In short, I'm a software engineer by day and amateur astronomer by night. I am in my 30s and presently live in the bay area in California.
I got a PhD in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin. I was advised by Phil Morrison and co-advised by Mark Raizen. My thesis was on theoretical and experimental aspects of Brownian Motion in Liquids. I was very fortunate to work both on theoretical and experimental aspects of the same problem, picking up a diverse set of skills in the process. My publications are listed on Google Scholar. Despite specializing in my PhD, I like to think of myself as someone who is competent in many things, rather than a specialist that has a very specific field of expertise. I currently work as a software engineer with a focus on applying machine learning techniques to real-world product use-cases.
In my personal time, I have fun doing astronomy as a hobby, tinker around with Linux machines, learn some math, go hiking / car camping / road tripping / photographing, build small DIY things, write code (occasionally, although more so in 2020), process old photos, and work out.
A long while ago, I created a pipeline to auto-generate observation logbooks for deep-sky observing using KStars and LaTeX. The code isn't particularly clean or something I'm proud of, but I am definitely pleased with the results. Here is a link to The Logbook Project. The code is on my Github.
One of my recent projects has involved adapting plate solving to visual astronomy, by attaching a camera to my finder scope. Ever since I developed this system, I have stopped star-hopping. The system uses a combination of open-source plate-solving software and a custom private software stack integrating an NGS-POSS image server and an Arduino-based 9-axis IMU to provide a way to turn my telescope into a push-to system. Details can be found here.
Over the years, I have developed a DSS Query web tool, which is designed for amateur astronomers' needs: it resolves object names using SIMBAD and fetches DSS/SDSS images and allows you to adjust rotation to match your eyepiece view. Also can click on a position in the image and it will query SIMBAD to find the designation nearest to the cursor. It also makes querying other surveys like PanSTARRS, Hubble Legacy Archive etc. easier. It also makes annotating a DSS image with labels easy, so you can share it on forums etc.
I have also compiled a List of Peculiar Galaxies that I observed which showed interesting structure in the eyepiece of my 18" telescope.
You may contact me at akarsh at kde dot org