MDM Observatory: Day 2

Today….today was interesting!

 

This afternoon I found out that I would be doing these observations on my own.  Originally, I was to be joined on the mountain by another collaborator of ours, who had used this telescope a number of times.  Given that I have VERY little experience working with large telescopes (just with the York 60cm really), this was going to be an opportunity for me to learn from an experienced observer.  Due to some unavoidable events, I am now to be on my own for the week (EEP!).  Needless to say, I was slightly apprehensive.  Could I really do these observations by myself?

Well, I dove in, and came out on top!  Lucky for me, my support network was strong.  My supervisor Pat Hall skyped with me as we both trouble shooted using the observatory.  Also, Rob Faison (using the 1.3 m) was open for questions when I had them.  Thanks to both of them, data was taken!

The MDM observatory has two telescopes: the 2.4m and the 1.3m.  I am using the 2.4 m telescope AKA the ‘Hiltner’ Telescope.  Here’s an image from outside:

The control room houses multiple computers, manuals, etc.  In my prep and data acquisition this was my desk:

6 computer screens.  All in full use, from left to right:

laptop: skype, star fields, notes, music (when taking data)

small black screen: CCD readout

twin screens: driving the telescope, controlling instrument, star fields, manuals, data crunching

raised black screen: displays the telescope telemetry (RA/DEC/HA, etc)

furthest right (facing away): guiding camera

 

all to point and use THIS:

The 2.4 meter Hiltner with OSMOS attached to the bottom (Black box) and the MDM4K CCD sensor (purple cylinder).  For scale, OSMOS and MDM4k measure roughly my height.  yowza, this things big.

Up all night working:

Got to see the sunrise in the east, silhouetting the observatories further up the mountain.

MDM Observatory: Day 1

This week I’m fortunate enough to be in Arizona just outside Tucson.  I’m here to do some observations of blackholes billions of lightyears away, using the MDM Observatory which is part of the Kitt Peak National Observatory.

While I’ve used telescopes before, the MDM is much different.  The aperture is 2.4 metres wide (HUGE), and the light pollution/seeing is much better.  Arriving at the mountain, which is on a Native American Reserve.

 

Below MDM is the foreground observatory, with many of the other scopes on the mountain.

 

The Sun sets over the mountains in the west, thus beginning the night of observing!  Tomorrow, pics from WITHN the dome….