This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose. It is a desire written in the human heart. We are that part of creation which seeks to understand all creation. We find the best among us, send them forth into unmapped darkness, and pray they will return. They go in peace for all mankind, and all mankind is in their debt.

President G. W. Bush, 2/2003 Columbia space shuttle crew memorial

At the beginning of 2018, the US Defense Department maintained an estimated stockpile of 4,000 nuclear warheads for delivery by more than 800 ballistic missiles and aircraft. Most of the warheads in the stockpile are not deployed, but rather stored for potential upload onto missiles and aircraft if so decided. Many are destined for retirement. We estimate that approximately 1,800 warheads are currently deployed, of which roughly 1,650 strategic warheads are deployed on ballistic missiles and at bomber bases in the United States. Another 150 tactical bombs are deployed in Europe. The remaining warheads – approximately 2,200, or 55 percent of the total – are in storage as a so-called hedge against technical or geopolitical surprises. Several hundred of those warheads are scheduled to be retired before 2030.

In addition to the warheads in the Defense Department stockpile, approximately 2,550 retired but still intact warheads are stored under custody of the Energy Department and are awaiting dismantlement, for a total US inventory of roughly 6,550 warheads.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (

Plot the blast effects of modern thermonuclear weapons here

Gerald Cecil & Burch Field Seminar Students atop C. Pachon, Chile outside SOAR Telescope

Eclipse Aug. 2017 through 400 mm lens from 9800 ft altitude near Alta WY

Here are some of my professional interests

I'm executing science programs on the SOAR telescope that, as Project Scientist in Tucson, I once spent 3.5 years helping to design. Current programs are focused on the new T-spec IR spectrograph, recently commissioned on SOAR after moving from the Blanco telescope.

My students have learned ZEMAX and SolidWorks 3D CAD/CAM design tools, printed parts from those directly on our lab's large volume 3D printer, programmed servo motors, and designed/built surface-mount circuit boards, among other technical activities to support spectrograph modifications. We're exploring barred galaxy structure and dynamical evolution using integral-field spectrometers to analyze and model gas and stellar velocity fields, and ionization conditions. We've worked on numerical simulations of starburst outflows as part of a NASA-funded Herschel space Observatory program, and observations and models of Galactic (Herbig-Haro) and galaxy (superwind) outflows.

Here is my 9/19 talk at NOIRLAB (NOAO) Tucson on the powerful Seyfert flare 3.5 Myr ago from the Milky Way's central black hole that energized gas in the Magellanic Stream. That tidal stream is a transceiver of the flare.

I'm also working on diverse parts of the exciting SAMI Galaxy Survey, which used photonics instrumentation to map a dozen galaxies at once in a total sample of 3200 across the optical spectrum and over the one-degree field of view of the 3.9m Australian Astronomical Telescope (AAT). We mapped galaxies both in the field and in 8 clusters. Here is a colloquium I presented on SAMI at the South African Astronomical Observatory and NOIRLAB (NOAO, 4/16).

This example from my interface provides an overview of the SAMI data release 2 products. Information is extracted from deeper analysis, including stellar population mix, stellar and dynamical M/L, and chemical abundances. SAMI spans the inner 15-arcsec diameter of galaxies, the sample is at z = 0.050+-0.025 My initial focus has been on gas kinematics/dynamics of bar/oval distortions in some field galaxies and their derived rotation curves.

Zoomit test here.
I can be reached at
gerald AT thececils DOT org