Sunday, February 6, 2011

intense observing

as you can see, i havent been able to post nearly as much as i was hoping during this observing run at the AAO. it turns out this telescope and observing project require a lot more attention than i had predicted. it takes three people to keep operations going: a "night assistant" to control the telescope (make sure it continues pointing in the right direction, monitor the weather), a "support astronomer" to operate the instrument (keep everything in focus, configure the 400 optical fiber positions before each observation, actually open the camera's shutter), and the "observer" to decide what targets to look at and make sure the data is top quality throughout the night.

i'm feeling fairly exhausted from the whole ordeal even though these are short summer nights! during this run i'm training to do both the support tasks and those of the observer and at the end of this month i will spend a few nights as the head support astronomer!

for now, here are some photos.

these mountains are littered with telescopes and i just found out there are plans to build about 14 more small-ish ones over the next several years!

butterflies love bottle brush.

the view from the catwalk of the AAT.

the AAT.

the control room setup is not quite as impressive as at UKIRT on mauna kea, but it certainly accomplishes the goals.

the night assistant in his rest state.

no matter how much i want to complain about brutal observing and not having as much time as i was hoping to work on science during the nights, i cannot complain at all about having time after i eat dinner to go out and watch kangaroos eat grass and bounce around. they are so freaking adorable... and when they hop away, i cant help but smile.


Big Mark 243 said...

I bet you get the same sensation as folks get when they spy a family of deer on their property!

Question... funding for the telescope construction... where does that come from? And what makes Australia (remember, I am naive and these are the typical questions from the great unwashed) such a prime place for observation?

TaviGreiner said...

Which targets did you select, as the "observer"?