Using FIES at the NOT

NOT 09

So I am in La Palma doing my astronomy thing. Or rather not doing my astronomy thing because of the weather 🙁 I am supposed to be using an instrument called FIES on the NOT to do radial velocity measurements with some of the folk from Queens to look for exoplanets, but alas it is too cold.

Sun set from an icy Nordic Optical Telescope

(The rest of my photos are on the photos page.)

Last night we observed until about 1:30 when it got cloudy, and when I say cloudy what I mean is the clouds descended and we were in them. Then tonight we got as far as opening the dome when it got too humid again, so we had to stop. Ordinarily when the humidity drops you can start observing again, but the temperature here is cold, very cold, so everything is freezing. We had to drive down from the telescope to the residence, and we had the support astronomer drive with us – as the roads were frozen. His advice to us when driving down was not to wear our seatbelts so we could jump out of the car if we start sliding towards the cliff edge. Hmmm. Oh well we made it down anyway and am now sitting in the residence. The temperature is rising now though, so we may end up going back to the telescope tonight….

My journey here was fairly uneventful, I came via Madrid (and didn’t lose my luggage), then Tenerife. The only thing that did phase me somewhat was when I saw the tiny little plane that goes from Tenerife to La Palma, it was a tiny little two propellar engine jobbie. Ho hum, it got me here I suppose.

Tomorrow I go back down the mountain in the afternoon, but my flight back doesn’t leave until Sunday, so I have to spend a night in that four star hotel with the indoor waterfall and heated swimming pool.

It’s a tough life this astronomy malarkey.