Antarctic Astronomy Diaries 2003/04

   

   
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03 February 2004

Friday, December 19, 2003

I slept like a baby. I am relieved that none of the 7 other occupants of my tents snore. The only imperfection is the length of my bed, I barely fit in it. I guess it's not a problem for anyone else since I am the tallest of the station, but I can tell you my feet don't enjoy being exposed like that. I got up at 8:00 which is too late for breakfast. Last year I don't think I made it to more than two breakfasts. I much prefer sleep an extra hour instead.

I went straight to the AASTINO and found everything working as it should. I noticed the large room fan that John had set up to keep me away from the two engines. He judged very well the height of my neck, I have to say. I was mainly surprised by how clean the building was. The last tenants obviously wanted their bond back. The only sign of decay I noticed was the antistatic mattress on top of the desk that was unglued at many spots. I found a brush and the appropriate glue right away and fixed this imperfection. John also left plenty of post-it notes everywhere. They were all very useful to get me up to date with my surrounding, with the exception of the one left in front of the fan that said "don't cross this line if the fan is on" which was reminiscent of the warnings like "do not swallow" that you can find on paint tins.

After a general check of the AASTINO, I went to visit my colleagues from Nice. Beside my work on the AASTINO, I am also at Dome C to help them with their own experiment: the DIMM.

A DIMM (Differential Image Motion Monitor) is a small telescope with two apertures that measures the loss of resolution due to the atmosphere. Eric A. and Eric F. arrived at Dome C at the same time as John. Eric A. will remain here until the end of the summer while Eric F. leaves next Tuesday. By then I should be fully capable to run the DIMM by myself. Their experiment is based 200m from the AASTINO, so it shouldn't be too hard to work on two things at once.

The third job I was meant to do this year was the daily weather balloon launch. This experiment also initiated by the University of Nice, has been joined by the University of Idaho last year. I was given the good news that I won't have to do the launches this year because our American colleagues brought a student to work exclusively on it. My only involvement will be the analysis of the data and a couple of launches during a day when we are planning to launch a balloon every two hours.

The morning was nice and sunny, however after lunch the all sky became covered by a thick layer of Sirius. I am not used to the place under these conditions. Last year we had two days of clouds at the most. The current weather is therefore unacceptable, and I will ask the station manager to organize a sun dance later tomorrow.

The day ended with the celebration of Eric's birthday. Jean-Louis had a massive black forest cake ready to be devastated for the occasion.

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