I’m back on Kitt Peak! Here is my observing diary for last night (complete with pictures!)
Observing Day 4 (28 July 2011):
4:44 am: A semi-successful night! I got up to Kitt Peak around 4 pm, and we walked around for about an hour before getting some dinner. There are some amazing views around here, and I was happy to get to take some pictures (since I remembered my camera this time!). After dinner the other students and I played pool in the rec room, which was fun. We then went up to the telescope for the night. The first thing we did when we got there was fill the liquid nitrogen dewar. We are no longer using FLAMINGOS, which is the infrared imager we were using last week. Now we’re using GoldCam, which is an optical spectrograph. The liquid nitrogen dewar on GoldCam needs to be filled about every 8 hours. After that, we went to watch the sunset. The sunsets up here have to be some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!
After that, we hung around until 3 am because it was really cloudy, and even rainy at some points. During that time, I did some work, then we played a computer game called Pocket Tanks, celebrated a birthday, and watched Galaxy Quest (although I slept through most of it because I was tired). Around 3 it really cleared up, so we decided to open the dome (even though it begins to get light a little after 4). We were so pressed for time that we didn’t really point or focus the telescope. We got to observe M32, which is a dwarf elliptical galaxy that is a companion to Andromeda.
We took three spectra of M32 (300 s exposures). After that we took a calibration spectra of the HeNeAr lamp (this is used to find out how much wavelength is covered in each pixel), and then started to close up. It took us about 30 minutes to complete the closing procedure. We have to stow the telescope, close the dome, put an awning over the telescope, refill the dewar, and shut off fans and things like that. Now I am back in my dorm room. I’m really glad that we got to observe SOMETHING at some point in my 5 nights at Kitt Peak. I also still have tomorrow night, so maybe we’ll get some more observing done then!