Friday, October 22, 2010

observing: the story via twitter

some of you may use twitter, and some of you may not see the point of trying to communicate thru 140 character phrases. personally, i find twitter to be entertaining, interesting, and quite useful in my professional life. my opinion is that twitter can be worthwhile for anyone, you just have to follow only those people who post things of interest to you and ignore everyone else!

anyway, i have tweeted consistently throughout this observing run on mauna kea and i think those tweets tell a unique play-by-play story of the experience that i have not otherwise captured on this blog. each line is a single twitter entry. so you know, hashtags (#) are used to organize and identify various topics throughout twitter, and i've left them in this compilation... i hope you enjoy!


i'm sitting in hilo surrounded by big-leaf plants and incredibly loud chirpy creatures!

breakfast of fresh papaya, fruit juice, and smooth kona coffee while watching the rescue of chilean miners.

i have a few hours this morning before i head up to mauna kea. i'm going to go swim with turtles, obviously.

sitting in hale pohaku at 9000 ft feeling a bit wobbly... and tired even though the sun hasnt set yet and i want to stay up past 2 am...?

wow, i just blew my nose and got incredibly light headed. high altitude does funny things to the body.

i've managed to stay awake past 1 am.... running out of things to do. what should i watch online?

NIGHT 1 AT SUMMIT (14000 ft)

managed to sleep for ten hours! now i'm excited to get to the summit, but still have to wait a few hours. work until dinner.

sitting at the summit of mauna kea! clouds make for a crappy observing night, but a lovely sunset. i'm feeling ok at 14000ft... for now!

in a hole right now/ clouds are on the horizon/ will be a long night #observinghaiku

major clouds, sucker holes, dying computers, and high-altitude wooziness - time for night lunch.

what we're trying to do is find find loads of new distant galaxies, but the clouds are not letting us!! :(

on an extinct volcano: (blog post with pictures)

no wonder y'all are so quiet... its saturday. weekend observing is the worst. no, marginal weather observing is the worst. d'oh!

it takes water a long time to boil up here, and the kettle doesnt seem to know when its boiling!

the computers here talk to us sometimes: the male voice is like stephen hawking, but the female voice has a realistic british accent. huh?

oh no! i assumed lost season 6 was on hulu and i could watch it while observing... but its not! foiled.

the bad weather is holding steady :( we'll wait for 1.5 hrs more then head down.... unless the clouds clear, of course.

"Being a graduate student is like becoming all of the Seven Dwarves. In the beginning you're Dopey and Bashful."

"In the middle, you are usually sick (Sneezy), tired (Sleepy), and irritable (Grumpy)."

"But at the end, they call you Doc, and then you're Happy."


slept like crap; woke up in a thick cloud. should be an interesting and long night.

uh- oh. i'm bored and we're scheduled to be up here for another 8 hours.

my partner in astronomical crime for the evening just offered to make cappuccinos. divine.

meanwhile, we're collecting data in hopes of finding the smallest stars and/or the most distant quasars!

just went outside for ten minutes and saw six meteors whiz across the sky! its a crisp, cool, clear night illuminated by a bright moon.

also, i thought gemini's adaptive optics laser was green, but it looks red tonight...? ( ) anyone know?

i'm watching old josephine baker clips on youtube to stay awake.... wow could she dance!

clouds just came rushing in incredibly fast. guess thats it.... shutting down, packing up, and heading down the mountain.


the doorbell just rang. who knew observatories had doorbells?!?

ringing the doorbell was a lovely (~70 yr old?) aussie who claimed to be an "astronomy student" and asked politely to see the telescope.

so far every system we are using has failed and needed fixing... we've been in the dome for 27 minutes. we good for the night? or doomed?

"panspermia" is an oddly descriptive name for what it means

the telescope is touchy tonight.

clouds over mauna kea make for very frustrating observing, but absolutely gorgeous sunsets!

really bright star in this field whose light is reflecting all over inside the scope, causing crazy light streaks and artifacts. offset!!

the humidity has risen above 75%.... closing the dome for a bit to see if it drops again.

the gauge currently measures 102.5% humidity. hmmmm...

still over 100% humidity. dome is frozen in place. packin it up and callin it a night.


just woke up after a good sleep. getting ready to eat dinner - weather at the summit doesnt look good: humidity, high wind, maybe snow?!!

there's always potential for a random reunion when observing at mauna kea. my undergraduate professor is here!

visibility is about 30 ft at most on top of mauna kea right now. poor tourists wont get much of a sunset.

random reunion: at dinner i saw jonathan fay who i met last year at @dotastronomy in holland!?! #dotastro #smalluniverse

stuck in a cloud and this room ( ) for at least 7 more hours, unless the road starts to freeze and we have to descend.

the weather is teasing us now.... humidity has dropped to 90%, where it sits. we cant open until its consistently below 75%.

clouds have cleared, humidity has dropped, the air is still.... let the data collection commence!

looks like we will be up here all night after all.... time to make use of the super fancy espresso machine!!

it turns out 3 am at 14000 ft is not the best time to try to learn a new program.

was a mistake to leave my night lunch out in nature's refrigerator. its below freezing. d'oh!

soggy sandwiches and frozen fruit.

looks like we'll be working straight to the sunrise. thats a full 14 hour work night. #worthit


well, after the 14 hour work night, i slept 8.5 hrs and was woken up by my alarm clock so i could make it to dinner in time! whew!

its 5pm tuesday evening here, and 2 pm wednesday afternoon for collaborators in australia. what is "tomorrow" ?

cant say i was terribly impressed by the dinner offered tonight at hale pohaku. oh well, it will be another lovely sunset from the summit!

i keep asking "how faint" is it? he keeps telling me "how bright" it is. is this the astronomical "glass half full" conundrum?

clouds swept up over the mountain incredibly fast! we're sitting in supersaturated air, again. guess that means i should do real work...

it's as if we're Li'l Abner's Joe Btfsplk with this rain cloud perched above us!

ugh, i have a headache tonight. is the altitude finally getting to me? or am i sick of trying to finish this paper i'm working on?

so far this evening the humidity has ranged from 3.4% to 105.8%. crazy clouds.


last night on the mountain! clouds are wild, but hopefully they clear enough to let me see some orionids later!

right now the earth is passing thru the debris left by halley's comet, resulting in the orionid metoer shower. too bad the moon is ~full

collecting data for the first time in three nights. woohoo!!

when we are focusing the telescope to see if conditions are good enough to observe, sometimes i get the urge to yell "survey says...!"

mauna kea always offers interesting views:

the moon is SO bright! watched for 10 minutes and only saw two orionid meteors near peak hour.

just found two instances in this paper where i typed "in this pork" instead of "in this work." the 1st really confused me!

nope. i cant see/find comet hartley with binoculars or IR monocular :( i blame the moon.

the full moon finally set, so i went outside to see several orionid meteors and to say goodbye to the stars of the northern hemisphere.

that's all folks, this observing run is over. i get to sleep for a few hours, then begin the two-day journey back to robin's hood. mahalo.


Julia said...

I so enjoyed your observing tweets. :)

sarafrank said...

that was wonderful! i feel like i just lived through a week in hawaii with you. so lovely.

heroineworshipper said...

Inspiring to see someone happy in their work & solitude. Hard to get back to that point.

Mark Garth said...

Totally enjoyed, many thanks.