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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.

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