Heading South and last days of Summer
Today we went outside as part of the astronomy class and we pointed out the constellations, brighter stars etc with a green laser pointer. Last night temperatures fell below -70°C fro the first time
this year, but we haven't reached the magical -73.4°C (-100F) yet. But this means nice clear skies, so great for some stargazing ;)
Also Bill Spinder's updated winter-over statistic is out again. On his page you will find also a LOT of information about the South Pole Station.
Finally a stretch of cold temperatures and clear skies, the moon set as well and we are enjoying the first dark skies, the sun is now in astronomical twilight, the glow is still visible weak on the horizon.
Here are some of the first aurora pictures for this season
Our kitchen is closed at the moment for some work to the air handlers, so for 3 weeks we are having an improvised kitchen and serving line. Also the food is based on premade microwave food, but our cooks still try to make the best out of it.
Yuri's night tonight, we will have our celebration on Saturday. More and more stars are visible, the sun is nearly 9° below the horizon. This morning clouds moved in, only leaving a very small red stripe on the horizon. The moon is up as well again for 2 weeks.
Every Sunday afternoon we are playing "Carcassonne" and later that day a "Settler's of Catan" or two, last Sunday we actually played seven in a row, so with Carcassonne that were 9 hours of board games :)
We are in nautical twilight, the sun is 7° below the horizon. Yesterday I could see the Southern Cross for the first time this year from down here. Unfortunately the weather is not very cooperating over the last weeks and we have a lot of clouds.
Next week our kitchen will be out of commission for several weeks due to some construction work that needs to be done. So we will live off microwave meals for the time...
NOAA switched to the plastic balloons, since it is getting too cold for the rubber ones. The first was launched today. Here is multiple exposure.
On Sunday we had our sunset dinner, one of the big celebrations during the winter. The cooks did an awesome job again. Weather could have been better around sunset, but there were a few hours we could
actually see the refraction of the sun and even a green "flash"
A week ago we removed the giant calibration mirror and modified the telescope for CMB observations. We got one new detector out of the five and Keck/SPUD is now mainly observing the dust in our own
galaxy and we are trying to figure out how much it affects our real signal. To find out more about check out this great BBC documentary.
The moon came up 6 days ago, and I tried to improve the "changing phase" time lapse from last year, but the weather is not cooperating and the last few days it's
mostly quite windy, overcast and now visibility of the moon. Unfortunate since that is really the only time of the year, this particular time lapse will work out.
But I just before the moon rose, I got a nearly 5 day time lapse of the the sun.
The sun is less than 1° above the horizon. Tomorrow night is the official equinox. We will see the sun (if it clears up) for a few more days, before it's gone for 6 months.
The sun is only 5.5° above the horizon, but it is the warmest winter beginning I have ever seen down here. Normally around mid February the temperatures go below -50°C, of course there are warmer days, but this year we haven't even reached -50°C yet, and we had quite a few days with temperatures just below -30°C. Of course it makes all the outside work that has to be done now a bit easier.
We also had the last Kenn Borek plane coming through for refueling on March 1st. They only stayed for less than an hour and were glad to get on their way to Rothera.
The telescope is still in calibration mode, but we should be done this week, that would be earlier than the past years, but that would be great, especially with the warmer temperatures, since it is a few days of outside work, to get the calibration mirror down and set up the telescope for CMB observations. So far we only had some minor technical problems and the telescope runs great after all the upgrades from the past summer - knock on wood ;)
Made it back to Pole on Friday night Feb 10 at 2300, a bit more than 24h in McMurdo, and 3 days delay in Christchurch, so I had 6 days of summer there :)
This year the telescope and lab were in a great state, thanks to all the summer people for their hard work. Last summer folks left on Wednesday and left 46 winter-overs for winter 2017 back at the
Just getting started to set up all my computer stuff etc. so soon more :)