Saturday, June 28, 2008

Infra-Red Crater Shots

I finally got around to downloading my IR crater shots. Some of them are just ridiculous.... What a weird perspective this wavelength adds to the world.

Friday, June 27, 2008

An Awesome Sunset....

The cirrus kills my observing, but damn they're pretty... I pity all the suckers that drove up from sealevel to a 20mph wind, 40-degree summit to stand outside in board-shorts and a t-shirt for an hour.

Painful Summit Time

I've been working the day and night shifts up on the summit. It's pretty painful. I've got one more night to go. It's been really productive - the Apogee CCD is working fine and I've got the new setup characterized fairly well. The polarimetry is working great. The project on Io is looking like it will work just fine, especially when the replacement guiding hardware comes in. It will probably work fine without it too. Data is flowing! Over at SolarC, Meghan and Nathan are at the point where they can basically open up the scope, calibrate and collect data on their own. Thank god. I'm going to bed at 6am and they'll be starting to open up around 7:30. I don't want to wake up at 9am again and stay up all night. We had some major alignment/focus issues to sort out, but now I think I've got that instrument mostly understood and sorted out. On to paper writing, review responding and presentation preparing.....

New CCD reduction software.
SolarC fiber bundle alignment
SolarC observations of the corona (and sky) in the infra-red.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A pretty sunset... and fibers

The cirrus rolled in for sunset, but the night was basically clear. That's the best way to be - pretty sunsets and unobscured stars...

The key to the SolarC project appears to be learning how to make this fiber bundle align properly. It varies day to day. Not so cool, but that's ok. Each fiber is about 40 microns so you'd expect alignment to be a little bit difficult... We spent the morning learning how to work with this thing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Up Up Up and Away!

And after a relatively short nights sleep, we hiked out early. Another beautiful day. I think I love June up here....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hiking to Holua

The morning was spectacular and we left Paliku just as the fog was rolling in over the mountains. The hike crosses the windswept dry crater floor. You leave the scrub and get in to lava desert. It was a decent day and we had a perfectly clear night. The lava tube is always a good time. Some cirrus rolled in to make the sunset perfect.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Paliku Day

Today was totally excellent. It was the recovery-day from the 10mile hike. We all went day-hiking in small groups, spending a few hours here or there. Lots of people managed to make it up the Paliku cliff, down Kaupo a bit and/or up the unmaintained trail to the windward ridge. Excellent stuff. It was a perfect day too. We killed off my liter of whiskey and some of Nathans too... To top it all off, next to all the native fruit trees (berries etc) was a giant patch of mint. The mint tea was surpurb. We made probably 8 liters of it over the course of the trip. Happy birthday to me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Crater Hike, Day 1

For my birthday, I hiked in to the Haleakala crater with a crew of 10. Jeff, Joe and I originally planned on going. Sonnett and Joanna jumped in. Then the Maui crew - Untenberger, Swiss-Markus, Meghan and Nathan joined. Finally Brad committed. We all got to the airport around 4am to start a 10 mile hike in to Paliku. The day was fabulous. We talked till Kapalaoa, then passed out on the grass for a while. The hike in to the campsite was great....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I went up for my solo flight around 7am Tues morning. I did one landing with Steve and then three alone. It was a little freaky before I got in the air. You know, thought's of how I was going to die painfully when I flip the plane on the runway and stuff like that. But once I got in the air it was fine. Good stuff. My first landing was actually my best. I got distracted talking to other planes in the pattern on the last one and forgot to hit my airbrakes on the downwind. Whoops. Overshot my landing by a bit. Then Steve poured cold water all over me and we went up for another lesson to prepare for my full license. Good stuff. This morning I had the airfield all to myself for an hour and did 8 landings. Tomorrow, I'm off to the ridge.... alone!!

Other than that, I'm just working on a paper and on a review I just got. And making mosaics with the new CCD data. Boring stuff. At least I've got a new aparment to arrange when I get bored thinking about spectropolarimetry. Anyways, off to work some more.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Airfield, Moving Day

Sonnett, Billy + family and I went down to the airfield early this morning. I wanted to make sure I've got the pre-flight procedures down. I think I feel comfortable getting the plane prepared and ready to take off now. After solo tomorrow, I'll be able to come down real early, get the thing ready, go fly, and put it away without any help. Woo Hoo!!

Sonnett and I hiked Kealia while Billy took Dawn, Sonnett and her mom for rides.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Approaching Solo!

I spent Saturday down at the airfield. I had lessons from 7-8:30 and 3:30-4:30. In the middle, Steve gave me the ok to practice on the ground alone. I spent it just learning how to keep the plane going straight or to do circles left/right. The plane acts like a weather-vane and wants to line up with the wind (and the tail want's to come off the ground), so it's not as easy as it sounds... My last major area of crappyness is keeping the plane going straight on the ground with just rudder and brakes. I spent most of my lessons doing these funny take-off's where I'd reach 40 knots then power back to hold that speed. I'd practice going straight and balancing on one wheel (windward wing down) so I can handle gusty cross-wind landings. I'm taking my solo-flight Tues morning!

Friday, June 13, 2008

SolarC, OFIS, and more Apogee

Today we all woke up early and got going on SolarC. The weather cooperated for most of the day so the REU's got to calibrate, test and all that good learning stuff. The OFIS instrument (the spectropolarimeter on SolarC) was working ok and we got to characterize the chip a bit.

OFIS data on the sun... Each row is a spectrum from a fiber at the primary image. Each spectrum would correspond to some point on the solar disk. I think the wavelengths are someting like 1040-1080nm (infrared). The polarimetry happens when two liquid crystals up near the image in the telescope modulate the incoming polarization state of the light. Basically, you take 4 exposures and do some differencing to get the polarized spectra.

A 'dark' frame - an exposure taken with no light so that all you see is the structure and defects on the chip. You use dark frames to remove these ccd properties so you have a properly calibrated image.

I spent the afternoon over at HiVIS making the wavelength calibration mosaic. I took a bunch of exposures with a Thorium-Argon lamp (think neon sign tubes). The spectrum of Th-Ar is well known so I now know what colors fall where on my chip.

There are some funny things that happen as you move the ccd around - ghosts, vignetting and small misalignments. Got to deal with those.... - below is one ThAr minus another. Ideally they'd be blank.
The bad thing about this new CCD is that it's not quite as efficient. The old Pixis had a QE of 85% at H-alpha (650nm). If you throw 100 photons at the pixis, you count 85 (lose 15). The Apogee is more like 50%. Bummer.

This image is for Jesse: QE curves are just funky. My pixis is the red curve - IR optimized. We're going to be buying the UV one for about 30k next week.... For OFIS.