JCMT Liveblog

Tonight I am at the JCMT on Mauna Kea in Hawaii and wil be trying to liveblog the night as we go. This may prove utterly boring, but may be useful. Only time will tell:

1820: Just got back from a tour of the W.M. Keck Telescopes, which one of the operators was kind enough to give us – that is one big scope!

Every five minutes our webcam updates. I’m the one in the black hat!

CSO Tau Chart

1830: Just arrived, dewars refilled and thankfully last night’s ice and snow has melted. We have pretty good grade 2 weather and may even be able to do some Gould Belt observing (which is why we came). To start though it looks like we’ll be looking for some observations in the nearby galaxies survey. Dave Clements is here to oversee that project.

1842: Having some mechanical problems with the telescope’s braking at the moment. I am familiarising myself with some of the data reduction techniques and the JAC’s weather pages. Below you’ll see the CSO’s Tau graph. This is an indication of the weather conditions, in a sense. What it actually measures is the opacity of the sky. The lower the bars, the better the weather.

JCMT Webcam

1903: Hubble is about to pass overhead so I may and have a look. Its only magnitude 2.8 but up here that ought to look quite nice.

1920: Hubble was a let down. The lack of oxygen preventing us from seeing much dimmer than mag 2. That and the Moon, which is almost full tonight. Just getting the first data in from HARP. Our calibration source has a lovely C0 spike, but it’s the wrong kind, C180 instead of 12CO.

1945: Calibrating using Uranus at the moment then onto the real science. we may even be in Grade 1 weather soon (That’s good).

2000: Have just starting taking our first science data of the evening. It’s an MSB than will take an hour to run. Since I think I’ve exhausted looking at ‘pictures’ of Uranus, I think thumb-twiddling has begun.

2018: We are currently using HARP to image M74 in CO. Here’s an APOD picture of the same object in optical wavelengths takne by Gemini North over the road.


2148: We waved at my parents…


… and sent secret messages…


2228: Our galaxy is giving me plenty to do with data reduction while James and Sarah are trying to find an off position for the first Taurus measurements for the Gould Belt Survey. I may have drunk too much Gatoraid by now.

0014: Yay! Have actually found something of interest: a structure in 13CO in Taurus. Brilliant.

0133: Okay so now I’m just bored. Turns out cutting edge science can be cutting edge boring too. Waiting for some more data to come in. La la la la.

0308: The datasets from Taurus are so large that I can leave the room for ages and come back to find them still incomplete. They are good though; even in these rough reductions the data is showing structure and velocity spread.

0347: Just reduced the most incredible map of Orion!

0447: Yeah those Orion maps are really amazing. We’ve got spectral lines galore!

0454: Going to wrap this entry up now. We’re going to pop outside the dome shortly to try and snap some sunrise shots of the summit. I also want to make a nice cup of tea before then!


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