Friday, May 1, 2015

Collaboration of an amateur to the Professional Astronomy

Hello everyone, my name is Consuelo González-Ávila (a.k.a. Pilar Ávila) and, as many amateur astronomers around the world, I work collaborating to professional astronomers...How did I get here?

After finishing my university formation in Music Education (in 2007) I took some courses of Mathematics and Physics. Between 2010 and 2012 I was part of the E-ELT Site Testing team, working at some of the chilean candidate sites for the European Extremely Large Telescope, at ESO's Paranal Observatory. This work consisted in travelling to every mountain to install and operate instrumentation in order to get data related to atmospheric turbulence, especially in the nights around full Moon (I got the nickname "wolf-woman" there).

Cerro Armazones, the site of the European Extremely Large Telescope, June 2011.

Mainly, I worked at Cerro Armazones. This site was chosen for the E-ELT and I still treasure meaningful memories, not only about the job and this mountain, but also as a personal experience.

Working with a Lunar Scintillometer during an experiment at ESO's Paranal Observatory. 
In the background, the Unit Telescope 3 a.k.a. "Melipal" (Southern Cross in Mapudungun). 

Before finishing my work at Paranal, on November 2012, I started to work for the Carnegie Supernova Project and this was my entrance to Las Campanas Observatory. The project, directed by Dr. Mark Phillips, consists in getting optical and near-infrared observations of 100-150 Type Ia supernovae located in the smooth Hubble flow. Today, I am working as an observer at the Henrietta Swope Telescope taking optical imaging, and also I collaborated during a period with the data reduction and the background subtractions on some supernovae.

Henrietta Swope Telescope in foreground and Irénée du Pont Telescope in background 
at Las Campanas Observatory

Nowadays I count 2 years and 5 months working in this project completing more than 260 observing nights (most of them at Swope Telescope and a few at du Pont Telescope). So, I will share here some anecdotes and relevant facts about observing from an historical telescope as Swope.

1-m Swope Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory, during an observing
night for the Carnegie Supernova Project.

I want to thank to the astronomer Johanna Teske for inviting me to contribute to this blog.

Stay tuned, cheers!

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