So we had our first night of observing up at Lowell: It was pretty badass. The control system they have is pretty slick: One computer, aptly named “MOVE” controls the direction of the dome/telescope contraption, while the other, named “PEGASUS”, operates a software package called LOIS (Lowell Observatory Instrument System) that takes the pictures and can run some useful mid-observing tests.
We arrived at around 6:30, PM. Ed, the super-nice technician dude helped us get started, showing us how LOIS worked, what to be careful of when moving the dome and telescope, and how to restart the whole shebang when (yes, when, not if) it should crash. Soon, we were off.
Cody and I ended up going first, so we pulled two targets off our giant heap and started going for it. This process ended up entailing an exceedingly simple and repetitive series of actions that Cody and I needed to perform every 15 seconds. An exposure takes 10 seconds, and then about 5 more seconds for the system to reset itself, then we point it to the second target, repeat. Point it back at the first, repeat, and so on. We did this until 11:30. I’m still a little scared to do the math, but we ended up taking something like 300 images on that first go. *cringe*
Then Cody and I had a break while Nick and Kerry did their thing. Eventually though, around 3 AM, myself and Cody were back in the hot seat. We picked two more targets, which thankfully were dimmer, and so needed longer exposure times, but basically entailed the same methodology. Sadly, we both began to fall apart around 6 AM (having been awake then for 16 hours, 8 of which were in what would be considered ‘normal sleeping time’): He’d move the dome while I was taking an image, or I’d take an image while he was moving the dome. We were a mess!
By 6:30, the decision was made to call it quits, and we happily did so. Quickly we returned to the Chalet for some sleep. I awoke at around 1 PM with something like six hours of sleep under my belt… Alarmingly, that’s pretty typical for me.
Only problem now is that we have no water, which is… unfortunate.
I’m dirty, and perhaps a tad over-hydrated.
We’ll see how this goes.
In Other News:
Mom and Dad got a new computer over Thanksgiving, and after much begging, I convinced my mother to not throw the old one away (she HATES having old computer stuff around the house, as much as I love it, it seems). I’ve got big plans for this little machine though! I’m going to wipe the hard drive, and install the Ubuntu distro of Linux on it. Then, I’m going to try and run it as a web server out of my house!
“But Tom, you already have a web server! You pay a hefty chunk of money every year to keep it in operation! Why do you need two?!”
If this one works well enough, I can host Schrodinger’s Blog locally, and NOT have to pay a gazillion dollars a year to keep my crappy, little-used blog in operation. Also it would just be mega-hardcore to do it myself.