Monday, June 30, 2008

Hat Creek Week

I'll come right out with it- I liked my week at Hat Creek Radio Observatory (HCRO). This might have had something to do with the miniature fleet of observatory bicycles, the awesome milkshakes at the local place down the road... Or we could all just admit it was because of the pretty radio telescopes and wonderful company and get on with the pictures already.
This is the sunset from the first night at HCRO. All the sunsets were absolutely stunning while we were there but the reason wasn't so pretty- California is currently battling a bout of wildfires, and while there's nothing unusual in that what is unusual is the fact that the fires started so early in the summer. We spent most of the week following updates on the local fires, some of which were 10 miles away and would shut down the local roads, but luckily we lost nothing short of a few views.

So what you see in the above picture, by the way, is part of the 42 telescope array, which will be phased up to 360 telescopes once the kinks are worked out and the money flows in. It's pretty impressive stuff, but what's also impressive is what it takes to run this stuff in the control room to process the signals-
I offered various telescope operators five bucks to pull out random wires and replug them in the wrong places, but for some reason none of them would go for it.
A bunch of us students and Garrett, the telescope operator. Perhaps it's an indication of just how much there is to do in the area, but at night we'd have 'observing parties' in the control room and play with the Allen Telescope Array (you might have not been able to see stars some nights due to smoke, but for radio waves this luckily isn't a problem). Definitely cool stuff, though we could have done without the blizzard of various bugs that would inevitably find their way into the control room.

Anyway, I should move on from this because a lot happened this past week that I need to get to and I am spending the rest of my summer working on the Array. Continuing on...


Lauren said...

I miss sitting up late at night in the dark. Or in an appropriately named warm room cuz it's FREEZING in june (at the mountains.) *sigh* when we grow up you should take me on an observing run you have somewhere fun :) for old time's sake!