18 June 2007

Experiencing Tucson!

Hi, all! My adventures today were nothing short of amazing. We went down off the mountain today, and Dr. Perlman had "tea" with his parents while Laura and Ryan and I went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which was really amazing!! If you're ever in Tucson, be sure to go there. We saw all sorts of animals and plants, including bobcats and otters, and little lizards all over the place! They also have a really nice cactus garden, and we bought a little jar of prickly pear jelly at the gift shop, which we're going to have with our night lunches tonight. We went through a McDonald's drive-thru for dinner since we were getting on towards sunset (which is unfailingly spectacular), and I got a happy meal -- the toys right now are penguins from Surf's Up, and the one I got is pudgy and nerdy and really cute, and he rolls around the floor on his wind-up surfboard :) We've added him to the collection of fast-food toys in the control room here.

As far as observing goes, we're having a much better run of it tonight than the previouis two nights. We started right away during twilight with a gamma ray burst field and a standard star field, and we haven't had any technical problems today (computers decided to fall apart while the last group was here, but we got them into a temporary fix). Unfortunately, it's also much windier tonight, which affects the clarity of our pictures and we may have to close the dome if it gets too bad. It's also colder, which is fine for the 'scope, but means it'll be a long, cold, dark walk to the cafeteria for night lunch and caffeine. But now that we're on the schedule, it's getting easier to stay up until 4:30 am. The first night, I was awake for something like 27 hours with only a few minutes of dozing here and there, and the others weren't much better. Going back on Wednesday will really be miserable, since we'll have been up since about noon on Tuesday and then observed all night -- we're leaving the mountain for the airport as close to 4:30 as we can, since the FIT people have a 6:30 flight ... mine's not until 9:30, so maybe I'll try to nap a little. At least I'll have all Thursday to recover :)

That's about it for now.. my next update will probably be late Thursday, or possibly Friday (depending on how much I sleep!)

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