today's phd comic:
good summary of observing: "you spend night after night in isolation, not wasting one minute, checking on the equipment as photons from stars billions of miles away and millions of years old impinge upon your calibrated CCD sensors, hoping they carry data good enough for a thesis."
as it turns out, i've spent over 4 months worth of nights at telescopes during my grad school tenure and very few of the photons i collected will appear in my final dissertation! haha (more of an sad/evil laugh, really)! thats ok though, i loved nearly every minute and gained a lot of knowledge during those long, cold nights on mountain tops.