In the Swing of Things

I’m starting to realize that I’m better prepared for this lifestyle than I initially believed. All of the garbage jobs I worked on the way up have ended up helping me in ways I didn’t expect. It hasn’t been difficult for me at all the switch up my sleep schedule because I used to work 3rd shift at a grocery store. The telescope controls have been practically easy to me because they’re so much more intuitive and user-friendly than any cash register I ever used in food service or retail. No matter how much I hated those jobs at the time, I think they helped. Of course, that doesn’t mean I ever wish to return to them. I much prefer this. It’s a bit more intellectually stimulating and nobody ever yells at me!

On Monday, we had control over both the 2.4 and 1.3 meter telescopes. Instead of working separately at the two domes, though, we stayed in the 2.4 meter control room and operated the 1.3 remotely by pulling up the desktop display of the 1.3 control room on two unused monitors in the 2.4. The interface for the 1.3 was similar to the 2.4, but not exactly identical, so I had to learn how to use it properly.  Before long, I was collecting photometry data on the 1.3.

While I was running the smaller telescope, my adviser also showed me how to take spectroscopy data on the 2.4. We were watching the emission lines of a pair of eclipsing binary stars. As an object is moving toward us, it becomes blue-shifted, and as it moves away, it becomes red-shifted. Because the orbital plane of the stars is parallel to our perspective, the stars seem to be alternating movement toward and away from us, and we can watch this happen in their spectra.

It was clear for most of the night, though there were occasional rogue clouds. I took the opportunity to go out and practice my astrophotography. I have to say, I’d forgotten how much I love it! I hope I have time to do more before the observing run is over.

Today, conditions were less favorable. We were confident pretty early on that we wouldn’t have an opportunity to observe. Instead, I spent most of my time catching up on class work – it’s certainly piling up. I took a break to go on a walk and explore the mountain around sunset. The view is absolutely breathtaking. I’m not sure how I’ll go back to Ohio after this.


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