or come by and play with my little model with me!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Glass Recycling...

No, probably not the kind of glass recycling you are thinking of - the empty beer and wine bottles you put curbside for recycling...  I'm thinking the camera lenses that you used to use with your old camera, somehow fitting on your new camera.  Remember film?  Back a generation or two ago, going back to high school, I had an old Pentax Spotmatic with screw-mount lenses.  Then about 20 years ago when I got back into astro-photography, I upgraded to a couple manual Nikon cameras and had a pretty good collection of Nikon lenses mostly culled from the twice-annual camera swap meets we had in Tucson.  Then just about 12 years ago as film was on the way out, I scored some eBay bargains in a medium-format Pentax 6X7cm with larger negatives for more detail.  I'm not sure I shot more than a couple rolls of film, but I still had a few lenses from their system.

Well here I am in 2014 with a Canon XSi DSLR with APS sensor and EF lens mount.  Normally I'd need to invest in an entirely new lens system.  And for all-around shots, I highly encourage that, taking advantage of autofocus, various exposure modes, and fully taking advantage of all the camera features.  But for astronomical applications, where long exposures and focal lengths are desired, the camera can be easily adapted to telescopes.  And interestingly enough, all the lens systems I've mentioned above can also be used with my Canon camera!  And another item to note, many lenses from these film days systems can be had for real bargain prices on Ebay!

Take a look at various camera's flange-to-focus measurements.  It lists the distance from where the lens attaches to the detector focus.  The Canon EF mount is near the middle with 44.0mm.  Interestingly, all the lenses above, the ole' Nikon F (46.5mm), Pentax screw (M42 - 45.46mm), and Pentax 6X7 (84.95mm), all with longer flange-to-focus can be used with my Canon with the appropriate adaptor!  The disadvantage of these adaptors is that you must focus manually, as well as shoot aperture priority (manual aperture setting).  But for long-exposure astronomical imaging, who cares - you focus near the beginning of the night and checking occasionally is all you need.

I've had an adaptor to use my Nikon lenses on my Canon body for years.  It has literally saved me thousands of dollars to use my old lenses - the fisheyes, fast telephotos and wide angle lenses I've collected.  All these adaptors are found on E-bay, and just recently, after hearing good things about Pentax 6X7 lenses for astronomy, I ordered a $45 adaptor from E-bay.  Of course, my order went to Hong Kong, and my shipment got caught up in the Chinese New Year, so it took a full 2 weeks to arrive, and when it did, as shown at left, there was some concern it survived the trip, but it appears to work fine. At right my Canon XSi body is shown at right, the Pentax 6X7 with the 165mm lens is humongous in comparison, and the new black adaptor is shown next to the lens. The Nikon lenses at left use the silver adaptor near them to go on the Canon body.

So with the new adaptor and lenses I hadn't used in over a decade, I had to go on an expedition! At the end of a work day, I loaded up the 3 Pentax lenses I had, a sturdy tripod, adaptor and lots of other gear for a sunset tour of downtown Tucson from "A" Mountain. The adaptor fits the Canon and Pentax lenses well and seem very snug. With the 165mm focal length, and some of the longish exposures used in deepening twilight, I used mirror lockup and a 2 second delay to minimize vibration. Fortunately, the adaptor has a threaded tripod adaptor near the center of gravity, which seems to work well.

First up in twilight, a stereo pair of downtown
seemed a natural, so used the 105mm Pentax lens for a pair of images of downtown taken about 40 meters separation and about a minute apart.  They are oriented here for cross-eyed viewing.  Cross your eyes slightly to look at the right image with your left eye and vice-versa.  You should see 3 images, the center one of which should show stereo depth.  It is easier to practice on the thumbnail before clicking on it to load the full-size version.  Most of the frames are included in the left pair, and just the center section is in the right pair for higher resolution...

As it got a little darker and the light levels
stabilized, I took a 12-frame mosaic with the 165mm lens.  The assemblage was put together with Microsoft ICE a free mosaic assembler that had no issues with the data set.  Of course, the big advantage of a mosaic like this is while you have a wide image, you maintain the fine resolution of the original frames.  Shown at left, it is VERY much reduced in resolution from the mosaic, nearly a factor of 10 in pixel width, because of the 1600-pixel-wide resolution limit of blogger.  I think the mosaic is quite marvelous as I can't see any signs of vignetting or shadowing where the edges of pictures come together.  I did not shoot wide open, but rather at F/5.6, mostly to decrease chromatic aberration.  Of course, since the Pentax 6X7 lenses were designed for a much larger format, the thinking is that the illumination is "flatter" and vignetting would be reduced naturally...  Something closer to the full resolution is shown at right, of the Bank of America Building at right (about 1.5 miles distant), to the University Medical Center at left (about 3.2 miles), and the Marriot Hotel on the west side of UA campus.

The sharp-eyed among you might have noticed a bluish "V" on the southern side of the Pima County Legal Services (formerly Tucson Federal Building).  Fortunately I had also packed the little Meade 80mm F/6 triplet APO and did a closeup examination of the "V" which easily showed up in a couple second exposure, but I couldn't quite see it with naked eye.  So of course, I do another 12-frame mosaic with the equivalent 480mm focal length lens, the reduced-resolution result of which is shown at left.  Looking at the full-size mosaic, you can spot the variable image quality from the center to the edges of the individual frames, but it is less obvious here in this image.  I had no clue what the "V" was - it is shown at right at something closer to full camera resolution.  So now I can spot the "Modern Thai" that is projected onto the side of the building - Googling that returned with "V Modern Thai", a hip Thai restaurant near that block.  So it is just advertising...  Projected from near ground level, from my vantage on "A" Mountain, you can see the discontinuity caused by the offset in the south side of the building...

Since I had the little telescope out, it is always fun to go hunting in the dark for the old classic Pima County Courthouse with the tiled dome, surrounded by modern crackerjack buildings.  I couldn't spot it in the darkness, but using one of the camera exposures as guides, it was just above the DeConcini Courthouse Building from my vantage point.  A 5 second exposure is shown at left, and though not visible at all to the naked eye in the dark, details in the tile roof mosaic can be seen even in the small telescope image...

Well that is enough for now - at least I demonstrated that the ole' Pentax lenses work well with the new adaptor.  It remains to be seen if they work as well for astronomy where they will be used closer to wide open to collect more light.  Tiny errors in imaging quality or color correction will be enough to only make them useful when stopped down, less valuable for stars...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Prodigal Son Returns, But...

The Prodigal Son returns, but we no longer speak its language...  The story came from the always interesting blog of Emily Lackdawalla a few days ago.  The spacecraft known as the International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3), launched in 1978 and repurposed in 1983 to study a pair of comets, then named the International Cometary Explorer (ICE), is returning to Earth's vicinity.  She reports that though a dozen of 13 instruments continue to operate, and it still has maneuvering fuel, at NASA's investigation into a possible repurposing of it, Goddard Spacecraft Center indicates we can no longer communicate with it.  Obviously the standards for radio signals has changed in those decades and the hardware needed to upload information to the spacecraft was retired and surplused in 1999.  The cost to rebuild new hardware to speak in an obsolete standard was determined to be too high to consider. 

So while it listens for instructions as it approaches the Earth, we won't be able to talk to it.  Interestingly, if it is ever recovered, NASA has already donated it to the Air and Space Museum, but that would require extraordinary effort as well.  As a long-term fan of spaceflight, it is sad to see it happen, but I'm amazed it hasn't happened before.  How many of you can download software for your computer from 3.5" floppies which was the standard just 15 years ago?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

60 Years of Amateur Astronomy in Tucson!

The Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association turns 60 years old this spring!  I've been an active member for nearly half that time, since shortly after leaving the employ of Kitt Peak in the mid-80s.  Back in the '90s I also served on the executive board, including a stint as President.  It has been a great organization - I've got lots of friends and today was a good day to get together and celebrate another decade of togetherness under the stars.  Besides a buffet line and a program, there was cake - a pair merged together into the picture at right...  Though barely resolved in this image, co-organizer Liz Kalas points out that the gold speckles are edible stars!

We had pretty good turnout - I'm guessing 60 or more ponied up the cash for the food and facility - it was held at the Michael Drake building.  This off-campus building was used at mission control for the Phoenix polar Mars lander, and is currently serving as laboratory for the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission.  We even had members from out-of-state attend!  Shown at left standing is Thom Peck, who travelled with wife Twila from San Diego, and to his right is Teresa and Claude Plymate, who now live in Big Bear.  Sitting at left is Robert Wilson.

One of the really neat displays in the public area (besides displays of planetary exploration you would expect from one of the Lunar and Planetary Lab's outbuildings) was an incredible display of meteorites.  Dolores Hill (more on her in a minute) pointed out that the display did not belong to LPL or the University, but was actually a private collection on temporary loan.  Display cases around the room showed hundreds of examples, from iron meteorites displaying the Widmanst├Ątten pattern at left, to my favorite - pallasites, which have olivine crystals imbedded in the iron-nickel matrix, shown at right.  I am always impressed that the crystals are nearly optical quality, yet imbedded in iron-nickel!

Then, turning around, there is an amazing 950 pound (430 kg) example, sawn in half for close inspection!   Shown here, long-time member Molly Hancock touches the polished (and lacquered to protect it) surface (she was afraid to until I insisted for the picture).  And another close-up is shown at right...

We had a nice time visiting and looking through
the displays before our pair of speakers were announced.  Melinda didn't feel well enough to attend, so everyone she knew wanted to know how she was doing.  John Kalas served as co-organizer, and introduced former Presidents Tim Hunter (UMC radiologist and co-founder of the International Dark-Sky Association) and David Levy (author and comet discoverer) to introduce the speakers after giving short presentations themselves.  Tim Hunter (shown at left) gave a time-line and history of the club that had been organized by the late Ron Ferdie, another former President.  Tim then introduced Dolores Hill, who has worked for many years in LPL's meteorite lab, and is now active in the OSIRIS-REx mission.  The mission acronym stands for the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer, and it is intended to rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu, spend time mapping and analyzing the 500 meter diameter object, then touch the surface and collecting at least a few ounces of material to return to Earth.  Dolores tried to recruit amateur astronomers to help the professionals in collecting imaging data to measure properties of the 600,000 known asteroids...

Finally, David Levy talked for a few minutes before introducing Dr. Thomas Fleming of Steward Observatory.  Dr. Fleming covered the history of astronomy in Arizona from A.E.Douglas' search for the eventual location in Flagstaff of Lowell Observatory, and Douglas' establishment of the astronomy department at the university of Arizona which eventually became Steward Observatory.  He went on to point out how Steward helped out in the selection of Kitt Peak National Observatory, and closed out with the several mountaintop observatories (Mount Lemmon, Mount Hopkins, and Mount Graham) that Steward helped found that keep Arizona in the forefront of astronomy. 

The speakers were great, it was nice to get together with friends and acquaintances over the years, and the displays and location were very impressive as well.  It is too bad we have to wait ten years to hold these events!

Melinda Gets A Celebrity Shout-Out!

Well, "celebrity" is in the eye of the beholder, I guess, but Phil Plait is an astronomical celebrity.  Besides several books, including his breakout "Bad Astronomy" where he debunks many astronomical myths and misconceptions, he also writes a daily blog called "Bad Astronomy" for Slate

About a week ago, he wrote a post about taking a short video clip of the sun, and from the appearance of the contrail, surmised he had just missed the jet crossing the sun's disk.  I sent him an e-mail telling him if he wanted to see a real catch, to check out Melinda's image of an F-18 crossing the sun taken moments before the annual solar eclipse in May of 2012 at the Grand Canyon.  That image, shown here, blew his mind - his response: "That. Is. Amazing. ", and wanted to use it in his blog.  So today, Melinda got her shout-out on the Bad Astronomy blog. Of course, we had blogged about that shot when it was first taken - Melinda was doing some test shots with a 210mm focal length zoom, and by luck just happened to catch it.  The shot is a full-resolution crop, because that focal length doesn't provide much image size, but the 1/2000 second exposure froze the jet's motion for a great shot... 

Phil's blog on Slate is one of my daily reads.  Not only does he argue against the noise against global warming and for intelligent design, but as a former teacher and scientist, explains the observations of the world he and other readers make.  A recent example was refuting some YouTube yahoos saying that the recent snowfall in the Atlanta area wasn't snow because a snowball wouldn't melt, and, in fact smoked when held against a lighter!  He made his own video showing that the melted snow was reabsorbed by the snowball and the smoke was from unburned hydrocarbons from the lighter.  So add him to your list of daily readings and join in.  Yaay Phil - get after 'em!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Patient is Home and Resting Comfortably!

After a week at our University Medical Center, all of a sudden there was a flurry of activity to get her moved out and sent home!  She had her gastroscopy on Wednesday, and, no surprise, showed that her esophagus was inflamed from radiation burns.  Besides the inflammation, she also had a pair of non-bleeding ulcers also from radiation.  Mostly it will need time to heal.  Unfortunately nothing they could offer was able to really take the pain from swallowing away, and it finally started to moderate the day of the procedure.  Then, likely the endoscopy itself caused its own pain, and her improvement is sort of on hold for the moment.  So now when she swallows, the pain is an "8" instead of the "10" she had her first days in the hospital.  But she is able to sip water and tonight had a yogurt.  After the weekend we'll head back to the Cancer Center for IV fluids and a check to make sure her improvement continues.

So she is home getting reacquainted with the cats!  In the picture at left, she is surrounded by Hootie, the black cat to her right, and Annie on the left.  Annie gets mats in her fur, so got a clip job just a few weeks ago, so looks a little funny with her fuzz growing out, yet sporting a mane that the groomer left.  And speaking of fuzz, I think this is Melinda's first picture showing her hair growing out, though it too is starting to fall out from chemo round 7 that she got 2 weeks ago...  You just can't win with all these treatments going on.  There was some talk of it coming out anyway with her full-brain radiation which is still coming up, but someday it will be back!  And as for further treatments, the plan is to let her off all of next week for recovery, then a "remapping" to try to minimize further damage to her esophagus before the second half of her chest treatments, then on to the brain treatments.  A bit of a delay this last week, but we're still in it for the long haul!

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Pause in Progress...

Regular readers might have noticed that I've been absent...  The reason is that I've been away - staying near Melinda who was admitted 4 nights ago to the University Medical Center.  Between long hours at her bedside, a couple hours a day with cat chores, and a few hours to sleep, there hasn't been blogging time.  We also agreed we didn't need to blog about her stay till we knew more about what was going on, but time to let you know.

While the radiation treatments started out fine, the addition of chemo introduced side-effects that weren't a bother to her during her earlier cycles of chemo alone.  Starting about a week into the radiation, she developed a sore throat (the largest tumor location they are treating is very near her esophagus).  It was not totally unexpected, but got so bad by last Thursday not only could she not eat soft food, but any food at all, or even drink and swallow water.  We went to the Cancer Center last Friday for fluid infusion to keep her hydrated.  After blood tests showed her white blood count (WBC) had crashed to extremely low levels, it was decided that she should be admitted to the hospital that afternoon (7 February) for care.

While UMC care is exceedingly good, going in late on a Friday isn't always a good idea.  With the weekend, fill-in doctors not aware of her complications always seem to put off specific plans of action till the new weeks starts, and that was the case.  IV pain meds over the weekend couldn't touch her sore throat pain, so she is still off food and water, but getting fluids via IV as well.  Her WBC is still exceedingly low making her an infection risk, so she's been getting some strong antibiotics as well.  They've transfused a unit of blood and platelets, but the effects were short-lived.  They took her off her blood thinners (we're both on Coumadin for different reasons), and are using an injectable version so she can tolerate a gastroscopy to see what is going on.  They'll also give her another unit of platelets before hand to prevent bleeding if they scratch her esophagus.  So we'll know more after tomorrow, but that is what has been going on.  No serious talk of a stomach tube yet for feeding, perhaps after tomorrow's procedure, or when we have a cause for her symptoms.  Of course, she is off radiation treatments for now, but likely just delayed until she feels better.  So her future treatment plan is still uncertain.   Friends local to Tucson should not rush to visit as infection is still a fear - and the oncology ward doesn't allow food, plants or flowers.  So send best wishes from afar for now and stay tuned for news!

UPDATE: Melinda's gastroscopy was, for various reasons, pushed back to today (Wed.).  She got two units of platelets, and her WBC has tripled from her low.  Best, her throat feels better and her pain has moderated from even earlier yesterday.  She was able to tackle a bowl of broth last night before she went NPO for today's procedure.  All good news!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Long Week of Treatments Completed!

Melinda's "long week" of treatments is finally over!  Her radiation treatments for her small-cell lung cancer started the week before on 23 January.  Her doctor has her on two treatments per day, at 8am and again at 4pm for maximum effectiveness.  When that started we were kind of surprised to learn that in addition, they scheduled another round of chemo to increase the effectiveness of the radiation.  We thought she had graduated from chemo last December, but no, 3 more days this last week.  What's worse, the first day always is a dual infusion, Carboplatin and Etoposide, so last Monday, 27 January, we had her first radiation at 8am at University Medical Center (UMC), blood labs up the street at the Cancer Center, infusion of the 2 chemo drugs, then with about 20 minutes to spare, back to UMC for her second radiation.  Not the way you want to spend 9 hours away from home!  Tuesday and Wednesday were slightly better with the chemo infusion of only the Etoposide.  Thursday and Friday were duck soup with only the 2 radiation treatments - time for naps between trips to UMC!

Since they won't let me past the waiting room where she gets her radiation treatments, Melinda brought in my camera to take a few pictures for the blog.  High-energy radiation, by the way, kills both cancer cells and normal cells alike by disrupting their DNA.  Since cancer cells divide more frequently than normal cells, they are more sensitive to radiation. The device which outputs the radiation is shown at upper left.  While there are 4 machines (to treat 4 patients at once), she only gets treatments from this one, called Varian, after the manufacturer.  Part of the waiting room is shown at left, complete with computers for patient use and reading materials.  In her week+ of experience so far, she has only had to wait past her appointment once (about an hour) when there were issues with one of the patients before her.  At right her tech took her picture once she had climbed into the bed.  She lies onto a custom-fitted form that was built-up her first appointment for proper positioning for the treatments.  The bed moves in-out towards the machine, and the head rotates around to give maximum dosage to the 6 locations she has treated...

Another view at left with a better view of her positioning.  Of course, the tech operates the machine from another room - Melinda is alone for the treatments, her feet tied down at the base, and her hands clasping the handle over her head for the 15 minute treatment. 

She had some pretty severe nausea after the chemo - worse even that her 6 rounds over the Fall.  She is slightly better today, so hopefully that part is behind her.  She is feeling some of the effects of the radiation - some reddening of the skin, and a sore throat (near one of the treatment areas).  She has 2 more weeks of the 2-a-days for chest radiation, then will likely have a couple weeks of Prophylactic cranial irradiation (PCI), a preventative treatment to kill cancer cells that may already be in her brain but are undetectable in scans.

So while not out-of-the-woods yet as the treatments continue, this last week of both radiation and chemo is now past, with perhaps another month of radiation treatments to go.  Fingers crossed that all will continue well!