Sunday, June 13, 2010

Experiments in sleep-deprived post-writing.

As I write this, it is 4 o`clock Saturday morning (Hawaiian Standard Time), and I have been observing for 10 and a half hours, and awake for a little over 19. Unlike Wednesday night (well, Thursday morning), when wind speeds in excess of 50 mph at the summit forced us to close up early, the weather tonight has been more amenable, with moderate seeing (hovering around 1 arcsecond, which is quite good for most observatories on Earth, but poor for Mauna Kea with its often 0.5 arcsecond seeing).

(Seeing is simply a measure of how well you can resolve two objects at the telescope. If you have seeing of one arcsecond, you can resolve two objects one arcsecond apart, assuming an optimally built and focused telescope [an arcsecond is 1/3600 of a degree of arc, a very small angular measurement].)

Observing can be pretty boring work. I expect to be here for nearly two more hours, which makes almost 11 and a half hours of observing in a row. [Edit: it turned out to be a little less than an hour and a half, I forgot twilight came so early in the summer] We're using the SNIFS camera on the UH 2.2-meter telescope, which has a lot of automation built-in that results in large portions of down time for us. The good part of this is that I will soon have more data to work with, because the data I've been analyzing has all come from SNIFS. With the scripts I've written, it is a simple matter to run the data through and catch it up to the rest of the data.

Writing posts while sleep-deprived to this extant is turning out to be harder than I anticipated, so I'm going to stop now and focus on staying awake. We have one more night scheduled for the current run, on Sunday, which I plan to be at. Due to a misunderstanding, the WFGS2 camera that we might have used did not have its dewar of liquid nitrogen refilled, so we'll be using SNIFS again (being a spectrometer, it does not have such a critical need to be kept cold). The upside, once again, is more data for me to work with!


  1. Being a spectrometer does not require cooling? What kind of spectrometer is it?

  2. WFGS2 is a wide-field imager (11x11 arcminutes), SNIFS is a spectrometer (6x6 arcseconds). The kind has something to do with an IFU. Takamiya and the telescope operator concluded that the results we were getting with the biases for WFGS2 were most likely the result of it not be cooled properly.


Think I said something interesting or insightful? Let me know what you thought! Or even just drop in and say "hi" once in a while - I always enjoy reading comments.