Sunset & twilight 2018
Southern Cross is out, Mars and Saturn joined Jupiter and are visible now as well. We had some nice days lately and are now in nautical twilight. Here are some pictures from sunset & twilight
SPT got there focal plane safely back in the lab and can start repairs, anything like that is a major undertaking in winter with only few people on site who can do the work.
By now I spent a 1/4 of my life in Antarctica, more than 95% of that time at the geographic South Pole... I will add a few more months, but I'm also looking forward to some summers back home again as well.
Already April, equinox was 2 weeks ago and we are just about to enter nautical twilight (the sun is between 6%deg and 12° below the horizon). the brightest stars are visible and Jupiter is out for nearly a week. Also the full moon came up last Sunday. Conditions were perfect, not much wind and clear skies. On Sunday April 1st we also had an open house in the dark sector to show the rest of the crew, why we are here and what we are doing. It was the perfect day to be outside :)
SPT the South Pole Telescope has some major problems, and lot of effort goes into trying to fix it. At least Bicep3 and SPUD/Keck-array are behaving well lately.
On Saturday March 24 we had our sunset dinner. Again an awesome meal, the cooks really outdid themselves. Otherwise we are getting into the winter groove. We have a quite busy rec schedule again. Yesterday was already the 6th astronomy class, then we started a Spanish group/class, there is a team sport in the gym every weekday. For the next 19 Sundays we will show a Bond movie - already did the last 5. Several nights are game nights as well and a cribbage tournament is running right now as well. So it doesn't get boring at all :).
The equinox is only a few hours away, that means the sun will disappear below the horizon in the next few days, because of refraction on the light entering the atmosphere we sill have direct sunlight for maybe 4 days, depends on the density of the air and how clear the horizon is. The only sunset in 2018 for South Pole, it also means during equinox the sun is right over the equator and tomorrow it will be well into the Northern Hemisphere, so hang in there, spring is coming ;)
We are already in full winter mode. Most of the station closing tasks are completed. Yesterday we spent most of the day outside to get the telescope ready for CMB observations. Of course now that weather
matters again it turned bad with overcast skies and blowing snow, the first drifts are already developing.
Everybody is eager now for the sunset, looking forward to see some stars and auroras again. But now the light is getting already nice, the time of the long shadows has begun.
Back at the Pole for 10 days now, coming down worked flawless, no delays, although a few extra days in Christchurch as payback for the missed summer leaving wouldn't have been bad. But it's great to be back.
Telescope and lab are in great shape, now it's a bit of chaos again, since I'm unpacking all my boxes. But I moved into my 2 rooms. The last 11 summer people left on Friday, a day after the last scheduled flight due to weather on the second to last plane. Then the second lamest flyby ever - they didn't do one, but at least they announced it, not like a few years ago, where everybody was waiting but the plane never came back. At least the hazy skies gave a nice Halos AND we had a partial solar eclipse in the morning of the closing day - kind of a sign "winter is coming" ;)