Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Telescopes of the Southwest United States

Things I did for the first time on my tour of the telescopes of the southwest US:

been above 9500 feet
experienced altitude sickness (just a bit)
saw at least 10 deer at once
went sledding on something that wasn't snow (in this case, white sand)
climbed a sand dune (that was freakin hard!)
gone through border patrol
peed in the woods
run an optical telescope
Judged a telescope operation based on its weird slewing noise
seen the sun set from 9500 feet
seen the milky way AT FIRST GLANCE (even before my eyes adjusted--my GOD it was gorgeous)

Things I wish I could say I did for the first but I've actually done before:
Swung from part of a telescope
Climbed around on a mesh catwalk while it swung around, so I could look down through the mesh at the earth spinning away below my feet (eek! at least this time it wasn't 500 ft up, just a few dozen)
thrown pine cones at someone
lived without the internet (well... sort of)
cursed unknown weather gods.
lived in a cabin on site of an observatory
fallen in love with New Mexico *sigh*
crunched through deep carpets of pine needles

The trip has gone well. We spent a crazy couple of days running between Kitt Peak National Observatory, the giant Mirror Lab, and the location of the Large Binocular Telescope. We finally ended up here at Apache Point Observatory, where we settled down for a luxurious 4 days of frantic observing. We had three gorgeous days with photometric seeing, and tonight, when we need the most data, the weather is crappy and our seeing is 2 arcsec (here's a hint: that's TERRIBLE).

Friday we go to the VLA. I can't wait, radio being my specialty and the VLA being one of the epitomes of powerful radio science these days. Then I can add something else to the second list: cooked without microwave! since they're not allowed at the VLA.

Missing home. Lots of work to do--Li's homework and WSTAR data (hey, I actually worked on that!) and emailing Arecibo about the proposal and more. Oh, and did I mention studying? so I can actually understand what's going on? that would be useful!

No comments:

Post a Comment