Thursday, August 6, 2015

First Observations

Visiting Las Campanas in winter means that weather somewhat occasionally does not cooperate with observational astronomy.  This storm that we're experiencing the last few days has been particularly harsh and unusual.
The clouds are low, the wind is strong, and we keep getting suckered by seeing clear skies at the edge of the cloud deck.
I planned for 8 nights at LCO expecting that at the worst about half would be a loss due to weather.  We saw some stars for an hour or two on my first night, and not a thing since.  Unlike the rays of sunshine in the photo above there's no good weather news on the horizon.  Despite this, we've been keeping busy with regular work and taking advantage of other things LCO has to offer.

Instead of stars, galaxies and planets, I have other observations for you:

Observation #1:  Astronomers are weather bugs.

The last four nights have been spent in part staring at our weather monitors, and trying to guess if there will be a break in the clouds between the multicolored bands coming in off the coast.

Observation #2: The viscachas know what's up.

Warm furry coat, hiding from the wind, protected under the eaves, and facing the sunset. 

Observation #3: Clouds are bad for observational astronomy, but utterly stunning for sunsets in the Atacama.

When I saw this sight out the window of my room, I dropped my toothbrush, grabbed my camera and ran to capture the sight.

Observation #4:  There is still plenty to do to keep ourselves busy productive members of the Observatory.

Views: Magellan Clay Telescope by Cynthia Hunt
Click and drag the photosphere above to explore inside the Magellan Clay Telescope!

The most important observation of the last four nights is that the LCO Telescope Operators are golden. They are incredibly knowledgable, there to help you get your work done, not to mention warm and friendly.  They indulged my questions, and even moved the telescopes around so I could take the best photospheres and movies.

Many people here have told me that working at LCO is like being part of a family, and it's absolutely true.  What a place to do science!

No comments:

Post a Comment