Waldemar's Home Page

Waldemar is GREAT!


About Me

Astrophysics Stuff

Audio & Music

Outdoors & Travel

Canoe Building

Medieval Stuff


About Me:

Welcome to my site! You will find here some information about me, as well as links to things of interest to me. I enjoy the outdoors, mountain biking, canoeing (and canoe building), backpacking, hiking, camping, travel and photography. I am also very interested in ancient and medieval history, Latin, chainmail construction, music and a bunch of other things.

One of my long time interests has been astronomy. I obtained my undergraduate in astrophysics from the University of Toronto, spending some time at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) working on theoretical cosmology. After my undergrad I went on to pursue graduate work in astrophysics at McMaster University where I worked under the supervision of Dr. W. Harris on galaxy formation and evolution using globular cluster systems. My doctoral work involved an observational project using the CFHT-IR camera and the near-infrared K-band, combined with older data from the HST. While I was a student at Mac, I frequently gave planetarium shows at the W.J. McCallion Planetarium, which you might want to check out if in the area.

I was born in a small Polish city called Jaroslaw, located in south-eastern Poland. It is a nice city, with many interesting and old historical buildings. Check out my Jaroslaw page if interested.


Astrophysics:

Below you can see some of the images that I have worked with during my M.Sc. These are HST images taken in the I-band of four Abell galaxy clusters (Abell 262, 3560, 3565 and 3742), centered on their brightest cluster galaxies - BCGs (in the PC1 chip). I used IRAF to combine a whole bunch of 'dirty' pictures into 'clean' ones that I can do something with, like subtract the light gradients from the frames due to the galaxies and detect stellar-like objects in the images. Actually, I was looking at globular cluster systems (GCSs) around these giant elliptical galaxies to gain insight into the evolution of galaxies... These four Abell clusters are small groups of galaxies, and are therefore interesting to look at, as most people study BCGs in large galaxy clusters such as Virgo, Coma or Fornax. I constructed plots for the density profiles of the globulars, the glabular cluster luminosity function (GCLF), luminosity distribution function (LDF) and the mass distribution function. I also found the total cluster populations and the specific frequencies. The results for these small galaxy clusters did not differ significantly from those of larger ones, indicating very similar formation mechanisms for their GCSs.

The first picture below is one of many that I used to stack. The end result is the nice clean second picture, with all the cosmic rays and bad pixels gone.

When I combine many pictures, I can make a pretty composite of them. Below are false-color mosaics that I made from HST images of the Abell clusters. The central GCGs in the PC1 chip (smaller square on top left in each image) are NGC 708, NGC 5193, IC 4296 and NGC 7014 respectively.

Finally, something interesting! After modelling the isophotes for the elliptical galaxy NGC 708, and subtracting them from the original image (on the left), the light of the bright cD galaxy is removed. We are left with clear picture of the interesting dust lane structure around the core of the galaxy (right image), indicating a history of accretion events in the recent past.

On Nov 3 2001 a massive Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) occured on the sun. Two days later it hit the earth, causing massive devastation; well, not really, but it did produce spectacular auroral activity which was observed as far south as Florida! Me and my friend (Marcel) took some pictures from a park in the city. I have some more pictures of auroras below in my canoe trip section under Killarney and Nepewassi Lake.

June 8, 2004. The first Venus Transit since 1882. It was already in progress since sunrise at our location in Hamilton... Out from 6am to 7:25am to witness this rare event with my own two eyes (and some solar filters, binocular projection and a telephoto lens...), I was very lucky to have totally clear skies; the next one will occur in 2012, and with luck, maybe I'll see the one in 2117 as well... :-)

In March of 2002 I had my first observing run at the Canada-France-Hawaii (CFHT) telescope on Mauna Kea (2002A) and in October of 2002 the second one (2002B). My last trip there was in February of 2003 (2003A). I was using the 3.6m telescope to obtain near-infrared K-band data for globular clusters around a number of galaxies. This data was used in conjuncion with optical V and I-band data from the HST-WFPC2 camera to construct improved metallicity and age distribution functions for the globular cluster systems. The pictures from these excting trips can be found here:

While I was in Hawaii using the near-infrared camera on the CFHT, I had some time to observe several "personal" targets. I have spend a total of one hour on one of my favorite targets, Abell 2151 in Hercules. This is the most distant galaxy cluster that I have observed in my own 8"" telescope. The first pic shows the whole field, and the second one a closeup of the top galaxy. The next pic shows NGC 2419, which is a globular cluster in Lynx, also the most distant globular of the Milky Way. Next is NGC 2392, also known as the Eskimo Nebula, which is a remnent of a dead star in Gemini - the furry-looking thing is the outer atmosphere of the now dead star, which is slowly expanding, along with the interesting and complex inner shell structure. Finally, NGC 6207, a small galaxy close to the globular M13 in Hercules; in my small telescope I can see both of them in the same field of view, however, the field of view of this camera is just 3.6'x3.6' (about 1/10 the diameter of the moon).

Some of my other astronomical interests include different types galaxies, clusters of galaxies and the fromation of structure in the universe, cosmology and particle physics, compact objects such as white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars and black holes. Also, I enjoy observing with my 8'' Dobsonian. Really dark skies and Abell clusters are my favorite these days, but I also like dim planetary and emission nebulae. I have actually observed several galaxies in Abell 262, the first of the four galaxy clusters which I studied for my M.Sc. Some of my favorite objects include Stephan's Quintet, the small and dim galaxies around NGC 7331 and M106, Abell 1656 (Coma cluster), and Abell 2151 in Hercules - which is about 0.5 billion light years (z~0.033) away!

Audio & Music: .

Life would be nothing without good music and good audio gear! I am very interested in both actually, and I really enjoy listening to my LPs and CDs on my rig at home. Good audio gear is the first step to really enjoying your music. Most people don't appreciate this fact, thinking for example that all CD players 'have to sound the same', just because they are digital, and also tend to think that the Japanese or famous audio compaines (such as Sony, JVC, Technics, Bose etc) are the best, and true hi-fi (high-fidelity). In reality however, all of these companies are only considered to be mid-fi. They make gear for the mass market, and don't pay attention to sound quality. If you really like music, you should do some reading before you buy audio gear. You don't have to be rich, just smart! Look into excellent companies such as Rotel, Marantz, Cambridge Audio, B&W, Mission or Paradigm, just to name a few, who make excellent products that sound way better than Japanese audio gear, and they cost the same or just a bit more. While most of these come from England, the really good stuff (often called high-end) comes from the US and Canada, and it does cost a lot of money. However, the differences in quality get smaller and smaller as you pay more and more, so its best to find something that you can afford, will enjoy, and spend the rest of your money on music!

The music I listen to varies, but it covers a wide range of styles; from classic metal and rock, to blues, jazz, instrumental and classical. From metal/rock I enjoy Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree. For more blues kind of stuff I listen to BB King, John Mayall or Dire Straits. When it comes to instrumental I especially enjoy Mike Oldfield, John and Vangelis, Vangelis, Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze and Andreas Vollenweider. From the jazz sector I find female vocal and piano jazz very nice; Shirley Horn, Patricia Barber, Diana Krall, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson and I also like older stuff by Gill Evans, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Sonny Rollins and many others. For classical, I enjoy choral works, especially Requiems, as well as chamber music of Barber, Brahms, Chopin, Schubert, Schumann and Rachmaninov to name a few. Below is a short list of some of my favorite music.


Dire Straits: Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms
Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin I
Pink Floyd: Meedle, The Dark Side of the Moon, Animals, The Wall, Final Cut
Porcupine Tree: The Sky Moves Sideways
B.B. King: Blues Summit
John Mayall:  Jazz Blues Fusion
Diana Krall: Stepping Out, Love Scenes
Louis Armstrong: What a Wonderful World
Shirley Horn:  I Remember Miles
Oscar Peterson: Oscar Peterson Meets Roy Hargrove and Ralph Moore
Jean Michel Jarre:  Oxygene, Magnetic Fields
Klaus Schulze: Timewind
Mike Oldfield: Tubular Bells, Crisis
John and Vangelis: Friends of Mr. Cairo, Short Stories
Vangelis: El Greco, 1492
Loreena McKennitt: The Mask and the Mirror
Barber: Cello Concerto and Sonata (Kirshabaum; Virgin)
Brahms: German Requiem (Naxos)
Dvorak & Herbert: Cello Concerti (Ma; Sony)
Bach: St. John Passion  (J.E. Gardiner; DG Archiv)
Mozart: Requiem  (Karajan; DG)
Rachmaninov: Symphonic Poems (Naxos), Piano Conserto #3 (Volodos; RCA)


Biking and Outdoor:

Well, music and school may be nice in the winter, but in the summer there are many things to do. I enjoy killing myself (usually my friends actually) on the trails. I also like racing bikes and hitting the road once in a while. Its fun going really fast on the road, and passing cars on downhills. However, I'll take mountain biking over road anytime - I just love getting away from roads, cars, concrete and people, and the forest is the place to be. There are some good trail around the Niagara Escarpment in Southern Ontario. Not the best of course, but many many hard rocks!

Check out some of my bike trips with my friends Alex and John (aka: Bullet Holes) a while back: Bike Rides

Like I said at the beginning, I also love going to the bush. Lets me get away from the depressing concrete of the city and its continious noise. Ontario may not have the best biking trails, but its certainly one of the best places in the world to go canoeing. I love the Temagami region, and also Chapleau. As long as there are more bears per square mile than people then I'm happy. Canoeing in northern Ontario is a great experience, and often you can go on for days without seeing anyone else. I really enjoy living outdoors, and moving from place to place everyday, seeing new things, and trying to stay alive. It gets rough, and the weather might not always be perfect, but I find that adds to the experience - bring it on Mother Nature !

Because I also enjoy photography, I take bunch of pictures on my trips. I will put up more over time as I venture to new places (and if I come out alive) Almost all of these were taken by me (except the ones that include me of course). I use an old SLR camera, and usually a 50mm lens. I also stick to Kodak (100) film, as I like it's grain and colours.

In May of 2000 I have attended the Canadian Astronomical Society conference (CASCA 2000) in Vancouver. This gave me a chance to see the mountains and the ocean for the first time, and to take more pictures (some of the ones on the below site were taken by my friend Marcel-the panoramic and of the pilots). Unfortunately, time was limited, and I didn't have a chance to go hike in the mountains, but I did see them! I stayed at Green's College at UBC, and had a chance to visit Stanley Park, Museum of Geology and the Museum of Anthropology, all of which were very interesting. UBC is very nice, and it is surrounded from one side by a forest, and the other by a nudist beach :-) In 2001 the conference was held (lucky me...) at McMaster.

In 2002 the CASCA conference was held in Penticton, BC. This gave me a great chance to go mountain biking! There are many awsome hilly trails around, with wonderful views on the Okanagan valley. Below you can see my pictures of the local scenery :-) We also had a tour of the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO), which is just south of Penticton.

In 2004 the CASCA conference was held in Winnipeg, MB. Not the best place to take nature pictures... However, my friend Scott and I managed to find a few old and interesting buildings at University of Manitoba and in town, and we shot them up a bit (with his digital camera...).

In December 2011 my sister Anna and me went on a week long vacation to Cuba. We had a fun time and since there was a coral reef just a few meters from the shore I did a fair bit of snorkeling. It was wonderful to experience the beauty of the ocean for the first time in this way!

In August 2013 my friend Alan and I headed off for the island of Ireland in search of castles, abbeys and Neolithic sites. It was an amazing trip with some fine Irish weather!

In August 2014 my friend Alan, his brother Andrew and I headed off for the Highlands in Scotland in search of more castles, Neolithic sites and pristine beaches. It was another amazing trip with some excellent weather for the most part! Scotla\ nd is my favourite place so far - it has a great mix of ancient and medieval si\ tes, beaches, mountains, hiking and camping. A great inspiration site that you\ may want to look at for hiking/camping there is Footprints Across Scotland .

In August 2016 my sister Anna and me did a great two week trip to Iceland. We camped in different spots each day and did a lot of hiking, swimming in geothermal pools, exploring around galciers and watching the northern lights!

In early August 2017 Alan, his brother Andrew and me did a fun nine day trip to Wales. We started in the south and worked our way west, stopping at many castle ruins and beaches. Then we headed north through Snowdonia into Lleyn Peninsula and finally Anglesey. We camped every night, taking us to some wonderful quiet places. Driving was a bit crazy with more traffic and very narrow roads, but that added to the fun, in the end! In early August 2019 Alan, his brother Andrew and me did an amazing trip to the Westfjords in Iceland. We drove on some crazy roads, camped at amazing beaches, visited many hot pools, battled winds, and enjoyed the solitude. We didn't see any northern lights on this trip as it never got dark during the "night", but even if it were dark, it usually was foggy at night. However, we got to see puffins! In early June 2023, my parents and I did a road trip to Calgary to visit my little sister. While there, we did some great trips into the mountains, to a beautiful canyon, a very interesting formation called hoodoos and to the the Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum. We also rented a cabin north of Jasper and I got to sleep in a tent among a herd of elks and mosquitos!


Canoes:

I used to build canoes and carve paddles for quite a few years when I was in school. My dad and I build ourselves a nice cedar-strip epoxy 16' Prospector a number of years ago, and we try to use and abuse it as often as possible. Building a wooden conoe is actually fairly simple, and it takes no longer than a week if you know what you're doing, and at most a few weeks if its your first one. They are a lot of fun to build, handle well, and sure look good on the water.


Medieval Stuff:

Being interested in history, I got interested in construcing mail armour (commonly called chainmail) thanks to one of my officemates. This is armour that was used throughout the middle ages, and even dating back to the Roman times. Such armour was very expensive back in the old days, mainly because of the labour involved in making it. It still takes a loooooong time to make a piece by hand today, but it's an interesting activity for the long winter months. You can see what I made so far on the page below.

I have also build some minatures of siege engines. So far I have only made a catapult and a ballista.


Warning: Site constantly under construction!