Department of Astronomy Center for Radiophysics & Space Research

When you arrive...

Ford handed the book to Arthur.
"What is it?" asked Arther.
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's a sort of electronic book. It tells you everything you need to know about anything. That's its job."
Arthur turned it over nervously in his hands.
"I like the cover," he said. "Don't Panic. It's the first helpful or intelligible think anybody's said to me all day."

-- Douglas Adams, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

What follows is a list of suggestions for things you might want to do when you first come into Space Sciences. If you never read this and/or just show up nothing bad will happen, but this might help:


If you're arriving early in the summer . . .


If you're getting paid over this first summer (typically because you have an outside fellowship), you must go to Caldwell Hall to register with the Graduate School -- this makes you an official Cornell student. If you want a Cornell photo ID, it's a good idea to get registered first. Also, you won't have a department mailbox until late in the summer, so be sure to log on to uPortal to update the mailing address(es) that Cornell has on file for you.


Getting involved upon arrival:


During the week before classes and the first weeks of classes the graduate school organizes various information sessions and social events; particularly useful are the sessions on health insurance and the student counseling service. A good opportunity to meet students from other departments are the Gorges Hike and Ithaca by Night. Finally, don't miss Tell Grads Its Friday (TGIF) every Friday evening at the Big Red Barn (which is that big, red barn right across from Space Sciences): free soda (or pop), chips and cheap beer.


Your first visit to the building:



  1. If you have any questions, Monica Armstrong and Danielle O'Connor in the front office can (and will) help you with almost anything.
  2. You will have been assigned an office, but it might not be ready yet, especially since the previous tenant might not have moved out. See Monica or Danielle in room 104 (first on the left after the main entrance) to pick up a key. You should also get a building key which will give you access to the building, which is locked after 4:30 pm and on weekends. The keys require a small cash deposit of $2 each.
  3. With the office comes a mailbox, located in the room opposite the elevator on the first floor (room 101). The mailboxes are arranged by office number. You should check this regularly for official mail.
  4. Why not go to your office and lay claim to/find out which desk is yours? You might find some people there who are looking forward to meeting you (ie. your office mates).
  5. Computers/email: email Tom Shannon (in room 404) for a computer account on the astronomy network. There's also a form that lets you sign up online. You can choose what your username will be (within reason: traditionally 8 letters of your last name are used). Note that this account is independent of your Cornell NetID, where some official Cornell mail is sent. You can set up your NetID to forward email to the astro account, if you so choose - you do need to read email at both.

    There are some public computers on the sixth floor (Rapier, Scimitar, and Katana) that you can use. We also have the Undergraduate Hewitt lab facility on the 4th floor, which might be your best bet for finding a computer to use at first. Graduate students may use this when it is not filled up by undergraduates. See here for information on how to get an account for that system, which also has some windows machines (unlike the astro network). Access to the lab requires your Cornell ID as a key. Talk to Dan Wilcox in 111 Space Sciences for access to this room.
  6. If you have a laptop computer, you may connect with DHCP in your office through the normal ethernet connection or with the wireless network in the building. Talk to Tom Shannon (404 SS) for UNIX and Dan Wilcox (111 SS) for Windows/Mac troubleshooting.
  7. Join the graduate students for lunch around 12:30, at the picnic benches on the lawn outside (or in room 105 if it is raining). We're usually out there every day, and we're all looking forward to meeting you.
  8. You might be wondering how you get paid. If you are going to be a Teaching Assistant (TA), ask Danielle (Room 104) about this. You can also sign up for direct deposit of your pay checks (highly recommended) with her. If you have a Fellowship then you should wander over to the Graduate School (which is in Caldwell Hall) where they probably have a check waiting for you. Don't spend it all at once! :) TAs are paid twice a month, on the 15th and the 30th. Internal fellowships usually get a big chunk each semester, while the payment of outside fellowships varies. If you're receiving an outside fellowship, make sure you understand your tax responsibility; you may need to be filing quarterly estimated taxes.
  9. If you are going to be a TA, you should talk to the Professer(s) and senior TAs teaching that class. They can answer your questions and let you know what's going on. If you don't know what class you will be TA'ing, talk to Sherry Falletta (room 610).
  10. Another thing you might want to do (within the first few days of classes at least) is talk to various members of the first year committee to hear suggestions about classes you should take. You DO NOT need to worry about signing up for classes right away, but it might help to get some ideas. You should be told who the committee is at some point, but if you don't, the Director of Graduate Studies -- currently Jim Bell -- can help you.
  11. MOST IMPORTANTLY: talk to us! We want to meet you and most of us will be happy to stop whatever we are doing to do that.