Skip to main content

Telescopes Dancing on Mauna Kea

I have a night scheduled on the Keck Telescope starting Monday evening. I try not to sweat the weather before I begin observing because there's the temptation to slack off if the weather looks bad. This can be a very bad thing to do in the event that the weather unexpectedly clears, leaving you unprepared for the night ("It's clear, whoohoo! OMG, what's my first target?!").

I had my target list finished well in advance, so I decided to check in with the Mauna Kea Weather Center. The forecast looks good, which is great. However, I noticed clouds in the webcam views. Booo! I then checked the time-lapse movie from the previous night, which looked pretty cool. I downloaded the mp4 file, uploaded it to Youtube and did an audio-swap using one of Youtube's cool new features to add a little background music.

The resulting vid clip is below (and here). The night starts on Thursday, May 7 just before midnight, and continues until midnight the following night. The video is a time-lapse sequence taken from one of the Canada France Hawaii Telescope's web cameras, aimed South. In the foreground is the 8-meter Gemini Telescope, which looks a bit like R2D2. Just behind and to the right is the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter telescope. And behind and to the right of the UH 2.2m is the 3.8-meter United Kingdom InfraRed Telescope (UKIRT, pronounced YOU-kirt). The bright light in the sky at the beginning of the video is the (nearly) full moon, followed by sun-rise on the left side of the screen, then moon-rise again.


Amy Pousson said…
I liked how down low and off to the sides you could see the lower layer of clouds rolling along, too. 20 nights a year! As Brian would say, damn son.

Popular posts from this blog

An annual note to all the (NSF) haters

It's that time of year again: students have recently been notified about whether they received the prestigious NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship. Known in the STEM community as "The NSF," the fellowship provides a student with three years of graduate school tuition and stipend, with the latter typically 5-10% above the standard institutional support for first- and second-year students. It's a sweet deal, and a real accellerant for young students to get their research career humming along smoothly because they don't need to restrict themselves to only advisors who have funding: the students fund themselves!
This is also the time of year that many a white dude executes what I call the "academic soccer flop." It looks kinda like this:

It typically sounds like this: "Congrats! Of course it's easier for you to win the NSF because you're, you know, the right demographic." Or worse: "She only won because she's Hispanic."…

Culture: Made Fresh Daily

There are two inspirations for this essay worth noting. The first is an impromptu talk I gave to the board of trustees at Thatcher School while I was visiting in October as an Anacapa Fellow. Spending time on this remarkable campus interacting with the students, faculty and staff helped solidify my notions about how culture can be intentionally created. The second source is Beam Times and Lifetimes by Sharon Tarweek, an in-depth exploration of the culture of particle physics told by an anthropologist embedded at SLAC for two decades. It's a fascinating look at the strange practices and norms that scientists take for granted.
One of the stories that scientists tell themselves, whether implicitly or explicitly, is that science exists outside of and independent of society. A corollary of this notion is that if a scientific subfield has a culture, e.g. the culture of astronomy vs. the culture of chemistry, that culture is essential rather than constructed. That is to say, scientific c…

The Long Con

Hiding in Plain Sight

ESPN has a series of sports documentaries called 30 For 30. One of my favorites is called Broke which is about how professional athletes often make tens of millions of dollars in their careers yet retire with nothing. One of the major "leaks" turns out to be con artists, who lure athletes into elaborate real estate schemes or business ventures. This naturally raises the question: In a tightly-knit social structure that is a sports team, how can con artists operate so effectively and extensively? The answer is quite simple: very few people taken in by con artists ever tell anyone what happened. Thus, con artists can operate out in the open with little fear of consequences because they are shielded by the collective silence of their victims.
I can empathize with this. I've lost money in two different con schemes. One was when I was in college, and I received a phone call that I had won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas. All I needed to do was p…