Thursday, July 31, 2008

And the Stars Above

Back up at Mt. Graham and the VATT. Between stints of yanking old wire and rearranging AC power distribution cable from the pier of the telescope with the "Nedinator" and "CJ", I managed to get in some "quality time" photographing the night sky. During the summer months here in southern Arizona, it is rare to have clear skies for any length of time. This week - two nights of moonless magnificence.

The Milky Way as seen from the center of the MGIO compound looking south.

A five hour and 50 minute exposure of stars rising behind the LBT taken from the top of the VATT building.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Workin' it here boss!

A view of Mt. Graham from the MGIO base camp yesterday morning. Big Cumulonimbus over the site that pelted us with pea-sized hail and washed out a number of places in the dirt road access to the site. The gods are angry we are here.

The "A-team" hard at work in the VATT control room. They managed to remove a bunch of ceiling tiles, drink three cups of coffee and take a nap. Life is hell.

Where's the maid today?

Gary threatens to jump and end the misery.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Vatican & the Kitchen Sink

Again - what a week. Spent the work week up at the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope on Mt. Graham with "the A-Team" upgrading the telescope's computer and mechanical systems for the coming fall observing season. Together we must have pulled over 3000 feet of unused cables from the cable runs and ceiling of the control room - left there by the last set of overworked retarded engineers previously charged with caring for this complicated monster of a telescope. I must have swallowed more dead moths this week then I've done in my whole lifetime. What a mess.

During the stay I spent a number of hours trying to recover from a crash of the developement SUN computer we used to compile the control system software for the scope. Nothing was lost in total but recovering the ability to recompile the code was tricky. In all - a limited success in as much as during an addition of an NTP client for the control system I managed to insert a nasty bug that crashes the control system after about nine hours of continuous operation - handy "feature" but sure to be unappreciated by future users. So - back up to the scope next week to see if I can ferret out this last little code-block before my boss starts getting snarky.

Couple of pics from the roof of the VATT telescope of the LBT - again!

Meanwhile - back at the "Harvey compound" my wife is left to wrestle with an interminable kitchen remodeling project being executed by a local contractor and friend. Its been three weeks now - and looks like it will be at least another three weeks before its done. I think the most stressful and annoying project that can voluntarily be undertaken by a homeowner besides a move from one house to another is the remodelling of a kitchen. Nothing is more distruptive to the flow of family life than the destruction of family feeding hole. Here are a few pics of the progress so far . . .

BEFORE . . .

DURING . . .

NOW . . .