May 2009

This is my third night of observations at UKIRT and so far it has been hopeless: humidity 100% and wind speed almost constantly above 35 mph (the limit for keeping the dome open). Here’s a screenshot of the UKIRT and JCMT web cams when we arrived at the summit around 18:10.

UKIRT webcam and weather info on 20090517 18:55

UKIRT webcam and weather info on 20090517 18:55

Right now I am trying to do some beta-testing of the VISTA quality control database ingestion modules but I am being held back by an outage of the beanstalk subversion service I am using. I am on the free plan so I can’t really complain, also because they seem to be doing some kind of system upgrade, but tonight seems to be a bit of a bugger ! I’ll try to post another update later on if the weather improves and we start observing.


Hi there,
it’s 20:21 here in Hawaii. I am currently in the control room of UKIRT on Mauna Kea at 4200m above sea level waiting for the humidity to drop. This is actually my second night here and so far it has not been great ! The weather is actually not that bad but there are some low clouds occasionally coming up and causing the humidity to spike.

I was quite worried about this observing run because I’ve never been working at such a high altitude. I am quite pleased that so far it has been going pretty well: no headaches nor any sickness. I’ve even been doing quite a bit of coding for the VISTA quality-control database which is not really bad considering that some people have rushed down the mountain because they show either minor or major symptoms of AMS.

Tonight we had a great sunset. I managed to take a few pictures as well but I forgot the USB cable down at the hotel so I will not be able to add the pictures to this post. In the meanwhile, if you want to get a feeling of how’s life up here, with a funny twist, have a look at the Hotel Mauna Kea video produced by a visiting astronomer: