Tales from Waimea Part 2

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Greetings from Hawaii. I’m here for observing on the Keck telescopes. It’s 5:45am in Hawaii, and the Sun has just risen. I’m sitting here in my Keck Visiting Scientist Quarters (VSQ) dorm eating a microwaved breakfast burrito and just about to head to bed. My observing night is today or rather tonight  on June 28th local time in Hawaii, but I’ve been up all night to try and adjust to being on a night schedule so I’ll feel better tomorrow when I actually need to working . I  also go to spend the later part of the night sitting in while last night’s observers were taking data. I’ll get to that in a bit, but I want to talk about earlier in the day first.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, I tasked myself with reading over the instrument manuals and webpages again, taking notes, and typing up a cheat sheet of useful commands, instrument parameters, and things to remember. This included a walk from Keck to a taco joint a short distance down the road where fish tacos  were hand and instrument manuals were read.

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I took some pictures on the walk over on my quest for tacos to show you the main Keck HQ building from the  street side. You can see in the image, the glass window has hexagonal panes. That’s a nod to the Keck mirror design which is an assemblage of 36 hexagonal mirrors combined to make the full 10-m collecting area.

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The early evening, I slept so I could be up and awake much later in the evening to sit in and eavesdrop on the current night’s observers who had the second half the night. I arrived around 2am, and  they graciously let me hang out in the remote room typing up my notes, and asking questions here and there about using NIRC2 and the natural guide star adaptive optics system. I got a chance to quietly watch over their shoulders to get a sense of what the general procedure was for executing an observation from start to finish. I’m now feeling more comfortable with the NIRC2 guis and command interface for tonight’s observing.

This morning, the skies around Mauna Kea are clear, and you can actually see there’s a mountain in the distance. With my back to the dorms facing the main Keck HQ building, here’s the view of Mauna Kea at early sunrise. If you squint (or zoom in with your camera), you might just make out that there are telescopes on top.

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And so with that, I have a starlist to make tomorrow afternoon, and I meet with the support astronomer in the mid afternoon to go over setup and get me situated with the calibration images. I’ll take lots of pictures of the remote room tomorrow, but for now it’s time to sleep.

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4 responses to “Tales from Waimea Part 2”

  1. Brian Warren says :

    Brilliant pics, Meg. You’re giving us a real feel for the place. It’s good to hear you’re settling in with both the scope & the staff. Good confirming.
    Hiwayman.

  2. George Kountouris says :

    Amazing – Impressive. Congratulations Meg.

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