We got to work preparing the telescope at around 5pm on the first night. This included filling the cooling system with liquid nitrogen, uncovering the mirror, and opening up the dome and the shutters.
The first half of the night mostly included me looking over Dr. Terndrup’s shoulder as he handled the telescope. He showed me the basics of focusing and setting up the guiding, then how to take the photometry data we are interested in. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but the process of data collection is rather repetitive, so I got the basics pretty fast. I had a good enough handle on it that by the second half of the night that he could go take naps while I dealt with the telescope.
Unfortunately, some clouds rolled past at the end of the night right before we could get a complete eclipse reading. Fortunately, the star of interest has a very short period, and we’ll have no trouble getting a more complete reading on another night.
We finished with the telescope at around 5am, which was when it finally set in that these would be 12-hour shifts for any clear night this week, so I set off to immediately pass out in bed.
On the second day, there were some storms off to the south. Because there was lightning, we had to go through the process of shutting down both the 1.3 and 2.4 meter telescopes. This was a complicated process that involves reading instructions from a very confusing red binder. Because of the clouds, we had to wait a bit before we could get started observing. In the meantime, I took some photos of the rain from afar. There was even briefly a rainbow!
Once it cleared up, we had to work on getting the telescopes back to normal functioning after the shutdown, which is an equally confusing process. We (well, mostly Dr. Terndrup, but I did point out an icon on the desktop he was missing so… I’d say I did SOMETHING) figured it out eventually, and started back up. I actually did small parts of the setup myself this time, which mostly just filled me with anxiety for half of the night that I might have screwed something up irreparably. Naturally, everything was fine and I was overreacting. As usual.
We took photometry data the same way we did on the first night, and I was left alone for longer stretches of time. I was much more tired than the previous night, and it reminded of me of back when I worked third shift. The second night in a row is always the longest. At one point I took a 30-minute power nap under the stars outside, and I have to say that there’s no better way to wake up than under the Milky Way.
We called it a night at around 6 and, as I did the night before and will for every night this week, I passed out immediately.