Observational Astronomy Class Trip to Kitt Peak –Night 1ssofia | October 20, 2012
Hello from Kitt Peak National Observatory! My name is Sarah Sofia and I am a Junior Physics/Astronomy major at Haverford. I am here observing with Haverford’s Observational Astronomy class. We are currently on our second night of observing on the 0.9 meter telescope at Kitt Peak taking data of Palomar 13 and Ursa Major II, looking for RR lyrae variable stars.
Although we had a few struggles with weather and equipment problems our first night, we had a great night of observing. We had a big set back at the beginning of the night after the CCD camera had warmed up significantly, making our images unusable. However, with a lot of refilling of the dewer by my classmates, the camera was cooled back down and we were back in business for observing. There were a few other setbacks in the night like setting off the dome alarm (DON’T hit the emergency stop!), persistent cloud cover, and Mimi and I even managed to get lost on our way to the dome (it’s VERY dark out here at night). Despite all that, we managed to have a fun, productive time observing. Because of the unfortunate cloud cover, we were unable to take good data of out targets. This, however, allowed us to take some beautiful pictures of the crab nebula and the orion nebula that made the long night completely worth it.
Tonight, the observing has been fantastic with a seeing of about 1.5 arcseconds. The night is absolutely beautiful up here, and we have been periodically standing outside to gaze at the crystal clear night sky, clearly seeing the milky way and stars we can never see at Haverford. We’re getting great data of Palomar 13, and hopefully will continue to throughout the night.