While I was in Hawaii I completed the first installment of my observing runs this semester. The observations were timed so that I could take data at the same time as Juno… but unfortunately there was a change of plan with Juno’s orbit and so my timely observations (once every 2 weeks) are still going ahead but without Juno observing at the same time.
This time I was observing from my office in Leicester with Henrik and my supervisor, Tom. The forecast hadn’t been looking good all week and there were thick, high clouds above Mauna Kea. These clouds appeared to be clearing although it was apparently still very windy up there.
We started off with calibrations and taking star spectra as Jupiter was still quite low down towards the horizon. But then the fog drew in…
— Henrik Melin (@hmelin_) November 30, 2016
After a rude interuption from the fog, it seemed that the high clouds had disappeared and so we quickly moved onto observing Jupiter feeling pretty positive about the weather. Unfortunately the positivity was short lived and after taking one image of Jupiter the Telescope Operator told us to say bye to Jupiter as the fog rolled in again.
We had to wait it out until the humidity has dropped low enough to allow the telescope dome to be opened up again. The prevailing wind direction that night was from the East, which is where the telescope was pointed to look at Jupiter. This meant that the feezing fog was being blown directly into the dome, which is bad news for observing. The dome has to be shut in these conditions to stop the telescope getting all iced up.
Eventually the fog went on its way and we could take some spectra of Jupiter. We got to try out some slightly different wavelengths settings and different slit widths too. There were a few more interruptions from the fog. About 45 minutes before we were due to finish the fog rolled in and didn’t show any sign of leaving and so we had to call it a day to allow the telescope operators to get back down the mountain before it got any worse.
So although the weather was less than ideal we still got some data and got to play with the settings on the iSHELL which was fun and interesting. I still have two more observing runs to go this semester but the weather is not looking good for the next run… We’ll be finding out soon if there’s too much snow to observe…